Things That Matter

Was It Murder? Video of Police Shooting an Unarmed Latino Man Sparks Debate

A recently-released video of a police shooting in California has renewed debate about what constitutes excessive force by police. The video shows police stopping three men at gunpoint. The men hold their hands up but one man drops his hands for a moment before pulling a hat off his head. When the man reaches for his hat, police officers open fire on the man, killing him and wounding another man.

Watch for yourself (WARNING: Graphic Video):

Credit: Los Angeles Times / YouTube

So what’s the deal? 

In 2013, Ricardo Diaz Zeferino was shot and killed by police in Gardena, California. Gardena Police officers believed Diaz Zeferino and his two friends were possible suspects in the robbery of a bicycle from a nearby CVS pharmacy. During the police stop, 35-year-old Diaz Zeferino was shot by officers who said he did not comply with their commands. He was unarmed. His friend, Eutiquio Mendez, was also wounded in the shooting.

End of story? No. It turns out Diaz Zeferino and his two friends actually reported the stolen bicycle. They were riding around the neighborhood in their bicycles to look for the stolen bike when they were stopped.

Diaz Zeferino’s family sued the city of Gardena, claiming police had violated Diaz Zeferino’s civil rights. The Gardena Police maintained that the shooting was lawful. They pointed out that Diaz Zeferino appeared to reach for his waistband and did not comply with commands. An autopsy of Diaz Zeferino also revealed he had alcohol and methamphetamine in his system. Diaz Zeferino’s family said he was just trying to tell police he was innocent. 

The city of Gardena settled with the family for $4.7 million and the officers were cleared of wrongdoing. A federal judge also ordered dash cam video of the incident to be released.

Credit: Associated Press / YouTube

Diaz Zeferino’s brother Augustin Reynoso, told the L.A. Times the settlement is not enough: “Nothing is sufficient, not even the money. A life is more important than the money.”

Do you believe police used excessive force? Let us know in the comments below.

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva Threatens To Cut Sexual Assault Investigation Unit Because Of Proposed Budget Cuts

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Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva Threatens To Cut Sexual Assault Investigation Unit Because Of Proposed Budget Cuts

Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images

Law enforcement in Los Angeles is facing budget cuts already because demonstrators are keeping up the pressure for police reform. COVID-19 has added pressure to Los Angeles County to make some additional cuts and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva is warning what the cuts mean to the department at large.

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva is warning residents about the impact of the proposed budget cuts.

Sheriff Villanueva issued a statement titled “DEFUNDING THE LASD BUDGET $145.4 M.” In the letter, Sheriff Villanueva warns that the budget cuts will lead to the elimination of the Special Victims Bureau. The bureau is responsible for investigating the physical or sexual abuse of children and women. The sheriff names other departments that will be eliminated in response to the upcoming budget cuts.

“It’s unconscionable,” Sheriff Villanueva told CBS Los Angeles. “These are the major detective units of the entire department. They serve the entire county of Los Angeles. Those four units…are the cream of the crop of investigative units throughout the entire nation, and as the largest county in the nation, I cannot see how we move forward without these four units,” he said.

The sheriff took the time to attack the “Defund the Police” movement.

“The CEO and the Board have embraced the “Defund the Police” movement and are cynically hiding behind accounting maneuvers, knowing well that loss of revenue in sales tax can be made up by equitable distributing more stable revenue streams like property taxes,” reads part of Sheriff Villanueva’s statement. “This is not acceptable and a willful abandonment of the top priorities of local government: keep people safe.”

Sheriff Villanueva is also refusing to enforce orders to close the beaches for the 4th of July weekend in Los Angeles County.

Sheriff Villanueva told the press that his department was not included in talks about the closure so the sheriff’s office will not enforce the order. Los Angeles County is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases as the rest of California deals with the same. The Los Angeles Health Department ordered the beaches, piers, and boardwalks closed for the holiday weekend to fight the sudden spike in cases.

