tv NBC Bay Area We Investigate NBC April 11, 2016 12:00am-12:31am PDT
bigad shaban: you're watching an nbc bay area news special, "we investigate." mariah quarter: a lot of things go on behind closed doors. bigad: some of the most vulnerable children, those living in group homes, become victimized again. bigad: is the system failing children right now? mark stone: yes, yes. that's the point. bigad: plus-- doug huff: i got assaulted in the-- waiting room, and i get tased. bigad: cops and cameras. male: and just so you know, we have body cameras now so the incident's being recorded, okay? bigad: we investigate how and when officers hit "record" on their body cameras. seth morris: you c't have some officers turning on their cameras sometimes, and some officers turning cameras on other times. bigad: but first-- tim smith: seen five dead bodies now in east oakland, my little guy. bigad: we take you to the front lines of the gun violence crisis and show you the physical and emotional toll it's taking on the community. here's senior investigative reporter, stephen stock.
stephen stock: thank you for joining us. we begin our program in oakland, where we found two cities, prosperity and violence. while many tech companies are now bringing economic prosperity to oakland, we discovered many other neighborhoods still struggling with record violence. last year, 83 people were murdered in the city. we spent 6 months investigating a crisis there that some experts compare to an affliction suffered by veterans returning home from war. john jones: oakland's really a beautiful city. stephen: in the shadow of the homes of high-tech tenants such uber, ask, and pandora-- john: this is where it starts at. stephen: we walked the streets of east oakland. stephen: so i see cops already here. is this a nightly occurrence? john: oh yes. absolutely. stephen: where residents say they've been left behind. john: there was money here. it moved out. stephen: we met john jones here.
he grew up in this neighborhood, where he said there was little hope, and lots of drugs and violence. this, according to more than a dozen people we talked to, is ground zero for the problem of gun violence in america, on streets like this one, where guns are a way of life. john: and i'm not talkin' about, like, just one set of gunfire. like, it could be three, or four, five different sets of shootin's. stephen: we walked past the spot where last september two people were gunned down. john: every night, pa-pa-pa-pa, all kind of guns. stephen: and in a six-block radius around where we walked, another half dozen people had been murdered since october, all with guns. john: you get to a point where could begin to identify 'em. "well, that's a 9 millimeter right there. okay, that's a 12 gauge. ooh, that's a ak. or that's a tec-9." stephen: in the same time period in this neighborhood, oakland police also made 37 different arrests on gun charges, another 946 assault charges. john: and then you start hearin' about, "oh, well so-and-so just got killed last night." stephen: this is the reality for john jones and his neighbors.
john: three people got shot this time, right? stephen: jones himself got caught up in the gun violence cycle. he served time for his involvement in a gun murder as a teenager. john: and then it started gettin' close to home when it started bein' your friends. stephen: our investigative unit mapped the numbers. of the 30 murders in oakland since last august, all but 5 happened either in west or east oakland, mostly along or near international boulevard. similar clustering can be found for arrests involving guns and assaults. john: no child in america should have to go through this. not in america, the most wealthiest nation on earth. stephen: as jones showed us around his old stomping ground-- male: my family has been on 89th since the '70s, right? stephen: we met up with tim smith and his 8-year-old son. tim: he's seen five dead bodies now, in east oakland. my little guy, right? stephen: that's right, tim smith's 8-year-old son has already seen five people shot dead. tim: i mean, we came out of the store, and a body is on the ground. and you're telling your guy, "hey, look over here."
and it's just, it's inescapable. stephen: the data also shows this violence can almost be a daily presence in the lives of people who live here. looking at oakland shot spotter numbers, we discovered that in the first 9 months of last year, nearly 10 shots a day were fired on average. in fact, medical experts now say they see clear evidence of mental trauma among residents of neighborhoods and cities such as oakland, post-traumatic stress disorder, or ptsd. anne marks: it's absolutely true that people have ptsd. stephen: anne marks serves as executive director at youth alive! based in oakland. anne: it's not the same as a soldier. a soldier goes to war and they come home. stephen: marks is a specially trained psychological counselor who deals with the results of this violence while trying to break the cycle. anne: we work with young people who get shot, go to the hospital, get their treatment, come back to the same community, maybe the same home where they were shot in front of.
