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SJ police group calls for firing of auditor

The San Jose Police Officers Association today has again called for the firing of independent police auditor Aaron Zisser, who they allege has supported violence against officers.

POA President Paul Kelly took issue with Zisser’s attendance at a rally on July 7 protesting the July 2016 police killing of 18-year-old Anthony Nunez, but Zisser maintains that he attended a pre-rally gathering to listen to the family’s concerns.

At the protest, Kelly claimed an attendee directed comments at an individual police officer, saying:

“We’re coming for you, you murdered Anthony Nunez in front of his home.”

Kelly said Zisser’s attendance at the pre-protest gathering showed support for the message. Zisser said he did not hear the statements and wouldn’t have considered them inappropriate, but Kelly said he should have known better before associating himself with the group.

Zisser said:

“Obviously I don’t think that’s a civil, appropriate way of communicating that message.”

But emphasized that his job was to listen to the families who were traumatized by the shooting. He said Kelly’s allegations effectively demonized them and the other protesters, painting everyone with broad strokes based on one person’s remarks.

He added:

“Coming after me is one thing — going after families is another.”

The POA initially called for Zisser’s firing on June 25, saying he skewed values in a report to the mayor and City Council to overstate police bias against people of color in use of force cases.

Today, Kelly also accused Zisser of failing to notify the San Jose Police Department about a citizen complaint the auditor’s office received in which a man made a threat to shoot a police officer in the face.

Zisser said he could not comment on the complaint due to confidentiality rules, but said a complaint of that nature would “absolutely” be grounds for notifying police. He said he is currently investigating the matter and has been transparent with police about his process.

Kelly said during a news conference today that he is not interested in speaking with Zisser further while the mayor and City Council review the allegations in a formal investigation.

He explained that he supports the existence of the auditor’s office:

“We are here to condemn an individual, not the office.”

Kelly said he will not be able to work with Zisser in the future if he doesn’t resign:

“The longer he stays, the longer he hurts the [San Jose Police Department].”

Zisser said any decisions regarding his employment lie with the mayor and City Council, but his department is “extremely” committed to fairness.

Zisser said:

“I take this job very seriously. I moved here for my family, for this job; it’s my community, it’s where I grew up. I will continue to plug away at this work that I care about so much.”

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