My name is Kathy Atkins. . I am Joshua Klaver’s Mother. .25 years ago my son died by hanging when he was 10 years old after years of abuse at the hands of his father, Santa Clara County, California Sheriff Deputy KW Klaver. I fully understand the self imposed limits the legal system gives itself …I have been beat down by the system one two many times to think that anything shall be done but fearful silence is not something I’m willing to let control me any longer
I stepped into the legal system 29 years ago going in and out of a family court that refused to do their job trying to save my Son from being abused by his father, the family court, Sheriff Department and CPS all knew about the abuse and did nothing… the Sheriff Department in Gilroy, California choose to cover one of their own over the safety of my Son including Sergeant Egge. And my issues with the System continue to this day.
When I was told about the abuse in 1984 and the Sheriff Department was notified by me the same day,Joshua was 6 years old. There were many acts of violence witnessed by others that I reported to the Gilroy, CA Sheriff Department and CPS, KW’s ex wife, who left the home because of violence against her saw many abuses against Joshua by his father, Josh loved her dearly and was heartbroken when she left . The Sheriff Department would not even speak with her, no action was taken…
This is when we stepped into the court system, they refused to do their job for 4 years, The outcome of our first Court case, Judge James Stewart of the Santa Clara County Family Court’s decision was the findings of abuse was true, that Joshua’s father could not be alone with Josh, all visitation had to be monitored by a court appointed watcher, not even 2 weeks after this decision the court reversed the court order, my Attorney was contacted by the courts and was told that I had to start sending Joshua out to his father’s unsupervised, this was done without a court hearing, I did not receive any documents, it was done quietly in a phone call notification.
Do you know what happens when no action is taken over and over again, it gives a Deputy the go ahead to continue doing what he wants, Departments and Courts Systems across our Country create monsters out of Police Officers by letting them slide on domestic violence, they allow them to take the power they have on the streets into their homes and the results come in nightmares and mine came in 1989 when my Son after years of abuse died at the age of 10 by hanging in a barn used for slaughtering livestock and wild game, he could no longer take the fear and pain he was forced to live with, I was refused a investigation by the Sheriff Department at the time of his death and was notified of this decision by Sergeant Egge of the Gilroy,California Office.
In Nov of 1990 22 months after Joshua’s death the Sheriff Department called me, they told me they were reopening the case, came to my home and filled my head with thoughts of their concern that his father had more to do with Joshua’s death then 1st thought, they asked me if I knew anything about a confrontation that happened in the car between Josh and his father after he took him from my home just before he died ,they would not tell us why they asked..I’m sorry we can’t share that information with you at this time..they asked me if Joshua had bruises on his back and scrapped up knee’s before his father took him from my home, my answer was no he did not have those marks on him. .more information on this contact with the Sheriff Department is included in a post on this page.
I live with severe depression, PTSD has control my life, I have been hospitalized many times because of the need I had to be with Joshua more than it was healthy for me. I cry everyday for Joshua, for his pain, for my pain. My heart will never heal, I crave Justice but I know it’s not mine to have but I still wish to share my story, to share Joshua’s story. I am pulled to expose the actions of the Santa Clara County Sheriff Department and Sheriff Laurie Smith and I will continue to do as I also reach out to other families of Police Violence
7 years ago I found The Klaver Trilogy on line ( information on this article is below ) I knew the answers to all my questions of what happened with in the Sheriff Department after Joshua died could be found starting there. I contacted Sheriff Laurie Smith, I received no response. I then contacted the Santa Clara County DA’s Office, this is when I found out Joshua’s file was misplaced / gone. I then contacted the Attorney General’s Office, they had me file with the Santa Clara County Grand Jury, wait for a response and re approach the Sheriff Department and Sheriff Laurie Smith and the DA’s Office again before they would even talk with me. They forced me to bang on them for a very long time before the California Attorney Generals Office forced Sheriff Laurie Smith to meet with me. In this meeting Sheriff Smith told me that it was the Child Death Review Board that pushed my son’s death out for review 22 months after his death in November of 1990
The Child Death Review Board pushes a child’s death out for review any time there are any court records of abuse attached to the child, they want to know if the abuse was still happening up to the time of death, they want information on how the responding police agency conducted themselves in gathering information on the death.They want time of death information and the Sheriff Department had nothing to turn over to them. The Dept then sent crime scene employees out to the barn where my son died for the 1st time 22 months after his death and relied on Joshua’s father, his abuser for crime scene information to take photos and measurements then Sheriff Laurie Smith sent Homicide Deputies to my home for information from me and turned over only what they wanted to the review board as information gathered at the time of death.
