This multi-part series focuses on José Susumo Azano Matsura, a wealthy and connected Mexican surveillance dealer accused of illegally funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into San Diego campaigns and his seven-year fight with Fortune 500 company Sempra Energy. The dispute between Azano and Sempra resulted in numerous criminal investigations on both sides of the border into drug trafficking, bribery and extortion and reached the highest levels of the U.S. and Mexican governments. The series shows how pressure from federal law enforcement, spurred by Sempra, led to Azano’s downfall and raises significant questions about the company’s own activities in Mexico.
In April 2015, a San Diego police officer shot and killed an unarmed mentally ill refugee named Fridoon Rawshan Nehad. The shooting had been captured on a surveillance camera and, according to people who had seen the video, was a shocking example of an unprovoked shooting. But San Diego politicians and law enforcement officials would not release the footage to the public. In response, I led a coalition of local media organizations to file a motion in federal court to allow for the video’s release. Despite the intense opposition of the mayor, police chief and district attorney, a judge ruled in our favor and the footage was made public. The decision led San Diego law enforcement to change its policies to allow for greater transparency of video footage in disputed shootings and prompted an intense debate on the propriety of the officer’s actions. I also was the first reporter to interview the shooting victim’s family.
By their own standard, San Diego’s first responders arrived late an average of two times every hour of the day to the highest priority medical emergencies. And nowhere in San Diego had a greater chance for delays than five neighborhoods within 9 ½ square miles south and east of downtown, which include some of the poorest parts of the city. Our narrative examined the human impact of late responses and held elected officials accountable for their broken promises. We also created an interactive map of late responses so that people could see what happened on their block. After we published the investigation, the city committed millions of dollars toward speeding response times in the most underserved neighborhoods.
Explanatory follow-up: http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/07/25/emergency-response-when-every-second-counts/
The San Diego Police Department used to be a national leader in addressing racial profiling issues. But our investigation found the department rarely followed its own rules to track profiling in traffic stops — and that in the months prior to the the story’s publication, the city had to pay out nearly a half-million dollars to settle a lawsuit involving a traffic stop with racial overtones. During our reporting, the police department began tracking race in traffic stops again. After the story ran, the department changed multiple policies for how officers interact with people of color. The department also implemented a body-worn camera program, driven in part by racial profiling concerns.
Explanatory follow-up: http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/01/09/when-police-can-and-cant-pull-you-over/
The impact: http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/01/21/police-to-overhaul-racial-profiling-data-efforts/, http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/01/29/takeways-from-the-racial-profiling-hearing/ and http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/04/22/sdpd-will-have-the-right-to-remain-silent-on-probation-question/
This three-part investigative series examined the town government of Ave Maria. The series revealed that Ave Maria’s developers, including the founder of Domino’s Pizza, wrote and lobbied for a state law that allowed them to control the government forever. The developers’ power, which had never been reported previously, so departed from prior Florida development law that it might be unconstitutional. The series took more than a year to report and write and included five substantial stories and numerous sidebars, graphics and videos. The series won first place in the 2009 Florida Press Club awards in government reporting and second place in in-depth reporting, first place in the 2010 Florida State News Editors awards in multimedia reporting and was a finalist for Governing magazine’s 2010 annual award for outstanding journalistic coverage of state and local government.