ALBANY, Calif. (Bay City News Service) — Albany’s police chief is defending the way his department handled its investigation into a teacher who was arrested on suspicion of molestation but committed suicide before he was charged with a crime.
In a statement he issued on Oct. 4, Police Chief Mike McQuiston said, “James Izumizaki’s arrest and subsequent suicide understandably upset many in our small community. It’s clear that people are hurt and confused by this tragic turn of events.”
Izumizaki, 28, a sixth-grade teacher at Albany Middle School, was arrested at his Albany home on Sept. 26 on suspicion of performing lewd acts with a child under the age of 14. He posted bail the following day and was released.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office was reviewing the case and his arraignment tentatively was set for Oct. 24, but he hadn’t been charged as of the morning of Oct. 1 when he was found dead in his car on Via Alamitos in San Leandro.
A makeshift memorial for Izumizaki was set up at Albany Middle School after his death and some students and parents criticized Albany police for the way they investigated the case.
But McQuiston said in his statement that a judge approved a probable cause warrant enabling police to search Izumizaki’s home, which provided evidence in the case.
He said, “This step provided judicial scrutiny of the evidence. This independent, third-party review by a magistrate uninvolved with the investigation is a safeguard against police abuse of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment.”
McQuiston’s statement also indicates that there were multiple victims, although it doesn’t specify how many.
He said, “The reported victims in this matter are minors” and he wants to thank “those victims and witnesses who have shown great courage and character by coming forward.”
McQuiston said the Albany police investigation “continues today and will continue until all known leads are exhausted” despite Izumaki’s death.
He also said police will share with the school district any information they share during their investigation if it “might help our school district colleagues better protect their students.”
McQuiston said he released the statement “because I believe in transparent and responsive policing.”