“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said in a statement. “The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19.” 

Sheriff Villanueva’s actions as sheriff are making some Los Angeles County residents wanting him to leave the office.

At the beginning of his term as sheriff, Villanueva rehired a police officer who was fired for domestic violence allegations. The police officer who was rehired set off a legal battle that landed in court with a judge having to decide whether or not to let the police officer stay.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff handed down an injunction ordering rehired police officer Caren Carl Mandoyan to surrender his gun and badge. Additionally, the judge ordered, “Sheriff Alex Villanueva cease to recognize or hold Mandoyan out as a Deputy Sheriff or a County employee.”

READ: Family Of Andres Guardado Are Asking For The Autopsy Report Be Released

Family Of Andres Guardado Are Asking For The Autopsy Report Be Released

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Family Of Andres Guardado Are Asking For The Autopsy Report Be Released

David McNew / Getty Images

Update: On June 18, Andrés Guardado was shot and killed by officers of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The 18-year-old was working as a security guard at an auto mechanic shop when he was killed. Two weeks later, the family is demanding the autopsy report.

It’s been two weeks since Andrés Guardado was killed by LASD officers and the autopsy still hasn’t been released.

Guardado was working as a security guard for an auto repair shop when he was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. The death sparked protests in southern California demanding justice.

“He told me he was going to come back home and eat some tacos dorados, but he never came back home. My family and my community feel destroyed because we still don’t know anything. We don’t know what happened with my son,” said Elisa Guardado, Andrés’s mother, in Spanish during a press conference.

The family is demanding the release of Andrés’s autopsy, which has recently been delayed. A security hold was placed on the autopsy just two days after the head of the homicide bureau, Capt. Kent Wegener, said the autopsy would be released to the public. It’s been about a week and the family demands to see the autopsy for closure and to know what happened to their loved one.

Original: Friends and family are demanding answers after an 18-year-old boy was shot and killed by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy. The man, identified at Andrés Guardado, was working as a security guard when he was shot and killed by an LASD deputy. The killing has set off protests and national outrage.

Andrés Guardado was killed by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy and the community is demanding answers.

According to reports, Guardado was working as a security guard in Gardena, California when LASD officers drove by. The officers claim that Guardado was not wearing a security guard uniform when they drove by the auto repair shop and that he had a gun.

His death is sparking outrage in California because it is another example of police brutality. Protesters have taken to the streets in major cities demonstrating for weeks. The protesters are demanding severe police reform to save the lives of Black and brown people killed by the police.

The nation is taking notice and demanding some action to bring justice.

Those who knew Guardado are casting a lot of doubt on the story being pushed by the police. The case has drawn the attention of national and local politicians demanding something to be done to fully investigate Guardado’s death.

“Another day and another Black or Brown kid has been shot in the back by police,” Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán and Maxine Waters, both from Los Angeles, said in a joint statement. “These killings must stop. We demand it. The American people demand it.”

Videos of the store owner sharing what happened are circulating on social media.

According to the shop owner, the sheriffs came to the shop and took the tapes and recording equipment with the footage. This was done before a warrant was issued for the equipment. In the video, the shop owner shows the damage done to the cameras.

The shop owner claims that the officers were not wearing body cameras. Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva acknowledged the importance of all officers wearing body cameras.

The story from the police and the story from the shop owner and family are very different.

The discrepancies have led to protests against the police adding to the growing unrest from Americans against police brutality. States and cities across the country have started to take steps to wrangle in the numerous police departments.

“I firmly believe that an immediate and independent investigation must be conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) into this matter, and I urge the Sheriff’s Department to immediately and fully cooperate with this OIG independent investigation,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

People are protesting to demand justice for Guardado.

As more and more people join in the fight to radically reform the police, the country gets closer to ending over-policing. Guardado is not the first and won’t be the last questionable killing of a person of color by police in the U.S. Rest in peace, Andres.

READ: Protests Erupt After Police Kill A Mexican-American Teenager In Mexico