The Making of a Police Scandal 

In a case tinged with race and sex, confidential investigative reports reveal that a small cadre of San Leandro cops ginned up explosive charges against one of their own.

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Pickard, an officer and close friend of O'Callaghan who would later join the group of six in alleging sexual harassment against Stancill, also led the effort to go after him, according to the investigation. Two years earlier Stancill recalled Pickard telling him, "We have black officers here, but they're like us. You carry yourself black." Pickard, who is white, denied making the statement when questioned by investigators. But in a nod to the department's woeful record with women and minorities, O'Callaghan told investigators, "The city would rather have an angry woman than one black person crying discrimination."

In January 2010, the city announced a settlement with four of the female officers, totaling $405,000. Among the group were three officers who quit the department in early-2008, but the settlement did not include O'Callaghan and Pickard. They received settlements from the city later, but the agreements raise questions as to whether the city's elected leaders were made aware of background information surrounding O'Callaghan and Pickard's alleged involvement with O'Callaghan's husband, Mike Sobek, in exaggerating sexual harassment charges against Stancill.

Even before the six officers filed suit in federal district court, the city's higher-ups were well-aware of one confidential report completed in April 2008 by a Walnut Creek attorney. That was the first city-commissioned investigation into the scandal, and it focused on whether the sexual harassment claims against Stancill were legitimate. The report concluded that they were not.

The second report, completed in November 2008, centered on Stancill's claim that he had been a victim of a racially inspired smear. Although that report concluded that the campaign against Stancill was not race-based, it also found that O'Callaghan, Sobek, and Pickard had worked in concert to gin up what were ultimately deemed to be bogus charges against Stancill. "Ms. O'Callaghan, Ms. Pickard and/or Mr. Sobek had some involvement in all of the complaints raised against Mr. Stancill," the report noted. "They kept each other informed of their efforts and reached out to try to generate more complaints. In each situation, O'Callaghan, Pickard and Sobek sought out and then exaggerated the facts they reported regarding Stancill's conduct."

The report also questioned the trio's motives and actions in the pursuit of claims against Stancill. The investigation described at least two instances where Sobek allegedly used his status at the department to coerce other female officers to join the case against Stancill. In one instance, a current female officer was urged by O'Callaghan and Sobek to join the other six women in filing sexual harassment complaints after telling another officer about a comment made by Stancill. According to the investigation, O'Callaghan asked the officer to join the litigation and contribute $4,500 toward legal fees. When she declined, O'Callaghan later leaned on her to report Stancill to superiors, according to the investigation. The officer told the investigator later that she felt like "she got dragged into the investigation" of Stancill and had never voiced disapproval over Stancill's comments and, in fact, said the quip he allegedly made to her was amusing.

Nevertheless, O'Callaghan made the incident known to a lieutenant, according to the report. Later, the officer told investigators that Sobek also pressured her to get involved by saying, "Just do it for Annie, you owe it to her." Sobek denied the exchange when asked by the investigator.

According to this second investigation, then-Lieutenant Steven Pricco, who is now second-in-command at the department, had been the nexus for the slew of sexual harassment complaints against Stancill. According to the report, Pricco collected claims from O'Callaghan and another female officer and brought them to the attention of then-Captain Ian Willis. To Stancill, the complaints appeared to trickle in slowly at first but then quickly increased. Within a week, the number of complaints had risen to six.

Sobek, well aware of the growing number of complaints against Stancill, according to the report, appeared to start dropping ominous hints to Stancill about his eventual fate. In the months leading to the issuing of complaints by the six women in December 2007 and January 2008, Sobek told Stancill and the officer who placed first on the sergeant's test, "You know man, things are going to get worse before they get better." (Sobek admitted making the statement but said its context referred to subordinates adjusting to their new supervisors.)

Two weeks later, Sobek told Stancill, "No matter what you do, it will be wrong and no matter what you say, you're not going to win." The other officer who witnessed the statements told investigators that it was not clear whether Sobek was referring specifically to Stancill. But in hindsight, the exchange foreshadowed the next three years of Dewayne Stancill's life.

As Stancill became increasingly ostracized among his peers, he grew more aware of the stark realities of being a "man on an island." He often dressed away from other cops or donned his uniform in his office. Other times he would attempt to supervise using his radio from his office. But then things worsened to potentially dangerous levels: Investigators found that O'Callaghan, Pickard, and other female officers routinely called in sick when scheduled to work under Stancill, citing a fear of working under his supervision. In most cases, accommodations would be made to replace the officer on the shift, but this wasn't always the case, according to Stancill, who said he was purposely left understaffed by Sobek.

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