Things That Matter

Horrific Footage Shows Police Officers Shooting Teen In The Back Of The Head And His Partner’s Response Is Shocking

The proliferation of security and surveillance cameras has revealed cases of police malpractice and brutality that usually target Black and Brown minorities. These cases range from people being stopped by police cars and then getting beaten up following a minor discussion, to instances in which police officers fire their weapons with fatal consequences. Since the bashing of Rodney King in 1991, a case of police brutality that was caught on camera and sparked outrage in the Black community, the police has been increasingly scrutinized and instances in which procedure is not followed lead to legal battles. 

Such was the case involving Officer Ray Villalvazo and teenager Isiah Murrietta-Golding, who was fatally shot by the officer during a chase in Fresno, California.

The chase happened after Isiah and his brother were approached by the police while driving a car. They were suspects in the killing of a man who had been shot and then crashed his car into a tree the day before. Isiah’s brother later pleaded guilty to the murder. The footage of Isiah’s death has resurfaced due to a wrongful death lawsuit that is being contested. Yes, Isiah shouldn’t have run away, but, according to the teenager’s father, who acts as the plaintiff, the killing was premeditated and unjustified. Also, there is a justifiable suspicion in these cases when it comes to discrimination towards minorities. 

The incident took place in April 2017, but the heart-wrenching footage has just been released.

The incident took place while police was chasing Murrieta-Golding, an unarmed suspect. The fact that he wasn’t carrying a weapon is key, as the use of blunt force was ultimately unnecessary because the suspect did not represent a clear and imminent threat to the officers. However, an Office of Independent Review investigation concluded that the shooting was justified because the policemen believed that Murrieta-Golding was reaching for a weapon. As the Daily Mail reports, independent reviewer John Gliatta wrote: “‘The reasonableness of force is based on the officer making a split second decision after observing the suspect reaching for his waistband area several times during the foot pursuit”. But the footage questions whether the decision was really made in a split-second. 

Yes, Murrieta-Golding was wanted in connection to a homicide . Yes, as we have said he was a fugitive and the officers were within their rights to capture him, but that does not mean they had to shoot him while he was running away. 

The cop’s partner says “Good shot!” after the gun is fired… as if they were hunting or playing a video game.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the video is the soundtrack, in which you can hear Villalvazo’s partner praising him for the shot. “Good shot!”. That is as wrong as it gets, from any point of view in which you wish to analyze it. It objectifies the suspect turned victim and makes killing seem inconsequential, like not a big deal. We can only imagine the suffering that was inflicted to Murrieta-Golding’s family after hearing these words. This kind of language is totally dehumanizing, and an affront to anyone who has been the victim of police brutality or who has lost a loved one in a similar way. 

This takes police brutality to a whole new level: it reveals systematic cruelty.

Murrieta-Golding was shot on the back of the head after he had jumped a fence. He died three days later in the hospital. The boy’s father watched the video and now he believes that the use of lethal force was not justified.  Legal analyst Tony Capozzi told ABC30: “From the video, the officer just comes up, crouches down, and shoots”. This description is chilling as it describes a calculated, cold action that does not seem to have been a “split-second decision”. 

The plaintiff’s attorney is now pushing to consider the shooting unjustified, and the bodycam footage potentially supports the claim.

As ABC 30 reports, plaintiff’s attorney Stuart Chandler, who represents the boy’s father, said: “Isiah and his brother were considered possible or probable suspects. There was not a warrant for their arrest. There was no conduct by Isiah that day to ever show that he had a gun – because, of course, he didn’t”.

In the bodycam footage we can see the teenager stopping and then jumping the fence surrounding a daycare facility, at which point the officer aims and shoots. Chandler continued: “The law says there has to be an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury, which clearly there wasn’t. This young man was trying to run away. And you can be as critical as you want about how you shouldn’t do that, but it doesn’t give police the right to use lethal force”. The trial is set for October 2020. And Chandler is gearing up for the case, having recently told CNN: “The fact that the police department and the city of Fresno’s police auditor all agreed that this shooting was justified is troubling in light of the video that clearly shows that it’s not”.