stephen: youth alive! visits every family victimized by gun violence in oakland. their crisis response team is often at the home of the victim's family before police are finished investigating. anne: so there's no post to the traumatic stress, right? it's continuing traumatic stress disorder. and that's unique. jessica aguirre: post-traumatic stress disorder, you most often hear about ptsd-- stephen: and as the investigative unit first reported back in 2014 in partnership with the investigative group pro publica, chicago found more than half of its gunshot wound victims had signs of ptsd. and a study of nearly 8,000 atlanta residents found about 30% had symptoms consistent with ptsd, a rate as high or higher than veterans returning from war. stephen: do you think you have ptsd? john: absolutely, absolutely, not a doubt. i, like i say, if i go into a restaurant, or store, or business, i cannot sit with my back to the door. i don't like to sit with my back to a window. like, even when i'm on the streets now,
it's why i'm lookin' around. i don't like havin' my back to traffic. it's just too much. stephen: we also discovered that experts are only now beginning to talk about treating these residents for ptsd. bigad: up next, are cops recording on their body cameras when it matters most? chris magnus: there have to be consequences if you don't turn on your body camera. bigad: we investigate how often officers hit "record" during use-of-force incidents.
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police agencies across the country, including agencies here in the bay area. senior investigative reporter vicky nguyen looks into how often those cameras are actually turned on and record. doug: i was slowly moving to the ground. vicky nguyen: you're watching cell phone video recorded by a mountain view police officer during the arrest of doug huff. doug: protect and serve my-- male: sir, stop resisting. doug: i'm not resisting-- vicky: huff shared this video with us, admitting it doesn't show him at his best. but he says what this officer's video also doesn't show, the moment police tased him in the chest and neck. female: he never moved his hands-- vicky: huff says he and his wife were waiting at a doctor's appointment when they got into an argument with another patient. doug: he started swinging his cane-- vicky: huff says he pulled out his pocket knife with a 3-inch blade, and that's when office staff called 911. female: and he has the knife. what kind of knife is it? female: a pocket knife. vicky: what happened next is in dispute.
officers say huff ran out of the building and continued to run after they told him to stop. they say huff reached down toward his waistline where an officer saw a knife clipped. that officer tased him. huff was arrested for charges including brandishing a weapon and resisting arrest, to which he pled no contest. but he wants to know why there's no video of what happened before he was tased. he claims it would show officers caused these cuts and bruises. female: my husband's head was just going straight into the curb. vicky: mountain view police declined to speak on camera because huff has filed a complaint against the department. but mvpd said none of the four officers on scene had a body camera because the incident took place during the voluntary phase of the department's body cam program. doug: this is my--tax dollars at work. chris: i think the trend, frankly, is gonna be towards greater and greater openness. vicky: chris magnus just took the top cop job in tucson, but he served as chief of richmond pd for the past decade. vicky: do you think that all police departments should move in the direction of getting body cameras? chris: i do, i think that not only should they do it,
but i think the public's going to expect that they do it. vicky: magnus oversaw the implementation of richmond's body camera policy. male: it operates, it feels just like a real gun. vicky: and training for its 188 officers last year. male: and just so you know, we have body cameras now so the incident's being recorded, okay? vicky: officers go through drills like this every 3 months to keep their skills sharp, skills that now include turning on their cameras at the beginning of any call for service. male: keep your hands right where i can see 'em. don't move. don't move. vicky: data from richmond pd shows in the first 2 months officers were equipped with cameras, the department logged 28 use-of-force incidents. that means anything from an officer displaying a taser to firing a weapon. but none of those incidents was recorded. data shows over time the numbers steadily improved to 48% in the first 6 months. and most recently, 92% of use-of-force incidents were caught on camera. chris: you're expected to have the camera on-- vicky: magnus says there are times officers can turn off their cameras, including when they're dealing with victims of
sex assault, or juveniles. but repeatedly not rolling during a use-of-force will result in discipline. chris: there have to be consequences if you don't turn on your body camera. and we have, in fact, disciplined some folks for that. vicky: the investigative unit requested similar data from all bay area police departments with body cams. but here at oakland pd there's no way to know how often the cameras are turned on, recording, or broken during use-of-force incidents, even though the department has had more cameras, and for longer, than almost any other bay area department. the pilot program started in 2010 and became official in 2013. a spokesperson for oak pd says the agency doesn't have a tracking mechanism to show when cameras are rolling. we requested multiple interviews with chief sean whent to ask why, but we were told he could not accommodate our request. seth: you can't have some officers turning on their cameras and some officers turning cameras on other times. vicky: seth morris is a deputy public defender in alameda county. his office represents 40,000 people a year. vicky: why do you think it's so important to have that data?
