La Mesa

Consulting Firm's Report on La Mesa Riot Concludes Police Was Unprepared

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The La Mesa Police Department lacked leadership, communication skills and training when it handled the civil unrest and looting during the summer of 2020, a report from a Chicago consulting firm concluded.

Hillard Heintze, LLC submitted its After-Action Report after reviewing the procedures, policies and practices from La Mesa police for five months in wake of last May’s riot. In the 81-page report submitted to the mayor and city council, the consulting firm found that police were grossly unprepared for the events that unfolded on May 30, 2020.

On that weekend, a racial injustice protest was held in wake of the killing of George Floyd and in response to the on-camera arrest of Amaurie Johnson, who was detained by La Mesa police as he waited for a friend to return from the grocery store.

As the day progressed on May 30, 2020, violence ensued as rioters began to vandalize and loot from commercial buildings and private property. The unrest led to injuries to police officers and protesters, including 59-year-old Leslie Furcron, who was shot in the face with a beanbag round by a police officer.

The La Mesa City Council reacted to a consulting firm’s report on the police department’s handling of summer 2020’s riot.

The After-Action Report said La Mesa police’s handling of the unrest was “unprepared.” Among some of the report’s key findings, police:

  • Lacked formalized intelligence gathering and reporting process
  • Did not have communication with the city and community on a plan
  • Had minimal crowd control training
  • Had several outdated policies and procedures
  • Did not have robust written policies and strategies for community policing, community engagement and biased policing.
NBC 7 Investigates' Alexis Rivas follows up on a controversial arrest and the bean-bag shooting of a protester, as well as the department's history with the use of force

As a result, the report recommended the La Mesa Police Department revise its policies on crowds and protests, training and communication, and employee wellness.

Police officers, community members, firefighters, government officials, business owners and the city’s Citizen Public Safety Oversight Task Force members were interviewed to gather information for the report, according to Hillard Heintze, LLC.

NBC 7 has reached out to the La Mesa Police Department for comment.

Read the report in its entirety below:

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