Things That Matter

Police Fatally Shot Rueben Galindo and Now The Mother Of His Children Is Demanding Answers

Azucena Zamorano attended a community meeting last night in Charlotte, North Carolina, hosted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, hoping to get answers about why the father of her five children, 29-year-old Rueben Galindo was shot and killed by police last month. Zamorano sat in front of Police Chief Kerr Putney and asked him straight out: “I don’t understand why he was shot.” All he said in response was “Yes, ma’am, I understand” and “I am sorry for your loss.”

CREDIT: Héctor Vaca

The tragic shooting, which is currently under investigation, took place on Sept. 6, and the events that unfolded prior to the fatal shooting are very confusing. According to several news outlets, Zamorano says that Galindo (her common-law partner) called 911 to tell them he was surrendering his gun. Jaqueline Guerra, a friend of the family, told the Charlotte Observer that Galindo wanted to give the police his gun because he had an upcoming court appearance and didn’t want to be deported because of it. According to Zamorano’s attorney Brian Hochman, Galindo had been in the United States 14 or 15 years.

In the 911 call, Galindo tells the 911 operator that he needs to speak with someone who speaks Spanish. It takes about a minute for the transfer to take place, and even then the call gets even more confusing because Galindo is on the phone with the operator and the translator.

In the initial 911 call, which lasted 14-minutes and has been released, Galindo sounds a bit disoriented but even more confused because of the three-way conversation between himself, the operator and the translator. He tells them he needs help but isn’t specific about what kind of help he needs. He keeps saying, “Will the police help me or not?” He also tells them that his gun does not have bullets and requests the presence of Officer Hernandez on the scene. There are also a couple of instances in which the things Galindo says are not relayed to the operator in detail.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released the 911 calls along with the body-cam videos. WARNING: Below is footage of the fatal shot.

CMPDVidcast / YouTube

Héctor Vaca of Action NC, an organization that helps the low-income community in Charlotte, tells mitú that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the footage in a calculated way so people would conclude that Galindo was brandishing a gun.

Acompáñenos en una reunion con Chief Kerr Putney y policias de CMPD. El 10/12/17 a las 6:30 PM para una conversacion…

Posted by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department on Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Vaca says they did this by releasing a screenshot first, in which they circled the gun. Then they linked out to the video.

The actual video shows Galindo with both hands raised.

CREDIT: YouTube/CMPDvidcast

Galindo appears outside for less than 10 seconds before he is shot. The video clearly has the police yelling “manos, manos” to Galindo, and he indeed shows his hands. When he raises them, the police shoot.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, “Officers gave multiple commands to Mr. Galindo to drop the weapon. Mr. Galindo refused to drop the gun and the officers perceived an imminent deadly threat. The officers subsequently fired their weapons striking Mr. Galindo and immediately requested Medic.”

The only verbal command that can be heard on the video is “manos.”

Is this is a case of words being lost in translation? Attorney Brian Hochman, Zamorano’s representative, tells mitú that whatever was going on with Galindo before the police arrived on the scene is a distraction because what matters is what you see in the video.

“There’s no question that the command they gave him is ‘manos,'” Hochman says. “The next command they give is ‘drop the gun’ in English.”

Hochman wonders if Galindo understood the word “drop” because he says that’s not a word you use every day. Hochman says Galindo specifically requested a Spanish speaking officer during the 911 call, and at the “most critical moment is when they spoke to him in English.”

“When you focus on the actual videotape, there’s nothing that any reasonable person [watching the video] can say that can be construed as threatening,” Hochman says. “He is standing there with the hands in the air.”

Alma Hernandez of Action NC told the Charlotte Observer that the meeting did not answer their questions. According to Hernandez, police spent too much time “hotdogging” throughout the meeting and ended before everyone’s questions were answered.