seth: because in a use-of-force, you have a police officer who's taking one of the weapons that they're armed with and deciding to deploy it against a civilian. male: i'm officer--what's wrong? seth: and in those moments, that's when the community is most concerned about an officer acting correctly. vicky: morris says not only is it troubling if the department doesn't track whether it's officers are recording during use-of-force incidents-- male: drop the gun! drop the gun! vicky: he's also seen another change at opd. seth: they'll say to the other officer, "i think we need to have an administrative conversation." vicky: is that code for, "turn off your body camera, we'll talk about this later"? seth: it is, it is. it's an unwritten code. vicky: opd says it's policy allows officers to turn off cameras when they are discussing administrative, tactical, or law enforcement sensitive information. vicky: what do you make of that? seth: i think it's bs, to be honest. i think that there should be ultimate transparency. doug: i got assaulted in the--waiting room and i get tased. vicky: as for doug huff, a judge ultimately sentenced him
to 1 day in county jail and anger management classes. vicky: some people might say you were taunting the officers. doug: i was more overcome just with the situation. vicky: but he says he wishes the officers were wearing body cameras and rolling from the start. doug: i thought i had the right to remain silent. vicky: to capture the good, bad, and ultimately, get as close to the truth as possible for both sides. doug: cameras might be a starting point. stephen: now, since this report originally aired, vicky did sit down for a one-on-one interview with oakland police chief sean whent, which will air in the coming weeks. bigad: coming up, children living in government-funded group homes victimized by the people who are supposed to protect them. bigad: how were you treated? female: like an animal, basically. bigad: up next, the dangerous safety violations the nbc bay area investigative unit discovered.
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government-funded homes. we're talking about children who are already victims of abuse and neglect, then placed in children's group homes. investigative reporter bigad shaban spent the last 3 months looking into the issue. he found examples of children suffering disturbing physical and sexual abuse. mariah: oh, yeah, 2009. bigad: for most of her life, 16-year-old mariah quarter was raised by strangers. bigad: how were you treated? mariah: like an animal, basically. bigad: she and her sisters were placed with separate foster families after their father was set to prison for murder. but mariah was later relocated to a group home, a sort of modern-day orphanage funded by the government to care for kids and teens who've been pulled from their families because of abuse or neglect. mariah says over the years, she was shuffled to at least 6 different group homes. mariah: there was always a lot more accountability in foster homes. you had more of a family structure. whereas in group homes, it's just,
it's kind of like a warehouse for children. bigad: did the staff there ever get physical with you? mariah: yeah. bigad: did it ever leave a mark, or were you ever injured? mariah: i've had twist ankles, bruises all over, scratches all the time. bigad: there are 166 group homes across the bay area that can house anywhere from 4 to over 100 children. we discovered that over the past 5 years, there have been 815 violations at bay area group homes that posed an immediate risk to children, according to data we obtained from the california department of social services. bigad: to find out what those kids and teens had to endure, we obtained hundreds of pages of inspection reports from the state. what we discovered were serious and disturbing allegations that government inspectors determined were true. bigad: a group home employee sexually abused a child, staff did drugs with a child, an employee brought a loaded gun into a group home. investigators also found cases of delayed medical treatment. in one example, staff failed to provide medical attention to a
child after a seizure. at the same group home, a child was injured, resulting in two broken bones. but the facility did not report the injury. that home was also cited for using behavior-modifying drugs as punishment. after acting out, one child was given benadryl on at least 30 documented occasions, which can cause drowsiness. the state even found a group home employee physically abusing a child, and using an unnamed object like a whip. and all of these group homes are still open. bigad: is the system failing children right now? mark: yes, yes, that's the point. bigad: we showed our findings to california assemblyman mark stone of monterey, who's fighting for a complete overhaul of the state's child welfare system. mark: when you look at all of the negative outcomes for the foster care population, the lack of the number of kids going into higher education, just the absolute lack of success, that's the danger that the system puts the kids into. bigad: stone recently got legislation passed to eliminate