At this meeting was Sheriff Smith, Asst S John Hirokawa and Joyce Blair from the Attorney Generals Office , Sheriff Smith decided at this time to share private information from KW’s deputy file, work related and private family issues and share she did, Sheriff Smith stepped into my fear zone with purpose by telling me about KW’s violent past at his home after Josh died, this is a Sheriff dept that took many domestic violence calls with at times threats of firearm use against horses on the property with children in the home(S. Smith words) and did nothing, Sheriff Smith knew the man that he was and let year after year of calls come in and they took no action and left his wife unaided. Sheriff.Smith told us the depts plan at the time was waiting on his wife to have enough of his shit and leave him so she would turn on him over some Workman comp thing…… it was like Sheriff Smith was offering me this information to show me how awful their lives have been all these years since Joshua’s death …all done with a smile on her face, like she was sharing a girl secret with me…something that would make me feel better….Sheriff Smith even made a note to self at this meeting…to call the Sheriff Dept where his father moved to check if any other domestic violence calls had been made from their home….not to check on the safety of a fellow officer, a fellow women…. . Sheriff Smith wanted to bust him for a workman’s comp issue with in the Department, She made it very clear of her dislike for Joshua’s father, Deputy KW Klaver..
I believe Sheriff Smith was not only fully aware of what was happening in 1990, she was in charge, do you think some lower level deputy signed off on setting that all up…crime scene techs…homicide deputies coming to my home, lying to me all to get enough info to fill out a report. DA’s Office calling them…it went up up and when they had this information they still had legal time at this 2 year mark, they could of charge KW with a crime, Joshua wrote in a school diary that he had thoughts about hanging himself in the barn at his fathers, KW took him from my home sent him out into the barn in a extremely heighten state of fear where he had ropes with noose knots used in his butchering business and for other livestock, he would not lock them up, he put a loaded gun in Joshua’s hands and the Sheriff Department and DA’s Office did nothing….we were in the child abuse and other crimes window for charges…nothing.. Sheriff Smith was aware as stated in the article written by Police Legal Defense(Klaver Trilogy) when I first found the trilogy on line and read how the subject of the investigation into Joshua’s death was being worded …that while I was still bleeding from their visit to my home the Sheriff Department and Joshua’s father were making deals in a workman’s comp court concerning the investigation into my Son’s Death. ..it was like getting my belly sliced open stem to stern. . Look at it this way The Klaver Trilogy is like a ping on a cel phone tower, it puts Sheriff Gillingham & Sheriff Laurie Smith smack in the middle of my Hell, I’m not sure but would the Legal Department for Law Enforcement print something about the Sheriff that was not true and feel comfy with it just to make the article look better as Sheriff Laurie.Smith claimed.??….
This is the Klaver Trilogy that I mentioned. . .I found this article on line written by PORAC, Legal Defense Fund for Police Officer’s, it was named Klaver Trilogy by Joshua’s father not me, below I have the article broken into two parts. . .In Part 1 the investigation they are writing about is Joshua’s death, When Joshua’s case was reopened in November 1990, 22 months after his death the Sheriff Dept pulled his father off the streets. . . . KW took the Dept into workman’s comp court because they made him use up all his sick and vacation time while the Sheriff’s Department decided how to hide their actions from the Child Death Review Board. . . . . .Part 2 of the Klaver Trilogy shows how Sheriff Laurie Smith. . starting in Part 1 when she was Under Sheriff in November 1990 dogged his career with-in the Sheriff Dept until he retired many years after Joshua’s death. Also posted below you will find the email sent to me from the Santa Clara County DA’s Office 20 years after Joshua’s death about the refusal to investigate by the Sheriff Department when Josh died and the missing file
Legal Defense Fund > News Articles > The Klaver Trilogy
The PORAC Legal Defense Fund is the nation’s largest and most successful Legal Defense Fund; run by and for peace officers. The Fund is an ERISA Trust that provides legal service benefits for public safety personnel. The Fund has been in existence since 1974 and currently has more than 99,000 members.
Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2001 at 12:00 pm.