READ: OKC Police Officer Fatally Shot Magdiel Sanchez Despite Witnesses Yelling That He Was Deaf

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This Guatemalan Mom Was Separated From Her Son At The Border After Enduring A Gunshot To The Face

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This Guatemalan Mom Was Separated From Her Son At The Border After Enduring A Gunshot To The Face

@ajplus / Twitter

In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, a 32-year-old Guatemalan woman recounts her experience fleeing her home country in August 2017 after being shot in the face at a demonstration. Not only does the woman—who goes by the false name Daniella—describe the event that catalyzed her desire to leave Guatemala, but she tells of the many months spent traveling north, and the many months spent in a detention center after reaching the border, separated from her young son.

On August 9, 2017, Daniella and her son, Carlos, were leaving their family’s house when they encountered a large protest against a new measure that would require people to pay for water. At first the protest was peaceful—but then bullets started flying through the air. Daniella and Carlos were just passing through, but a bullet had caught Daniella in two parts of her body: the left arm, and right below the eye.

“I threw my arm around Carlos to protect him—he was covered in blood, and I started to panic,” she told People. “Little did I know that the one bleeding was me.”

Because of rampant corruption in that part of Guatemala, Daniella knew that the police wouldn’t come—they were told not to interfere. So vigilant were certain members of the demonstration that Daniella’s father received a threatening call before she even made it to a hospital. The caller told her father that if they filed a report, he would kill the whole family. Later she learned that the man who had shot her lived just three blocks away from her mother. Fortunately, when she made it to the hospital, her husband—who had moved the the U.S. five years earlier to find work, sent money for the expenses.

After more than a week in the hospital, both bullets remain in Daniella’s body to this day.

“The doctor said that if they were taken out, I could be left in a vegetative state, or I could die,” she said. “To this day I still feel pain.”

After this harrowing experience, Daniella decided that it was time to follow in her husband’s footsteps and flee to the U.S. She knew that the journey would be anything but easy, but she could have never guessed how nightmarish a month lay ahead. Traveling by truck and by bus, there were many nights spent on the side of the road. When they finally made it to the Arizona border, they were not dropped off at an immigration center, as she had expected. Instead, she and Carlos were told to climb a tree, then jump from the tree to the border wall. From there, they could reach the other side.

“I told Carlos, ‘Mijo, you have to jump.’ He was so afraid that he wouldn’t move,” she said. “I looked into my son’s eyes, and I said, ‘Son, please trust me. Everything’s going to be all right.’

After they had both made it safely to the other side, they took just a few steps before the Border Patrol arrived. They were taken into custody and dropped off at “La Hielera”—The Icebox. There, Daniella was forced to sign papers she didn’t understand, and the officer who was present told her that the children would be taken to a shelter, then given up for adoption. Naturally, all the mothers were desperately frightened by this news.

Before leaving for court that same day, Daniella said goodbye to Carlos, unsure if they would ever see each other again. She told People Magazine that she held her son and said: “You’re a champion, Papa, and you’re always going to be in my heart.”

The mothers were not immediately told the whereabouts of their children. But five months after being moved to Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, Daniella learned that Carlos was in a New Jersey foster home.

A few months later, Daniella had her official court hearing. Her bail was posted at $30,000, and after filing an appeal to extend the bail deadline, Daniella was released from custody. She had been detained for 11 months.

The organization Immigrant Families Together had gathered the money for Daniella’s bail, and they helped her get back on her feet by providing her with food and clean clothes. They also took her to the airport to fly to Virginia, where Carlos had relocated to live with his uncle, her brother.

Daniella’s story isn’t unique—roughly 30,000 people are detained in the U.S. on a given day, and these numbers have seen major upticks throughout 2019. What makes Daniella’s story remarkable is her reunion with Carlos. Many families who have been separated at the border are not nearly as lucky.

While she and Carlos continue to deal with the psychological trauma of this experience, Daniella is grateful and focused on the future.

“Without the assistance from all the people that helped me, I wouldn’t be free,” said Daniella. “Now my only focus is my family, my son, starting a new life here in California . . . I don’t have to worry about being shot again or putting my son’s life in danger.”

