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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.

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After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief

Fierce

After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief

The Washington Post / Getty

Last week, after President Donald Trump incited riots and terrorism at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. the tenth chief of the United States Capitol Polic, Steven Sund, submitted his letter of resignation. His resignation came hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned his reaction to the violent insurrection at the capitol and called for his termination. During a press conference, Pelosi expressed her disbelief at Sund’s failure to “even” make a call during the breach. Speaking about his lack of action, Pelosi said “There was a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol Police,” referring to Sund.

At the time of his resignation, Sund informed members of the Capitol Police Board that his resignation will begin on Jan. 16. Now, to fill his place, the U.S. Capitol Police have appointed a Black woman as the department’s acting chief .

Two days after the riots at the Capitol, Yogananda Pittman was named the acting chief on the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website

Pittman joined the department in 2001 and is the first woman and first Black person to lead the organization. According to NPR, Pittman “as been with the force since April 2001 and was named acting chief on Friday, according to the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website. That came two days after pro-Trump extremists faced off and eventually overwhelmed security forces at the U.S. Capitol complex.”

Pittman’s career at USCP has been described as “distinguished.”

In 2012, she became one of the first Black female supervisors to rise to the rank of captain. NPR notes that “in that role, she oversaw more than 400 officers and civilians and was an integral part of the security planning for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration the following year, according to her biography… Her first assignment with the USPC was in the Senate Division, where she was assigned to provide “security and protective details for U.S. Senators and visiting dignitaries.”

Last October, Pittman was recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Women in Federal Law Enforcement’s Outstanding Advocate for Women in Federal Law Enforcement award.

“It is very important for young female law enforcement officers to see someone who looks like them in leadership positions,” Pittman said in a statement in response to her award. “It says to them that these positions are obtainable and available to them.”

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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