Sergeant takes stand in ‘Riders’ case

Daily Planet Wire Service
Wednesday October 09, 2002

OAKLAND – An Oakland police sergeant testified in Alameda County Superior Court Monday that some of the aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics allegedly used by a group of former officers known as the 'Riders' were improper. 

Sgt. Anthony Banks Sr., a 20-year police department veteran, is testifying as a prosecution witness today in the Oakland courtroom of Judge Leo Dorado. Banks is assigned to the traffic enforcement section but worked previously in the training section as a coordinator of the Police Academy and Field Training Program. 

It was in that capacity, Banks testified Monday, that he got to know a young rookie named Keith Batt. 

Batt, 25, now a Pleasanton police officer, is a key prosecution witness in the trial of three former officers accused of criminal misconduct. 

His resignation from the Oakland Police Department on July 4, 2000, midway through his 10th shift on the force, led to an Internal Affairs investigation and the dismissal of the officers now on trial. 

Clarence “Chuck” Mabanag, 37, Matthew Hornung, 30, and Jude Siapno, 34, are charged with filing false police reports and conspiring to hide their transgressions over a two-week period in June and July 2000. 

They have pleaded innocent to the charges. 

A fourth defendant, Francisco “Frank” Vazquez, fled to avoid prosecution. 

Batt said that while working graveyard shifts patrolling the streets of west Oakland with the clique of former officers known as the Riders, he was instructed to falsify police reports and witnessed the men use unjustified force. 

Banks, a brawny and articulate motorcycle officer, recalled under direct examination today his first impression of Batt. 

“[Batt was] a little scrawny kid, real small,” Banks said.