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Incessant teasing, fear of failure and a sense of inadequacy were at the root of allegations leveled against a cadre of Oakland police officers, the defense tried to show Tuesday. Keith Batt, the rookie cop who blew the whistle on the self-styled “Riders” officers, was cross-examined by defense attorney Michael Rains, whose questions suggested that Batt fabricated the story to save his own career — and then continued to exaggerate it. Batt’s testimony marks the second week of the police misconduct trial before Judge Leopoldo Dorado. Three police officers — who were part of a group calling itself the Riders — are accused of beating suspects, planting evidence and falsifying police reports to cover their tracks. The defendants, Matthew Hornung, Clarence Mabanag and Jude Siapno, were fired after Batt told superiors about the alleged misconduct. Another accused officer, Francisco Vazquez, is a fugitive, and authorities believe he has fled to Mexico. Rains, who represents Mabanag, spent the afternoon pursuing a line of questioning designed to show that Batt, a Sebastopol native, was “overwhelmed” by gritty Oakland’s crime. And, Rains posited, if Batt told his supervisors that he wasn’t cut out to be an Oakland cop — as opposed to blaming his departure on other cops’ alleged illegal conduct — he might have had to repay the department $8,000 in training costs. “You knew that if you resigned from the Oakland Police Department for personal reasons it was not likely that you would get another [police] job?” asked Rains. “Yes,” answered Batt, who is now a police officer in Pleasanton. Batt acknowledged that Oakland Police Chief Richard Word told him he didn’t have to repay the fees because he blew the whistle on the Riders. Batt said that Mabanag, who was his field training officer and direct supervisor, teased him “daily” about how small he was. He testified that once in the locker room, a burly cop grabbed him from behind and shook him, and all the officers in the room laughed. Rains also zeroed in on conflicting statements that Batt gave when he was questioned by the police department’s internal affairs division during the preliminary hearing and during trial. In court, Rains drew columns on an oversized note pad to show how the story changed. According to Rains, Batt told internal affairs that Mabanag said to him, “Do you have a problem with the way we do police reports?” During the preliminary hearing, Batt testified that Mabanag said, “Is it the lying in police reports or the excessive force that you don’t like?” Batt said he discussed the allegations with so many district attorney and internal affairs investigators that he doesn’t remember what he said to specific people. Rains also asked Batt about a bottle of wine he gave Mabanag as a parting gift — even though Batt had already decided at that time to complain to internal affairs about the officer. Batt answered that he gave Mabanag the wine because he’d promised it some time earlier and because he was also “scared of him.” Rains seized on Batt’s earlier testimony that the rookie told police brass about the alleged misconduct because “it was the right thing” to do. “It’s the right thing not to falsely accuse people of wrongdoing, right?” Rains fired back. As Rains peppered him with questions, Batt answered calmly, addressing Rains as “sir,” and corrected the attorney if he felt he was downplaying the Riders’ actions. Batt has also filed a civil suit, seeking damages against the city, Rains pointed out. Earlier in the day, Judge Dorado lost his patience with an elderly spectator who voiced support of Batt in open court. At the time, prosecutor David Hollister was questioning Batt about threats Batt said he and his family have received since he left the Oakland police force. Why, Hollister asked, didn’t Batt decide to “divorce” himself from the scandal instead of take it to the next level? “I didn’t think that would be the right thing to do,” Batt said. “That’s right,” chimed in Darwin Hood, a 63-year-old man with a wooden cane who was sitting at the rear of the courtroom. The interruption angered the judge, who ordered the bailiffs to take Hood out of the courtroom. After the jurors and the attorneys left for a court recess, Hood was brought back before the judge, who rattled off a litany of contempt rules that the man violated. “I’m sorry about that,” Hood said. “I couldn’t help myself.” Dorado wasn’t appeased. “Sorry isn’t nearly close to good enough,” he snapped, and then told the bailiffs to take Hood to jail. Batt’s testimony is expected to continue today when defense attorneys Edward Fishman, who represents Hornung, and William Rapoport, who represents Siapno, are expected to begin their questioning.

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