The Supreme Court Is Deciding Whether It Should Criminalize Pro-Immigrant Speech

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The Supreme Court Is Deciding Whether It Should Criminalize Pro-Immigrant Speech

New York Immigration Center

The First Amendment seemed like one law that would go unchallenged in the United States. With bipartisan support and the general consensus that freedom of speech is a tenet of democracy seemed to ensure its safety. However, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of United States v. Sineneng-Smith. 

The judges will decide if pro-immigrant speech that might encourage undocumented immigrants to illegally enter the United States is unlawful. The verdict could have serious consequences not just for migrants but for their advocates as well. 

The Supreme Court has a conservative majority and the current iteration of the Republican party has taken a rather extreme anti-immigrant stance lately, two factors which could heavily affect the outcome of the decision. 

The case concerns an obscure “encouragement provision” of immigration law.

According to Slate, a section in our immigration code forbids the encouragement of an “alien” to reside in the United States if the individual has no legal status. The case made its away to the Supreme Court by way of Evelyn Sineneng-Smith. 

Sineneng-Smith was charged and convicted of fraud by the Trump administration when, as an immigration consultant, she incorrectly told clients they could stay in the U.S. under a program she had already known ended. However, prosecutors also convicted her on the encouragement provision. 

The issue is Sineneng-Smith is being charged for what she said on a very literal basis. The fraud is the obvious wrong-doing, but now the courts will have to decide: are the words themselves? 

What if it is an undocumented person’s best course of action to remain in the U.S. without papers, which may be the case with our esoteric and fluctuating immigration system, on top of the implied moral conundrum.

“An advocate or lawyer now has to worry, given the government’s position in this case, that this language … may trigger criminal liability just for correctly advising a noncitizen,” Manny Vargas, senior counsel for the nonprofit Immigrant Defense Project in New York City, told Slate.

Advocates will be forced to second guess the advice they give to clients in fear of facing legal action. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Sineneng-Smith to appeal. 

Although the courts struck down Sineneng-Smith’s fraud appeal, they reversed the encouragement conviction. A three-judge majority believed the provision criminalizes constitutionally protected speech, therefore, violating the First Amendment. 

The judges asserted that the provision, “criminalizes a substantial amount of protected expression in relation to the statute’s narrow legitimate sweep,” and that it, “potentially criminalizes the simple words—spoken to a son, a wife, a parent, a friend, a neighbor, a coworker, a student, a client—’I encourage you to stay here.’”

However, the Trump administration decided to legally challenge the 9th Circuit sending the case to the Supreme Court who could choose to either accept or reject the case. They chose to accept it. 

The encouragement provision provides “appropriate punishment for defendants who seek enrichment by incentivizing or procuring violations of the immigration laws by aliens who illegally enter or remain in the United States,” the government wrote in a court filing. 

The Trump Administration also suggested the 9th Circuit’s “hypotheticals” are hyperbole and that the provision is an essential law enforcement tool. 

The ACLU stands against the encouragement provision. 

 “Anytime you hear a government lawyer saying ‘trust us’ when our free speech rights are at stake, you should run in the other direction,” ACLU deputy legal director Cecillia Wang said

Wang noted that there cannot be any discourse about immigration if individuals are banned from mentioning the subject on social media. 

“I write an op-ed saying, ‘I disagree with the U.S. immigration laws and I believe that ‘Dreamers’ should stay in the U.S., you belong here,” she said. “I can’t leave it up to good faith in prosecutors not to come after me and try to throw me in federal prison for doing that.” 

Vargas believes that the fact that the Supreme Court has taken on the case, coupled with the Trump administration advocating for the provision itself — is not a good sign. According to Slate, the provision is little known that has existed for years but has rarely been enforced until now. 

The only thing that’s different now is that the current administration has amped up anti-immigrant rhetoric along with increasingly extreme tactics to enforce those sentiments. 

“The fact that the U.S. is looking to get the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s finding … is an indication that the government wants to use this provision,” Vargas told Slate. 

If you’re wondering if the Supreme Court could really ban freedom of speech in a country that regularly bans people from even entering it, that banned couples from getting married, that fairly recently banned one race from using the same water fountains as another race, then you might be asking the wrong questions.