group homes in california by 2021. they'd be replaced with short-term residential facilities, which would provide housing and medical services to the most at-risk children, in hopes they could be transferred to foster homes after about 6 months mark: if there's severe trauma issues, they'll go into a short-term treatment center. bigad: there are about 3700 children in group homes across california. most are between the ages of 6 and 17, and many are there because there just aren't enough foster families willing to take them in. so to close down all the group homes, counties across the state would need to recruit more foster families than they ever have. mark: if there's not enough foster families, we may need to have some group homes. but i tell you, i will be one. and i'm hoping that the department of social services will look to that very skeptically. bigad: the state's department of social services is in charge of licensing and inspecting group homes. so we wanted to talk with the director, will lightbourne. but the agency's spokesperson, michael weston, told us he would be the only person available.
michael weston: we have quality providers out there. and when they care for children in the structure we have, those children's needs can be met. bigad: but if you some group homes that are abusing children, that aren't giving them enough food, aren't kids being put in danger? michael: well, in those cases, the department has the tools to deal with that. bigad: weston said that can include meeting with a group home to discuss improvements, putting them on probation, or even shutting them down. weston defended that process repeatedly. michael: and the department has a process. and there's a process for dealing with that. it's an administrative process that does take time, but it is effective. bigad: but if these kids are getting hurt in the meantime, can you honestly say that's happening fast enough? michael: well, the department has a process for dealing with that. bigad: weston eventually admitted that process isn't quick. michael: it's a very long process in order to investigate and close a facility from start to finish. bigad: mariah quarter is now out of the group home system
and living with her mom. she's also working alongside other teens at the california youth connection, a nonprofit group that's been advocating for child welfare reform for the past 2 decades. mariah says if changing the system will take years, the state needs to do more to ensure children like her are protected in the meantime. stephen: now, last year the state shut down six group homes. we posted the violation records for every group home in the bay area on our website. just go to nbcbayarea.com. bigad: coming up, the well-known but little-treated crisis facing college athletes. jennifer medina: there's no risk-free sport. bigad: the nbc bay area investigative unit looks at how local colleges are screening for eating disorders. this pimple's gonna aw com'on.ver. clearasil ultra works fast to begin visibly clearing up skin in as little as 12 hours. and acne won't last forever. just like your mom
this pimple's gonna aw com'on.ver. clearasil ultra works fast to begin visibly clearing up skin in as little as 12 hours. and acne won't last forever. just like your mom won't walk in on you... forever. let's be clear. clearasil works fast. making a college sports team can be a dream come true. but that intense drive to succeed can also fuel a serious health condition. senior investigative reporter vicky nguyen talked to students and medical experts who say eating disorders among athletes get little attention. and in some cases, the disorders are ignored by coaches and administrators. vicky: mary wright earned a scholarship to run cross country for ucla, achieving a goal she'd had since she was a little girl. mary wright: and was super excited. it had always been my dream school. vicky: but she says the pressure to perform at the collegiate level triggered new anxiety,