Deputy K. W. Klaver began his unblemished career with the Santa Clara County Sheriffs’ Department on July 4, 1983. He had experienced several run-ins with the present sheriff, Laurie Smith, on several occasions, dating back to 1990, when now Sheriff Smith was the assistant sheriff. The first difficulty was when Klaver received an evening telephone call from his captain, telling him to report from his assignment in the Patrol Division to the Courts Division the next day without reason or explanation. There was, apparently, some investigation which had been launched, but Klaver’s captain advised Klaver that he could not talk to him about the investigation and that the orders had come from above. This failure to follow procedure, and specifically the failure to advise Klaver of the nature and/or extent of the investigation resulted in his going out on stress disability and filing an action with the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board alleging a punitive transfer. The WCAB came down firmly on the side of Klaver, and in its opinion, specifically found that there was “[N]o explanation whatsoever for this investigation…offered by defendant” (Santa Clara County Sheriffs’ Office) and that the sheriffs’ office “…did not deny that it failed to follow established procedures” in this transfer. Klaver was off from work on stress disability from November 1990 to April 3, 1991, and forced, by the department, to use up all of his vacation and sick leave, rather than being put on paid administrative leave.
Even before Klaver returned to work, he was allowed to bid his usual south county patrol beat for which his seniority made his transfer to that beat automatic. However, on the transfer date, he was denied transfer to that beat and assigned to a distant location. Klaver filed a grievance with then Sheriff Gillingham, since he understood that the refusal to allow him to return to his normal beat was based on direct actions by then Assistant Sheriff Laurie Smith. Based on Klaver’s grievance, Sheriff Gillingham overruled Smith, and allowed Klaver to resume work at his normal south county beat.
Klaver, who is an expert in dispatching hazardous wild game, was called substantially off his beat in August 1995 to dispatch a mountain lion who had been terrorizing a local community. Klaver killed the mountain lion, and the investigation of the propriety of this shooting within the next 24 hours completely cleared him of any misconduct. Approximately two weeks later, Klaver was advised that there was a “major investigation” regarding this incident and was told that it was started by “…somebody above the captain level.” At that time, there were only two people above that level, one of who was then Assistant Sheriff Smith. This investigation was held over Klaver’s head for five months before it was again deemed to be a justified action on his part.
Finally, in approximately August 1997, the Klaver Trilogy began. Having an unblemished record as a deputy sheriff and having informally been appointed lead deputy on many shifts in patrol, Klaver applied for a field training officer position. When called, off-duty, and told that the oral exam for the FTO position was scheduled for the next day, Klaver advised that he had commitments the next two days (both of which he was off-duty) and needed to reschedule his oral examination. He was advised by the clerk to talk to the sergeant in charge of Personnel and Training, and after having left numerous messages with that sergeant, without response, Klaver became aware of the fact that the oral examination had taken place, and that he was never given an opportunity to participate. He then began the process of complaining about his treatment, and the department’s failure to offer any accommodation to him for this examination. As soon as Klaver began complaining up the chain of command, he was advised that he was being transferred from the Patrol Division to the Courts Division, thereby making him ineligible to even take the FTO exam. The stress of the department’s failure to acknowledge Klaver’s right and opportunity to take the FTO oral exam, coupled with its transfer of Klaver to the Courts Division, and refusal to allow him to transfer from the San Jose Courts Division to the South County Courts Division (where he lived), thus creating serious child care issues for his family, caused Klaver to go off work due to cumulative stress on April 15, 1998. By November 1999, Klaver’s treating psychologist, Dr. Peter Van Oot, sent a report to Personnel and Training, advising that Klaver was capable of immediately returning to work. Unlike every action in the past, the department refused to return Klaver to work based on the recommendation of his treating psychologist and insisted on having him examined by “their own” psychiatrist. They also refused to allow Klaver to return to paid administrative status and, in fact, he was advised by the sergeant in charge of Personnel and Training that he would remain “in limbo.” Thus began the three separate grievances filed by Klaver.