A Man Seated In A Vehicle Was Attacked By A K9 Unit And The Community Wants Answers

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A Man Seated In A Vehicle Was Attacked By A K9 Unit And The Community Wants Answers

Pixabay

Police officer Dan Lesser resigned from a K-9 unit after using threatening language on a suspect who was inside a vehicle, then releasing a police dog on him. The Spokesman-Review discovered numerous revelations following the release of public records regarding the investigation into the officer’s conduct. 

The Washington paper discovered that a U.S. marshal and many of Dan’s supervisors did not approve of his actions, but failed to file formal complaints with internal affairs. 

The Spokesman-Review parsed through hundreds of pages of records of an internal investigation into Dan’s conduct. 

“The result of that meeting on 2-13-19 was that Officer Lesser resigned from the K9 unit,” Capt. Tom Hendren wrote in a report. “His resignation was accepted and he has since been reassigned to patrol.”

Dan used a police dog to attack a suspect in a vehicle. 

Dan, who was with his nephew and fellow officer Scott Lesser, was found to have violated his department’s policy when he threatened to kill a suspect. Dan and Scott were also reprimanded for not turning on their body cameras soon enough.

“I’m going to put a bullet in your brain,” Lesser told the suspect Lucas Ellerman. “I’m done f***ing with you.” 

Dan broke the windows of Ellerman’s vehicle and continued to threaten to kill him before telling Scott to get his police dog. 

“I’m coming. Please, don’t,” Ellerman says holding his hands up while climbing out of the backseat. “I’m coming. I’m coming. I’m coming.”

As the dog came closer, Ellerman insists that he doesn’t have a gun. Dan and Scott sicced the dog on Ellerman telling the dog “fass” which is the German command to bite. Ellerman was left with multiple puncture wounds on his leg which later got an infection. 

“I think at that point I’d already made a decision in my mind to already deploy my K-9,” Dan told internal affairs investigators. “Based on all the factors. Based on his active resistance. Based on the crimes. Based on the threats. Everything that I was told, he was armed with a handgun.”

Dan was faulted by supervisors for making violent threats at the suspect and failing to activate his body cam in time but they exonerated Dan for siccing the dog. 

However, the investigation records revealed that three superiors expressed dismay about Dan’s deployment of the animal, but none filed formal complaints with internal fairs as was required. 

Dan’s supervisors face criticism for failing to file formal complaints.

A U.S. marshal who chose to remain anonymous told police Ombudsman Bart Logue, who is an advocate for more oversight of internal affairs investigations, that they questioned Dan’s judgment in releasing the dog. The marshal also expressed serious concerns over the conduct of the police department’s Patrol Anti-Crime Team of which Dan belonged before he resigned. 

Three months before the department’s official investigation, Lt. Rob Boothe sought a second opinion on Dan Lesser’s conduct. Boothe who had been involved with several disciplinary reviews of Lesser feared he might be biased. With Sgt. John Everly’s approval he came to his decision. 

  1. “It is my belief that the suspect posed a potential threat of violence or serious bodily harm, but that threat was not imminent at the time of the application of the canine,” Boothe concluded in his report.

Another supervisor, Sgt. Sean Wheeler was also unconvinced that Ellerman posed a threat to Dan. 

“Ellerman eventually put his hands up and stated he was coming out as he crawled toward the front seat,” Wheeler wrote eight days after the arrest. “This is when Officer D. Lesser deployed his K9.”

While these supervisors were correct to take note of Dan’s behavior, they failed to file an official complaint as the department policy mandates. 

Logue finds the lack of transparency in the case unsettling. 

Because the supervisors failed to file formal complaints the ombudsman was not able to participate in interviews conducted by internal affairs investigators. Logue believes a lack of transparency is a major issue. It is unclear if Dan resigned of his own volition or received pressure from the department to do so — because the records don’t specify either way. 

“There should be nothing off the record” in an internal investigation, Logue said. “Thankfully we don’t have these kinds of cases a lot. But when we do, it seems critical to have all of these things happen aboveboard.”

He believes all of the interviews and conversations conducted should have been meticulously documented. Logue says the investigation “was not being done correctly and in accordance with policy,” until he filed a complaint of his own after being tipped off. 