worries about her weight, reinforced in the locker room. mary: you'd stand in a line of girls and you get, you know, a number. everyone hears what your body fat is. i mean, they don't announce it. but, "okay, you're 12%. you're 9%." "oh, she's 9%. she's running faster." vicky: nervous about her spot on the roster, mary looked to a teammate for guidance. mary: she was losing weight, and then she was running faster. and then you realize that she's restricting her food completely. and so, without really even noticing, i was emulating what she was doing. vicky: by the end of her freshman year, losing weight became an obsession. so much so, mary chose to leave the team. mary: and i just was completely done. vicky: former cal soccer player jennifer medina says she also began restricting food. jennifer medina: i kinda was just barely functioning. vicky: but her short-term solution led to long-term health problems. jennifer: when they did a bone density scan, you know, i was already in my 60s. vicky: your bones were weak. jennifer: yeah. vicky: from the eating disorder. jennifer: mm-hmm. vicky: median says her coach reacted by forcing her to out
herself to the entire team. jennifer: and i just mortified. i knew his intentions were right. his execution was just wrong. and his execution is not uncommon. vicky: now, as a therapist, she helps students struggling with eating disorders, and wants to change the game. vicky: what kinds of sports do you see eating disorders in? jennifer: it runs the gamut. there's no risk-free sport. for guys as well, though. vicky: to see how deep the problem runs here in california, the investigative unit asked all public division 1 and division 2 programs how many student athletes they've treated for eating disorders in the last 5 years. the 28 schools educate nearly 10,000 student athletes each year, but none of them had any idea. some schools told us they don't track that information. others said they didn't refer any students for treatment. vicky: to someone who says, "well, this isn't happening in california," what would you say? jennifer: bull-- i don't know of any college
coach that could look me in the eye and say that. i just, i can't, just not true. vicky: in 1999, the ncaa surveyed 1400 student athletes, and found 34% of women at risk for anorexia, and 38% of men with signs of bulimia. those results prompted both the ncaa and the athletic trainers association to give schools screening guidelines using questions like, "has anyone ever set a target weight for you?" and, "do you ever limit food intake to control weight?" but our review of medical history forms found those best practices are often ignored. out of the 28 california schools that offer ncaa scholarships, at least half a dozen don't ask any recommended questions about weight and body image. dr. jennifer carlson: i think it is key to have some type of question we're at least asking about these issues. because otherwise they may never come up. vicky: pediatrician jennifer carlson works with student athletes as part of the eating disorders care team at lucile packard children's hospital.
jennifer carlson: we have seen athletes who, at age 20, 21, have fractures that you should not be seeing until somebody is more at the age of 50 or 60. vicky: carlson is now working to design a scoring system that will identify students at risk using medical histories from stanford sports teams. jennifer carlson: we looked over the course of their college career to see, "did they sustain any stress fractures or bone injuries?" roger elrod: so what we're trying to do is identify as many students as possible. vicky: san jose state student health director roger elrod says his department has a team dedicated to treating all students with eating disorders, including athletes. for the first time this spring, that team will meet with the entire coaching staff to help them identify athletes at risk. roger: the problem is, there's still just a whole lot of shame and stigma associated with eating disorders. vicky: but not all schools are as proactive. unlike other medical conditions, including concussions, schools aren't required to follow best practices for preventing and treating disordered eating. we asked to speak with the chancellor's office for both the csu and uc system.
both declined our request to discuss problems on their campuses. vicky: you, as an athlete, were you educated about the signs and symptoms? mary: not at all. vicky: mary wright says it's a health risk that needs attention now so that more athletes don't follow in her footsteps. stephen: we posted information for parents, coaches, and athletes on how to prevent these eating disorders on our website, nbcbayarea.com. we thank you for watching. you're invited to join us regularly, right here on nbc bay area. why? because we investigate.
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