Home » Abuse Inquiry Targets Pasadena’s Ex-Chief

Abuse Inquiry Targets Pasadena’s Ex-Chief

The girlfriend of former Police Department head accused him of beating her but later recanted. He is now living in Virginia and has declined to comment.

May 5, 1995

By RICHARD WINTON AND CHIP JACOBS
Special to the Times

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into whether recently departed Pasadena Police Chief Jerry A. Oliver repeatedly beat his girlfriend while serving as the city’s top police official.

The girlfriend subsequently recanted her allegations that Oliver abused her at least seven times between October, 1993, and June, 1994. The description of the physical abuse is contained in a summarized police report obtained by The Times.

Oliver, who resigned from his Pasadena post last month to become police chief of Richmond, Va., declined to comment through a city official there.

In Pasadena, City Manager Philip A. Hawkey said he was aware of the district attorney’s probe and has informed City Council members.

“Jerry told me about this last fall,” Hawkey said.

Citing policy, a district attorney’s spokeswoman refused to confirm or deny whether there is an investigation of Oliver. However, Pasadena’s acting city attorney, Cristina L. Sierra, said she had been in recent contact with prosecutors and confirmed the probe is taking place.

Three years ago, Oliver’s fourth wife accused him of repeated physical abuse and electronic surveillance during their 14-month marriage, according to divorce records filed in court. Jackie Oliver also made a 911 “family disturbance” call to Pasadena police in the fall of 1991. Oliver denied her allegations.

Oliver, 48, was a popular figure during his four-year stint in Pasadena. Among other achievements, he was credited with pioneering a community policing program and the country’s first ammunition registration law.

According to the police report, Oliver struck his girlfriend with his fist, causing a facial injury. In another confrontation listed in the report, she claimed that Oliver hurt her so badly that she needed medical treatment, including a neck brace.

The report said that, in a separate incident, Oliver squeezed the woman’s hand so tightly it bled, and that he verbally and mentally abused her throughout their relationship. The alleged abuse occurred during a seven-month period at Oliver’s Pasadena house, the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel and other unspecified locations, the report said.

The girlfriend’s name was not mentioned in the records obtained by The Times, but Hawkey confirmed that she was the alleged victim.

The girlfriend, a county health worker, did not return several phone calls seeking comment. Sources familiar with the probe said she has refused to help the district attorney’s office prosecute the case. Last summer she contacted police about the alleged beatings but has since recanted the allegations, according to Pasadena officials and police records.

However, even if the victim in a criminal case does not file charges or declines to cooperate, authorities can still file charges. In such cases, prosecutors can rely on medical records, eyewitness accounts and other evidence.

Several Pasadena City Council members said they were stunned by the 1- to 2-year-old allegations and were unhappy that they were not told about it by city officials until this week.

“It’s unfortunate something like this wasn’t told to the entire council. We should have been briefed with more efficiency,” Councilman Chris Holden said.

Councilman William Crowfoot said he learned of the domestic violence claims only after recent media inquiries and knew nothing about the district attorney’s investigation. Hawkey “didn’t tell me this last fall,” Crowfoot said.

Hawkey said the Oliver matter was a personnel issue and thus a confidential one. Because of that, Hawkey, who has authority to hire and fire the police chief, said he told only the mayor and the mayor pro tem.

In Virginia, Richmond City Manager Robert Bobb said Oliver told him he had had problems with his girlfriend but did not mention a criminal investigation. “We have to discuss these issues with Mr. Oliver,” Bobb said. “If there is something wrong, file charges against him. Don’t let it drag out and ruin a person’s reputation.”

Pasadena officials have refused to release the full June police report, and only confirmed the district attorney’s probe Thursday.

On April 4, City Atty. Sierra said the only domestic violence incident she knew about involving Oliver and the girlfriend was a January telephone call to police from a person outside the city asking officers to check on the girlfriend’s “welfare” at Oliver’s home. No police report was ever filed in that case. On April 20-one day before Oliver left his Pasadena job-Sierra released the summarized police report of Oliver’s alleged abuse and acknowledged knowing about the summarized report’s existence for a week.

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