Police defend homeless arrest

October 20, 2012

Richard Kirenga

The San Luis Obispo Police Department is defending its officers following allegations they ruffed up of a homeless man during an arrest on Thursday.

At the end of a poorly made video of the arrest that went viral, an officer said Richard Kirenga, 33, was not acting aggressively when police arrived and threw him to the ground. The officer said Kirenga’s prior history of aggressive behavior prompted their actions.

In a Friday press release, police say Kirenga did not respond when asked to take his hands out of his pockets, and when they tried to pull them out he resisted. Police said they found two rocks and a corkscrew in Kirenga’s pockets.

On Tuesday, Kirenga was barred from the shelter for 150 days for allegedly acting aggressively. Kirenga, who witnessed the murder and rape of family members in Africa, suffers from mental illness.

Kirenga showed up at the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter on Thursday hoping for a meal and a place to sleep. A shelter employee called police and reported Kirenga for trespassing.

Kirenga’s arrest comes at a time numerous members of the homeless community contend police harassment at the behest of homeless services directors and the city council has become abusive.

Police booked Kirenga into San Luis Obispo County Jail on charges of trespassing, resisting arrest and for two outstanding warrants. His $10,000 bail was posted and he has been released.




  1. gypsycelt says:

    What a surprise. SLO police defend throwing a peaceful, homeless man to the ground. It took six police cruisers to respond to a non-threatening situation? Hold the mayor and city councilmembers accountable for this! They are the ones who caused the tension in the city. Check out http://www.mattforslo.com and vote for Matt Strzepek. He is the only candidate who understands what is going on and knows how to heal this community. Remember, the cops are acting abusively because the mayor and city councilmembers are still telling them to try to scare homeless people out of SLO.

    (-2) 34 Total Votes - 16 up - 18 down
    • r0y says:

      …and DON FOR MAYOR!

      (-1) 27 Total Votes - 13 up - 14 down
    • Stunned says:

      Actually you’re wrong…..it didn’t take 6 to cuff and stuff this man. I feel that the first two that responded showed considerable restraint by not taking him into custody WITH what would been a nice little street scuffle resulting in considerable injury to him.

      By surrounding him with probably 1,200 lbs of beef he made the decision not to fight because I’m sure he’s suffered the wrath of resistance. For that reason alone it’s good that the below average video supports what I’m saying.

      (-17) 21 Total Votes - 2 up - 19 down
  2. centralcoastcoyote says:

    put him back on a boat to his homeland, what is a mentally ill african man doing here!!!! nothing good will come from him.

    (-5) 39 Total Votes - 17 up - 22 down
    • RU4Real says:

      How the hell did this guy get all the way from Africa to San Luis Obispo?? I can barely afford to travel from Morro Bay to SLO! It appears as though a “couple local attorneys” (who have been profiting from “representing” the homeless) are behind this latest rash of negative accusations against the Police Department…For the most part, I feel SLO PD are doing a good job, in fact, I’d like to see MORE police presence. Send all the transients/derelicts back to wherever they came from…Give them a ONE WAY ticket out of town. SLO needs to be cleaned up. Keep up the good work SLO PD!

      (5) 45 Total Votes - 25 up - 20 down
    • Mr. Holly says:

      I wonder if he is a relative of Obama?

      (-6) 52 Total Votes - 23 up - 29 down
      • Ted Slanders says:


        With such disparaging comments that you continually make within this forum, we should put you on a boat and set it adrift, therefore, ridding this forum of such distaste and child like banter.

        (-11) 35 Total Votes - 12 up - 23 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      How do you know?

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • Bert says:

        Wow. So much hate from the above comments sans Ted’s. Put him back on the boat? Same should be said for you Racist Coyote.

        (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
  3. SLOTECH90 says:

    I heartily agree with those of you who realize both the mental health and justice systems are broken to the point of being beyond repair. Bemoaning this fact does not, however solve this fellow;s problem. I know absolutely nothing about him but I do know a great deal about mental illness and treatment. Does he
    have a case manager at community mental health? If not he needs one. Is he on meds? If not, he should be evaluated? Is he med compliant? If not, there are fairly simple behavioral programs that are effective. Apparently he doesn’t have much structure in his life. That’s bad for people in general and the mentally ill especially.Sheltered work shop?, day treatment? have these options been explores. Conservatorship, CONREP? The police ineptitude in dealing with the mentally ill is an old problem and a wide spread one in this nation. I know for a fact there is grant money available for innovative programs in this area. Perhaps a Psych Tech or Psych R.N. as police staff? Get creative!! Richard, left untreated, doesn’t have much time left!

    (-10) 28 Total Votes - 9 up - 19 down
    • slojustice says:

      Yeah, let’s get this gentlemen in our local system. How about some disability money, some section 8 housing, full medical coverage. Hopefully he will meet some fellow homeless female and get her pregnant. Then we can continue the cycle by raising his poor children. Let’s roll out the red carpet for all of these folks and see how our city will change in five years. I know of other cities in California who are sending people our way, Santa Cruz gives people one way tickets to a destination of their choice. And often they pick here.