Grievance No. 1 related to the sheriff’s department’s (1) failure to grant Klaver an FTO oral interview, (2) his transfer to the Courts Division from Patrol Division, in violation of the department’s transfer policy, and (3) the department’s failure to transfer Klaver from the San Jose courts to south county courts as punitive action. At the last minute, prior to the start of Klaver’s arbitration in this matter before Arbitrator Bonnie G. Bogue, the Santa Clara County Labor Relations Department objected, on the date of the arbitration, to the arbitrability of two of the three grievances filed by Klaver. This resulted in a substantial delay and an additional hearing on the issue of arbitrability alone. On June 15, 2000, arbitrator Bogue ruled that these two matters were arbitrable, and scheduled hearing on all three grievance issues. The arbitration, which was held on July 28, 2000, resulted in an order by Bogue on November 21, 2000, which read in pertinent part as follows:
“Deputy Klaver was denied the opportunity to reschedule an FTO oral examination in violation of the MOU. He is to be granted an oral examination immediately…”
After further disagreement between the Labor Relations Department and counsel for Klaver, LDF panel attorney William R. Rapoport, of San Mateo, California, arbitrator Bogue, at the request of Rapoport, and over the objections of the Labor Relations Department, modified her decision and ordered an FTO oral exam for Klaver within 60 days after the date on which he has returned to his duties as a patrol deputy, and has been in those duties for 90 days.
Grievance No. 2 began in mid-November 1999, when the sheriffs’ department refused to allow Klaver to come back to work and refused to put him back on paid status, thereby keeping him “in limbo.” Klaver’s grievance resulted in an initial refusal by the County of Santa Clara to even allow Klaver the opportunity for an administrative hearing, but eventually, after the threat of litigation over Klaver’s right to such a hearing, agreed to the proceeding regarding his fitness for duty. ( ( This hearing took place over four days in April, May and July 2000, before administrative law judge, the Honorable Jonathan Lew. The department’s witnesses included Lieutenant Ernie Smedlund, Captain Roy Froom, Commander Bernal and Sheriff Laurie Smith, who, during the course of the proceedings, volunteered “…I don’t think in my career with the sheriffs’ office I have known who Deputy Klaver was…” despite their numerous prior negative interactions.) ) The sheriffs’ department took the position that Klaver was (1) not fit for duty, and (2) if he was fit for duty, that duty began as of the date of Judge Lew’s order and did not extend back to the period from November 5, 1999, when Klaver’s psychologist advised the department that Klaver was fit for duty. In addition to himself, Klaver presented Dr. Peter Van Oot and Dr. Robert Flint (Concord, California) as witnesses on his behalf. Klaver, through his counsel, argued that he was not only presently fit for duty, but also was fit for duty as of November 5, 1999, and should be entitled to complete back pay and benefits as of that time. On October 10, 2000, Judge Lew ruled in favor of both Klaver’s positions, i.e., (1) he was presently fit for duty, and (2) that from the date of November 5, 1999, to the present, Klaver was also fit for duty. Without further argument on that point, the County of Santa Clara adopted the Proposed Decision of Judge Lew on November 27, 2000, and Klaver returned to work on December 26, 2000.
Klaver’s return to work did not, however, convince the county that he should be entitled to back pay and benefits for the time from November 5, 1999, to his return to work on December 26, 2000, thereby resulting in Grievance No. 3.
Grievance No. 3 was filed to (1) compel the department to pay Klaver from November 5, 1999, forward, and (2) to find that the refusal of the department to return him to work as of November 5, 1999, was arbitrary and capricious. That matter proceeded to the first of two days of arbitration before arbitrator Alexander Cohen. The second session for the arbitration of this matter was scheduled to begin on March 21, 2001, but at the end of February 2001, the county agreed to reimburse Klaver for complete back pay and benefits in his position of deputy sheriff, effective November 12, 1999. At the present time, Klaver has been reimbursed for all back pay and benefits with the exception of medical reimbursement and retirement benefits which are presently being negotiated.
——- Original Message ——–
Subject: KW Klaver
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2009 08:39:49 -0800
From: Dave Tomkins <DTomkins@da.sccgov.org>
Dear Ms. Adkins,
It has been awhile since we last spoke. I know that you were in touch with the Attorney General’s Office as I discussed the case with them at the time. I still am unable to find our file that was last seen in the possession of my predecessor. However, I spoke to Mr. Sanderson and he still recalls some of the facts and issues in the case. We discussed some areas that could be explored. I would like to look into these areas and will contact you at some point. There are no guarantees as you are aware of the problems with the initial investigation.
Assistant District Attorney
70 West Hedding Street West Wing
San Jose, CA 95110
Phone: (408) 792-2792
Fax: (408) 299-8440