San Bernardino Police Hold Sister Hostage, Threaten Children in Attempt to Coerce Burglar

SAN BERNARDINO – Wylena Andrews landed in jail, she says, because police wanted her brother for burglarizing a sergeant’s house.

When they couldn’t find him, they took Andrews as a bargaining chip and threatened to haul her siblings off to Child Protective Services unless her brother turned himself in.

“I kept saying I hadn’t done anything, but they put me in the cell and that’s where I stayed,” Andrews, 30, recalled of the day San Bernardino Police Department officers charged into her family’s Fontana home in 2006. “I fell asleep crying. I was just devastated. They basically played me and acted like it was all a big joke.”

Andrews claims that in holding her against her will without probable cause, police violated her civil rights. She blames San Bernardino police Sgt. Brad Lawrence, whose tumultuous career has landed him in the middle of several internal and criminal investigations over the years.

See also:

San Bernardino Police Sgt. Bradley Lawrence

Investigation into “on ice” allegations against San Bernardino police sergeant reopened

Criminologist William H. Schneid, who was hired by San Bernardino Police Chief Keith Kilmer to investigate allegations of misconduct in the department, confirmed Andrews’ case was part of his probe but declined to comment on his findings.

Sources close to the investigation say a portion of the findings have been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for consideration of criminal charges.

In an e-mail, Kilmer also declined to discuss specifics of the investigation.

“First, it may impact the process by our department or any other agency that may be involved or become involved,” Kilmer wrote. “Secondly, internal personnel information cannot be discussed outside of a court ordered process.”

Lawrence was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 4.

Almost immediately after taking over the department in June, Kilmer hired Schneid to review an Internal Affairs probe into past allegations that Lawrence and his former narcotics team illegally detained people without probable cause, a practice commonly known as keeping someone “on ice.”

That investigation uncovered claims that money went missing from a department fund used to pay informants and buy drugs for undercover operations. Lawrence, who at that time supervised a narcotics team, is being investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for misappropriation of funds, sources say.

Reached by phone, Lawrence said he was not told why he was put on leave and said he doesn’t remember Andrews.

He declined to comment further.

He also declined to have his attorney speak on his behalf.

Lawrence has worked as a patrol sergeant since March, when he returned to duty after a seven-month leave that ended when former Chief Michael Billdt declared past “on ice” allegations to be unfounded.

It is unclear whether Andrews’ ordeal was included in investigations handled by Billdt’s administration.

Andrews’ mother, Minerva Santana, filed a complaint after San Bernardino police took Andrews from her home Jan. 18, 2006. The family says investigators never followed up on the complaint or interviewed them until recently, when Schneid took their statements.

“This was swept under the table,” Andrews said. “Cops act like they can uproot people and do what they want. That’s wrong. They’re supposed to be protecting us, not incriminating us.”

Andrews has served time for burglary, forgery, theft and possession of narcotics.

But her past, Andrews says, does not give law enforcement the right to violate her civil rights and essentially hold her hostage because of a case involving her brother, Wiley Andrews.

Police wanted to question Wiley Andrews, 29, about the burglary of a sergeant’s San Bernardino home on Jan. 17, 2006. His fingerprint was reportedly found on a doorknob inside the sergeant’s house.

Wiley Andrews was on probation after being convicted of receiving stolen property, which enabled police to quickly identify him in their system.

Police couldn’t find an address for Wiley Andrews so they decided to go speak to Santana, who at the time was letting both Wylena and Wiley live in her Fontana condominium.

A boy, 14, and girl, 11, were the only ones home when Lawrence and his narcotics team arrived. The family claims they forced their way into the house and kept their hands on their guns while yelling for Wiley Andrews to come out.

An officer then called Santana and allegedly told her that she needed to come home immediately or they would call Child Protective Services. Since Santana could not leave work on such short notice, she asked Wylena Andrews to meet with the officers.

Wylena Andrews did not know where her brother was, but Lawrence eventually tracked him down on his cell phone.

“They said, `We’ve got your mom, we’ve got your sister and we’re taking them to jail,” Wiley Andrews said in an interview. “It was basically a deal with me that they’d let my family go if I turned myself in.”

Wiley Andrews told police he was in Las Vegas and would turn himself in the next morning.

Lawrence allegedly ordered Wylena Andrews to be taken to the city’s jail for a parole violation. Her parole agent would later tell authorities that she had not violated her parole and police never contacted him about Wylena Andrews, sources say.

Wylena Andrews spent nearly 24 hours in the Police Department’s jail cell. She was taken out only once to be grilled about her brother’s whereabouts.

When Wiley Andrews arrived at the station the following evening, his sister was immediately released.

Wylena Andrews was never charged with a parole violation. Her brother pleaded guilty to the burglary, though he says he did so only for his family’s safety.

Internal Affairs detectives interviewed the family last week and showed them several photographs, asking them to identify any officers they remembered.

Wylena Andrews says she remembers Lawrence’s face “like it was yesterday” but did not see him in the line-up of photographs.

She has not retained an attorney and said she only wants justice “so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

History of controversy:

Brad Lawrence joined the San Bernardino Police Department in 1984.

– In 1989, a school officer reported that Lawrence had threatened to tie an uncooperative suspect to the trunk of his car during a field interrogation. Lawrence was charged by the District Attorney’s Office and fired but was rehired after the trial ended with a hung jury.

– On July 2, 2008, Sgt. Michael Desrochers accused Lawrence of illegally detaining two men driving in a car.

– In August 2008, another officer lodged a complaint against Lawrence for allegedly overstepping the boundaries of a search warrant while raiding a San Bernardino motel.

– On Sept. 19, 2008, a booking log shows that a man named Greg Parker was “on ice” in the police jail. Parker’s attorney claims Lawrence kidnapped his client and later searched his home without a search warrant.

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