Grantee shows that city tolerated police mistakes, enabling them to continue killing civilians

A memorial to Ronell Foster in February 2018. (Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo)

In a deep dive into thousands of pages of documents, reporter Laurence Du Sault, writing for Open Vallejo and ProPublica, probed what happens inside the Vallejo, California, police department after police kill civilians. With a grant and editorial mentorship from the Fund, Du Sault and the Open Vallejo team analyzed and coded years of internal police records, built two databases that fueled the reporting, and supported public records litigation that led to the disclosure of thousands of pages of previously-unseen records. Du Sault also interviewed people affected by the department’s killings of civilians. The reporting uncovered a pattern of delayed and incomplete internal police investigations of fatal shootings – with some officers allowed to remain on the force and kill again. Six of the department’s 17 fatal shootings in the last decade involved an officer using deadly force while still under investigation for a prior killing.