Pin It

On August 18th, 2013, Officer Adam Basford of the Yakima police department was finishing an administrative call near the 200 block of South 7th street when he heard shots fired.  Seeing Antonio Cardenas running through the neighborhood, officer Basford gave chase and soon caught up to him.

Instead of shooting the suspect, officer Basford engaged him hand to hand. A struggle ensued:

“I didn’t want to draw my gun, because there was a young girl just a few feet away…Cardenas took a swing at me, and missed. I took his back while the two of us were still on our feet. He reached for my lapel microphone and broke it, then said he was going to kill me and that nobody would find my body.”
As they struggled, Cardenas reached for his .44 Desert Eagle and squeezed off a shot. Basford managed to wrench the shooter’s hand away from his body at the last second, but still suffered a grazing gunshot wound to his knee.
While the two were fighting, Yakima dispatch called out for backup, reporting shots fired – “All cars I need you to the 200 block of South 7th Street. We have calls of shots fired – possible officer-involved.” Normally, when an officer calls for backup, every available officer drops what they are doing to help respond. But according to Basford, no one helped him, even officers who arrived on the scene:
“[Officer Booker Ward] saw what was going on, heard me scream at him,” Basford later recalled. “We made eye contact, and he turned and ran away.”
Two other Yakima PD Officers were on bicycle patrol nearby.“They heard me get shot,” Basford recounted to me. “They heard me scream for assistance. They were just two blocks away – but they were fifteen minutes from the end of their shift, and they went back to the station instead of coming to my aid.” Basford would find out later that the bike patrol officers “didn’t think the overtime would be approved.”
Basford said that this wasn’t the first time that the Yakima police refused to provide backup. In fact, he said that they never provided him with backup:
… in the entire time I served as a patrol officer, I never – not once – received requested backup. The officers always told Dispatch that they had a traffic stop, or something else going on. I can understand that this would happen on occasion – but when it happens every time, something’s going on.”
Why would they do that?
Basford believes that he was singled out for aggressive neglect “because I crossed the Blue Line. I filed official complaints about misconduct and abuse that I saw on the street and in the lock-up.”
Self Serving Drama
Yakima police officials say Basford was not targeted because of his allegations of police corruption, which they say he never shared with them.“I’m not aware of him ever coming forward to report corruption,” police Chief Dominic Rizzi Jr. said.
An internal affairs report found that Basford violated the department’s policy on the use of force and being dishonest by changing his story three times about what happened that night.Among the changing stories, Basford initially told Upton that he saw Cardenas throw something out of his pocket that then exploded. He told another officer that he had seen Cardenas fire four or five shots from a gun, and that Cardenas turned and fired on him. In a written report, Basford wrote that he heard a single “boom” but could not see what caused it, and that he did not see Cardenas with a gun when he first encountered him on the street.
Basford described to me a difficult upbringing in a troubled home with a father who was intractably mired in a criminal subculture. Earlier this year his father committed suicide in suspicious circumstances. There may be a connection between Cardenas’s associates and the death of Basford’s father…
If this is true, then it would explain why some Yakima police officer’s claimed that Basford drew his gun and attempted to execute Cardenas. According to Captain Jeff Schneider:
Basford’s account seems to be a mix of facts, exaggerations, fantasies and self-serving drama…In the end, he was unable to control himself, which led to him pointing a handgun at a handcuffed and controlled suspect.
Culture of Retaliation
And yet, the Yakima PD’s recent history suggests that a culture of retaliation exists.  The taxpayers of Yakima recently paid out $350k to settle a lawsuit filed by officer Rey Garza. The charge? Retaliation for reporting misconduct:
In the lawsuit, Garza alleged that he was reassigned from his duties at the Yakima Police Athletic League (“YPAL”) facility in 2006 and further retaliated against after he reported misconduct by another Yakima police officer who was also assigned to YPAL at the time.
Garza is not the only officer to make these allegations. Captain Rod Light and Sergeant Brenda George claimed that the Yakima PD retaliated against them for reporting misconduct related to the Yakima Police Athletic League. Officer Stacey Andrews alleged that she suffered retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.
The city settled these lawsuits at taxpayer expense, but those cases represented only a portion of the retaliation complaints the department has seen. And that was just the police.
Apparently, the YPD also retaliates against citizens who exercise their rights. This was made clear when Eddie Ford, a friend of Basford’s, was awarded $65k after filing suit against the city for retaliation:
Police arrested Eddie Ford on July 17, 2007, on a noise ordinance violation. He was acquitted in municipal court and filed suit against the city and the two officers involved, claiming they arrested him in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech.
Don’t Sue Us, We’ll Sue You
But it appears that the city has learned something from all of those retaliation lawsuits. As part of his deal to leave the YPD, Adam Basford:
…reached an agreement with the city to resign in November 2013. In return for four month’s pay and benefits — $30,044 — and almost $6,000 to pay for five months of health insurance premiums, Basford agreed to not sue the city.
However, the city never agreed not to sue him. So that’s exactly what they did. The charge? Filing a false police report.
The incident occurred when the civilian Basford ran into YPD Officer Ryan Yates outside of a gun store. Basford explained:
I ran into Yates outside a gun shop, and he smirked at me and grabbed his gun…I had seen him do this same thing many times on the street in an effort to provoke somebody he wanted to rough up and arrest. I thought his conduct was threatening and unprofessional, so I filed a complaint with his supervisor.
So was Basford making it all up? Was he settling a score with a guy who might have been involved in his father’s death? Did the video tape bust him trying to lie about another cop to get him in trouble?  Or, is this just another case of a YPD officer receiving retaliation from a department famous for retaliating against its officers and citizens?
One thing is sure, we can’t ask Adam Basford. That’s because as part of the current lawsuit against him, he faces a “a gag order imposed on him through a ‘Stipulated Order of Continuance’ arising from the vindictive and unjustified charge of filing a false report.”  The result is that:
…the Yakima PD can tell whatever story it wants about Adam Basford, and Mr. Basford faces the prospect of imprisonment if he speaks in his own defense.
Very Kafka-esque.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.