Video footage from seven security cameras positioned inside Arroyo Grande City Hall shows the city manager and a subordinate inside the building for more than an hour before police arrived on a welfare check the night of July 3.
The footage, obtained by The Tribune under a California Public Records Act request, shows police officers knocking on the front door of City Hall and shining their flashlights into windows late that evening.
After a police commander arrived with a key, officers were able to enter City Hall, where they located City Manager Steve Adams and Community Development Director Teresa McClish. The video shows officers leaving shortly after they entered the building, and it shows Adams and McClish leaving as well.
But anyone hoping that the video footage from Arroyo Grande City Hall would help clear up questions about what happened is out of luck.
The July 3 incident has dominated public debate in Arroyo Grande for more than a month as many residents have accused the City Council of not thoroughly investigating whether Adams and McClish violated any city policies when they were inside the building. Some have worried that the city has withheld pertinent video footage.
There are eight cameras inside and around City Hall — but no cameras are positioned in hallways or individual offices.
Video footage is only missing from camera six, which is on the back deck of the building, police Chief Steve Annibali said.
“God knows how long it hasn’t been working because it was exposed to the outside weather,” he said.
Also, the time stamp on the City Hall videos appears to be about 40 minutes ahead of the actual time the events occurred.
The cameras show the exterior of City Hall near the front entrance; the lobby area, including a front conference and lunchroom; a view of bushes from the back deck; and the room where computer servers are stored.
But the cameras do not show the hallway leading to Adams’ office, nor do they show the interior of his office.
The system was put in place to provide security for the front lobby area of City Hall, Annibali said.
Viewers will not be able to see Adams and McClish inside Adams’ office, where they said they were drinking tea and waiting to ensure they were safe to drive home after having some wine at local restaurants.
Viewers also won’t see Adams’ conversation with police officers in the hallway.
The Tribune also obtained several hours of footage from police security cameras positioned at East Branch and Mason streets.
It shows Adams and McClish walking from Robert’s Restaurant toward other restaurants in the Village, and it shows them returning separately to City Hall.
McClish first returns to City Hall about 9:40 p.m. (this is actual time, adjusting for the 40-minute discrepancy), leaves and walks to her car, then walks back into the building with Adams about 10 minutes later.
From about 9:55 p.m. to 10:02 p.m., Adams and McClish are inside the front conference/lunch room. They emerge carrying what appears to be cups and head toward another part of the building.
McClish’s husband called police a little after 11 p.m., worried because she hadn’t arrived home after attending an evening event in the Village.
Several city police officers went to City Hall in search of McClish and found her with Adams in his office. About 30 minutes elapse from the time the first officer arrives a few minutes after 11:07 p.m. to the time officers are able to enter the building, according to the video footage.
As officers leave the building, Adams can be seen following them into the front office area, then turning and walking away. He and McClish both drive away from City Hall separately a few minutes later.
In a statement written after the incident, several officers described Adams as looking disheveled with his shirt untucked, and one officer said McClish initially hid behind a door, holding a shirt or some article of clothing in front of her.
Throughout the video footage, including the surveillance videos on East Branch Street in the early evening before dark, Adams is wearing an untucked shirt.
Since the incident, several requests have been made for the video footage from local residents as well as attorney Robert Baumann of the law firm of Adams, Ferrone & Ferrone, which represents the Arroyo Grande Police Officers Association. An attorney from the firm could not be reached for comment.
“Originally, the request was to retain all copies to make sure they didn’t disappear,” police union President Shawn Cosgrove said Friday. He said he has not seen the video footage.
The police union recently took votes of no confidence in Adams and Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara. A letter from the union sent to the City Council on Sept. 17 also requests that city hard drives, computers, data storage services, duplicate copies or any other devices containing potential video or audio footage of the incident in question be preserved.