      (21) 41 Total Votes - 31 up - 10 down
    • Mr. Holly says:

      Your address please so that we can send you the bill.

      (0) 18 Total Votes - 9 up - 9 down
  4. slojustice says:

    From my experience alot of these “homeless” are drug addicts or former drug abusers and professional derelicts. These that I describe totally outnumber the true individuals who are mentally ill. They know the “system” and how to exploit it. And now it seems we have a few cockroach attorneys willing to exploit the system like they are trained to do. I salute the police officers who are doing their job keeping San Luis Obispo and nice and safe place to live. And no, I am not a cop.

    (16) 48 Total Votes - 32 up - 16 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      If your experience tells you that the homeless are “drug addicts or former drug abusers and professional derelicts,” then that speaks to the quality of people you hang around with in general, and does NOT speak to the quality of the homeless population.


      Homeless Students Top 1 Million, U.S. Says, Leaving Advocates “Horrified”
      Published: June 28, 2012


      Number of Homeless Families Climbing Due To Recession
      Published: January 8, 2009


      “Number of Homeless Families Doubles in 3 Years”
      Published: February 23, 2012


      (-18) 36 Total Votes - 9 up - 27 down
      • RU4Real says:

        Mary, have YOU been to downtown SLO lately? Based on your comments, I seriously doubt it!

        (17) 33 Total Votes - 25 up - 8 down
  5. givemeabreak says:

    call the jail and find out which bail bondsman posted it. It’s not Rocket Science. No body gave the jail 10 grand,,,,,,,That is not how bail bondsman work, it is 10 percent. ie; a thousand bucks. Many of these people collect SSI…….it is not a lot of $$$ but hey if you are living on the streets and have no bills to pay, it all adds up! Just a shame that bottom line the guy gets no help but another washing including a spin dry with fabric softer at the expense of our broken system, It is called the circle Jerk. .

    (-10) 16 Total Votes - 3 up - 13 down
  6. leatherpink says:

    Looks like homeless attorney Steward Jenkins and Saro Rizzo of Cafe Roma, probably posted bail but don’t have a clue what happened at the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter as aggressive behavior to the staff using stones as a weapon. Good luck trying to sue Steward as the San Luis Obispo residents and business owners know who’s screwing the town, it’s Steward Jenkins for his absurd lawsuits on bailing himself out on excessive legal fees from a business plan to earn income out of the San Luis Obispo city funds by I will sue you threats to City officials, everybody I know will not go to Cafe Roma restaurant or seek any legal services from Steward Jenkins or Saro Rizzo.
    For the homeless derelicts community to claim harassment from filming out of an outdated High-8 generation camcorder that you can see hardly anything from as the woman filming appears to have sounded drunk while capturing the event out of her living vehicle on McMillan; claimed he didn’t do anything but failed to witness the events at the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter as on the report says.

    What the police said are clearly within California Penal code to arrest and prosecute. I think they will throw the case out though if Richard or his public defender can tell the judge, he in a mess and the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter has probably turned him into a criminal because of the derelicts there probably made him do things he never did before. Maybe, as he seems like an ok person and probably did hear as much trash in America on McMillan than in Africa.

    Do I feel sorry for the guy? Sure I do, why? If Richard didn’t hang around these homeless derelicts at the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter and Prado Center and would of been around normal people instead, he may not have been so screwed up than seeing the same uneducated people where he sheltered at. Richard would hang around Meadow Park every day, what good is that? Where did he learn that from? From the other bums who stay at the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter every day, he has adapted to the same environment, do nothing after you leave the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter every morning by not looking for a job but hanging out from 7am to 5pm downtown or Meadow Park or Mitchell Park and back to the 47% dole shelter like some sorted of drug. If anybody has ever been to the Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter, you hear nothing but people swearing at each other, people cussing out loud, spitting, smoking cigarettes and etc, a bad place to stay, no matter how cold or hungry you are, this place is the last place you want to be in San Luis Obispo. The food is unhealthy and practically all GMO stuff like your friendly Wal-Mart sells, pure garage.

    What Richard needs is to detox by staying away from these derelicts on McMillan street and Prado road. If he would he might be a normal person afterwards by talking to normal people and look at life differently than the uneducated people at Maxine Lewis Homeless Shelter. If in case you ever driveby McMillan street, roll down your window and hear all the uneducated slang how people talk who live in their vehicles, no wonder why nobody wants to hire them, they talk trash and live in it. Leave this place Richard, these people are trouble.

    If Richard wants a new beginning I would be happy to give the guy a few thousand dollars, brand new clothes and leads to a job that he may enjoy. The problem is these homeless derelicts are making trouble for him and when one hangs around trouble, he is troubled. So start a new beginning and leave that trashy shelter on Orcutt Road.

    (-2) 62 Total Votes - 30 up - 32 down
    • ReelView says:

      Drunk huh? Guess you would know about drunk leatherpink! Think you better pull your pink tights up!!!

