The official reason for Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent’s resignation was “personal reasons.” Personal? Well, that’s an understatement.
At this morning’s press conference announcing the departure of Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth told a room full of reporters that Whent was resigning for “personal reasons.” The mayor said it had nothing to do with a scandal involving rookie police officers who sexually exploited a minor, or the suspicious death of a police officer’s wife and his subsequent suicide.
“I’m extremely angry about the alleged misconduct in this department,” Schaaf said.
In the scheme of things that are expected of a mayor, extreme anger doesn’t make the list. How about competent management? How about knowing what’s going on within your administration? How about not having your cops on the public dole engaging in crime, in a protection scheme, and with a 17-year-old girl?
Celeste Guap was a prostitute in East Oakland, who was saved by a cop when her pimp chased her down the street. Good cop? Bad cop.
“He saved me,” Guap said.
Rather than detaining Guap as a sexually exploited minor and turning her over to guardians, Guap said O’Brien released her. “We flirted a little,” she recalled, adding that she told O’Brien her mother was a dispatcher in the department.
Two weeks later, Guap saw O’Brien on patrol again in East Oakland and they exchanged numbers. Shortly afterward, O’Brien and the girl began “dating” — a word Guap used to describe their relationship.
Guap said she had sex with O’Brien numerous times while she was seventeen years old.
Was this budding “love”? Not when O’Brien shared the love.
She says that O’Brien later introduced Oakland police officers Terryl Smith and James Ta’ai to Guap. Smith, Ta’ai, and O’Brien worked in the same squad out of OPD’s Eastmont Substation.
According to Guap and fellow officer Luis Roman, three cops committed statutory rape of Guap while she was still 17.
Nice bunch of guys, right? Actually, Guap didn’t appear to be particularly troubled by all this.
In several interviews, Guap maintained that officers were “tricks” who she voluntarily had sex with in exchange for protection, or because she wanted to.
“I think cops are fine. They’re cute and all, but it’s like one less officer that’s gonna arrest me,” she said.
And indeed, her relationships with cops grew, including supervisory officers and cops from other departments, and inured to her benefit to the extent they took Guap under their protection. Until the shit hit the fan when Officer O’Brien killed himself.
This scandal first surfaced after the suicide of officer O’Brien in September 2015. A few days before O’Brien killed himself, Guap informed Leroy Johnson, an Oakland police sergeant and close friend of her mother, that she had been seeing O’Brien since she was seventeen, according to multiple city sources. It’s unclear if Johnson informed internal affairs about O’Brien’s conduct with a juvenile. Johnson, who has since retired from the department, declined to answer questions and referred us to his attorney, who did not return calls.
OPD policy requires supervisors and officers to immediately report any misconduct as soon as they become aware of it.
Guap says she told multiple officers and sergeants, plus Chief Whent’s wife, that she had sex with OPD officers while she was underage.
Could Guap be making all this up? Is this a young prostitute seeking revenge on the police and making false claims? Yeah, well, no.
And then there are the admissions:
A retired Oakland police captain even contacted Guap through Facebook. Guap said the two began talking over Facebook beginning in 2015, when she was still underage. But she was eighteen years old in December of last year when the retired captain met her in a hotel on San Pablo Dam Road in Richmond, where he paid $250 for sex.
The Express called the retired OPD captain and he admitted this.
He also said he met her on Facebook and friended her because she was already friends with other retired Oakland cops. The former captain said Guap told him she was twenty when they had sex.
The Express is not publishing his identity for medical reasons. “Please don’t publish my name. I will die. I have a heart condition,” he said via phone. He currently draws a $125,000 pension from the city.
There is little doubt that these Oakland (and other) cops, including Chief Whent (through his wife, of all people) were involved in, and knew of, rampant criminal conduct with a prostitute, both when she was underage and later, on duty and off, for pay and for protection. This was a force that was already subject to scrutiny.
Independent Monitor Warshaw forced Whent to resign after he discovered the chief knew about Guap’s relationship with O’Brien months before it was brought to the court’s attention.
Yup, those independent federal police monitors will fix everything, right? They seem to be such a fabulous solution when the New York Times extols their virtue when cops engage in rampant violence and misconduct. Problem solved! But what about that extremely angry mayor?
This morning, Shaaf characterized her department’s wrongdoing as “off-duty conduct,” and assured that independent investigations would lead to swift justice.
Not just “justice,” but “swift justice.” Nothing to see in Oakland, as they’ve got their cops totally under control. Wonder what Celeste Guap is doing these days?
H/T Sean Shopes