July 20, 2024
No public explanation given for the changes

OAKLAND — Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price announced a shakeup at the top of her civil rights and public accountability teams on Tuesday, naming new interim leaders of each unit without addressing what happened to the prosecutor she earlier installed to oversee them.

Her office’s statement issued Tuesday said two attorneys are now assigned to lead the Civil Rights Bureau and the Public Accountability Unit, which are tasked with overseeing the prosecution of police officers accused of misconduct and excessive force, as well as reviewing cases under the state’s Racial Justice Act.

The statement made no mention of Kwixuan Maloof, the senior assistant district attorney Price appointed to lead those units shortly after taking office. Patti Lee, a spokesperson for Price, declined to comment when asked about Maloof’s status, calling it a personnel matter.

But a memo Price sent to her staff on Friday shows that Maloof, a former San Francisco public defender, was transferred to the office’s Consumer Justice Bureau, according to a copy of the document obtained by this news organization. His new assignment began Monday, the memo said.

Attempts by this newspaper to reach Maloof Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.

When announcing the formation of the Public Accountability Unit in January, Price tasked Maloof and a team of attorneys and investigators with reopening cases her predecessor, DA Nancy O’Malley, had cleared. The list included the in-custody death of Mario Gonzalez by Alameda city police and two on-duty fatal shootings by an Oakland officer more than a decade ago.

The Public Accountability Unit, under Maloof, kept busy in the months that followed.

In April, prosecutors charged Oakland homicide Detective Phong Tran with multiple felonies, including perjury and bribery after investigators said he paid a witness to falsely testify at a murder trial, then lied about the alleged payoff. In June, an Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled that enough evidence existed to send that case to trial.

And in May, a juvenile institutional officer and two sheriff’s deputies were charged with several felonies regarding separate incidents at two different detention facilities. The officer, Nicole Perales, was accused of lewd and lascivious acts with a child and oral copulation with a minor. The deputies, Sheri Baughman and Amanda Barcamontes, were accused of falsifying records in connection with an inmate suicide at the Santa Rita Jail, according to prosecutors.

More recently, members of the Public Accountability Unit appeared in court to prosecute Amilcar “Butch” Ford, a former Alameda County prosecutor and staunch critic of Price who was charged last month with a misdemeanor stemming from his time with the office.

The misdemeanor charge against Ford revolves around a court declaration he filed disclosing information in the case of San Leandro police officer facing manslaughter charges for the on-duty fatal shooting of a man in 2020. In it, Ford highlighted things he heard Maloof say, including that, “I came here to charge cops. They better be ready. They better Google me.”

Ford — who spoke openly against Price’s policies at a rally outside the courthouse in April — has since left the office and now works for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

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In Tuesday’s press release announcing the new appointments, Price said the teams’ new leaders “signal the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office’s dedication to transparency, civil rights enforcement and accountability for all.”

Demarris Evans, a former San Francisco-based public defender, was appointed interim branch head for the office’s Civil Rights Bureau. She has been a lecturer at San Francisco State University, and has “pioneered racial justice units, advancing equitable practices through litigation and community engagement,” the DA’s press release said.

James Conger, a former San Francisco prosecutor, was named interim head of the Public Accountability Unit. While working across the Bay, he helped investigate and prosecute cases involving police misconduct, the press release said.

Jakob Rodgers is a senior breaking news reporter. Call, text or send him an encrypted message via Signal at 510-390-2351, or email him at [email protected].