      (2) 44 Total Votes - 23 up - 21 down
    • ReelView says:

      oh yeah, guess what else? I have just learned that the videographer may not be homeless afterall! But there you go again as usual leatherpink, maybe you need a NEW pair of pink tights!!!!

      (-2) 42 Total Votes - 20 up - 22 down
    • givemeabreak says:

      LEATHER PINK………..Do some research you IDIOT!!!! Please tell me how someone DETOX”s from a serious mental illness? Hanging around “normal people?” Is that all it takes to recover from an array of different illness’s?….Such as Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Borderline etc…….. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but MANY of your “educated” people suffer from serious mental disorders.

      (4) 40 Total Votes - 22 up - 18 down
    • SLOChildrenAtPlay says:

      I manage a business that has been in the same neighborhood as Cafe Roma for many, many years longer than Cafe Roma has existed. The Rizzos fancy themselves as the neighborhood mafia. They want to change the schedules of every surrounding business to better accomodate their lunch and dinner rushes. I’m surprised they haven’t gone to Amtrak, and demand that the trains times be changed so as to not interfere with their customer parking. You so much as say “boo” to any member of the family, and they will unleash every legal, political, and personal attack against you and your business until you recognize and respect the almighty Rizzos and Cafe Roma. I can understand why they have sympathy and compassion for addicts and the mentally ill. So much of it rns in their extended family.

      (1) 41 Total Votes - 21 up - 20 down
      • SLOBIRD says:

        Suggestion: Get a bunch of Cafe Roma business cards, turn them over, print A FREE MEAL AWAITS YOU AT CAFE ROMA, Signed Jenkins & Rizzo, attorneys at law… and them, hand them out at the shelter. Move them all up to the Railwoad Station, should be fun for everyone!

        (2) 30 Total Votes - 16 up - 14 down
    • Cicero says:

      Mental Illness and substance abuse are serious problems. Leatherpink, you should really sign up for services real soon.

      (17) 29 Total Votes - 23 up - 6 down
    • RU4Real says:

      Well said, Leatherpink! Hanging around with other derelicts (rabble rousers) is of absolutely no benefit to Richard…All he’s doing is learning how to manipulate the system from the other drunks/addicts/transients. Richard needs to return to HIS HOMELAND…

      (0) 34 Total Votes - 17 up - 17 down
      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        Only dictators presume to know what other people “need.”

        (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
  7. givemeabreak says:

    Who cares who posted his bail The fact of the matter is that “bail” is part of our system. Why don’t you go volunteer your services at The homeless shelter, Prado or Mental Health so you can get first hand knowledge of what is really going on in this county and the “system” Mr. RACKET. There are loads of mentally ill people on the street. It is not illegal to be mentally ill. Ever hear of someone that is not competent to stand trial? It’s called a 1370. The jail warehouses these folks on a daily basis, then send them to mental health where they are restored to a nano second of sanity….then sent back to jail and court where they are released, go off their medications, then get back on the merry go round.

    (5) 15 Total Votes - 10 up - 5 down
    • racket says:

      Sounds like you’re much closer to the situation than I am. Got any idea who posted his bail?

      (-5) 17 Total Votes - 6 up - 11 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        Why does that matter?

        If I would have had the money, I would have posted it myself.

        (-10) 28 Total Votes - 9 up - 19 down
  8. racket says:

    Who posted his bail? Will they be responsible for his actions now that he is back on the street?

    (3) 21 Total Votes - 12 up - 9 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      If he is not competent to be on the streets, as judged by the same jail system that allowed the bully-gang cops beat on him THEN jail him, he would not be able to post bail and leave.

      If the bail was sufficient that those who bailed him out had to secure it with property, then if Richard doesn’t show up to his court date, or violates any other condition of the bail agreement, those who posted the bail may have to forfeit the property they used to secure Richard’s bail.

      (-14) 24 Total Votes - 5 up - 19 down
  9. givemeabreak says:

    What I would like to know is what happened to HIPPA laws? I thought ones medical history is suppose to be private? Regardless……Our system is f’d up. Throw a homeless person in jail that CLEARLY needs mental health help…clog up our system, then have the jail send him over to mental health where he can legally only be held so long, then put him back out on the streets to repeat the same cycle. Oh yeah lets not forget to set court dates for the guy so we can clog up the court calenders trying to punish folks that are so ill they do not know what day it is. Oh my god!!!!! He had rocks in his pockets? The cops have rocks in their heads!!

    (-11) 43 Total Votes - 16 up - 27 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Well, they have to give the SLOCity police something they can, and will, do. Can’t expect them to actually fight any REAL crime. No, too risky. Might break a fingernail, and nail salons are SO busy during the lunch hours.

      Much better to let them bully-gang on a mentally ill homeless person–with at least THREE police officers.

      WHY doesn’t SLOCity contract out their police services?

      (-12) 34 Total Votes - 11 up - 23 down

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