“There is such a huge difference between an internal affairs investigation and a chain-of-command review,” Logue told the Spokesman-Review.

Dilan Cruz Becomes A Symbol Of Colombia’s Protest Movement After He Was Shot Dead By Police

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Dilan Cruz Becomes A Symbol Of Colombia’s Protest Movement After He Was Shot Dead By Police

RCN Radio Bogota

As Colombians keep protesting the government of Ivan Duque, tensions are mounting due to the increasingly aggressive tactics being used by the police. The political climate in South America is extremely polirized at the moment, with waves of protests turning violent in Chile, Bolivia and now Colombia, where the Duque government is facing stern challenges that have led to unprecedented measures such as a curfew in the capital city of Bogota.

 Duque has at least admitted that the country has to enter a “national conversation”. But, at the same time, the conservative president has called for the “deployment of joint patrols of police and army in the most critical places”. Protesters argue that you can’t have both: you either enter a conversation or deploy the full force of the State. Multiple injuries and deaths have been reported. But the recent death of one Dilan Cruz is a momentum shifting event. 

The anti-government protests are being led by unions and student groups.

Credit: RCN Radio

Tens of thousands of protesters have flooded the streets of Bogota for the past week. According to DW, anti-government protests “are centered on discontent with Duque’s conservative government — a key ally of the United States, rumors of economic reforms, and what protesters say is a lack of government action to stop corruption and the murder of human rights activists”. Colombia has traditionally been a very divided country when it comes to the right/left ideological divide. The protests might have righteous motives, but is is hard to contain a movement.

As Reuters reports: “Marches have attracted thousands of peaceful demonstrators, but last Thursday and Friday were also marred by the destruction of mass transit stations, the use of tear gas, curfews in Cali and Bogota and the deaths of three people in connection with alleged looting”. Things might be getting worse before they get better as negotiations have been slow and sterile.

As CE Noticias Financieras reports: “Talks between the National Paro Committee and the government are stalled because unions demand exclusive negotiation and refuse to be part of a dialogue with employers and guilds that Duque convened as part of a “Great Conversation National””. 

A protester called Dilan Cruz has died after being hit with a police projectile.

As the protests led a fifth day on November 26, an activist lay in agony after being hit with a police missile. The protests intensified then, and have reached new proportions after Cruz died. Police tactics have been judged as way too harsh and disproportionate to the nature of the demonstrations. For example, the authorities used tear gas to disperse a crowd while the national anthem was being sung in front of the central bank headquarters. 

Remember his name: Dilan Cruz. He has become a symbol of the protest movement in Colombia.

Dilan Cruz grabbed a tear gas canister and threw it back at the police. Seconds later a shot was heard and he lay on the ground amidst screams from fellow protesters. He spent two days in hospital but died from the bullet he received in the head, according to reports from BBC. Dilan was only 18-years-old and had graduated from high school in the public institution Colegio Ricaurte the same day on which he died (talk about a cruel twist of fate). There have been dozens of reports of police brutality during these tense days in Colombia, but Dilan has become the flag of the movement. 

“Dilan vive, Dilan vive” is the new protest battle cry… 

Dilan’s classmates led protests towards the hospital where he died. With cries of “Dilan lives, Dilan lives” they denounced the human rights violations that activists have been subject to before and during the protests. On the corner of 19 and 4, which is generally a chaotic area of the capital city, there are memorials including candles, posters and graffiti. Dilan’s death also lead to a national strike. 

President Duque has extended his condolences… yes, really.

The president tweeted a message to the victim’s mother, grandfather and sisters. He also promised that an investigation would be launched to clarify the incident. However, some conservative voices have already started victim blaming, saying that since Dilan was a minor he should have been at home, and that the blame lays with his parents. 

Dilan will live forever as an icon of the protest movements.

Credit: somos_ugc / Instagram

Every movement or revolution has an icon. Dilan Cruz has become a martyr and his name will always be associated with social struggle and a watershed moment in which violence escalated and the world started to turn its eyes to 2019 Colombia and its many injustices, but also its voices of hope.