On Monday, community activists however continued to call for an independent investigation into incident. Al Rojas along with another 10 to 15 residents at a press conference outside of the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office in Woodland, suggested that there was a functional difference between the review that is going on, and investigation.
According to Mr. Rojas:
“Review and investigation are two separate things. The investigation is being done by the Woodland Police Department. We have been calling for an independent investigation.”
He went on to argue that:
“So far no one has accepted the idea of an independent investigation. Because police are involved in this investigation, how can the people be assured that there has been equal justice under the law when police agencies are investigating police agencies?”
He also believes that since the District Attorney supervises the gang enforcement, that they are not a neutral party in this. Now Jeff Reisig will be the person who reviews the investigation that the police department just completed.
Adding fuel to the anxiety and frustration of many were the comments made by Woodland Police Chief Carey Sullivan last week at the Woodland City Council meeting when he called those calling for an independent investigation, “hypocritical.”
“The men and women in the Woodland Police Department have been working many long and hard hours to complete this investigation. They have been collecting evidence and doing so objectively and fairly. We have not engaged in a public discussion of this issue in order not to taint this investigation. The integrity of this investigation is of utmost importance to us.
“I would like to say that it angers me when a person insults the integrity of this organization and this community by on one hand calling for a fair and objective investigation, and on the other hand calling the Woodland Police Department complicit with the Sheriff’s Department. This is totally hypocritical statement. These officers are upholding the law and are dedicated to protecting the citizens of the city of Woodland, and they work long and hard at doing so.”
Al Rojas announced at the press conference on Monday that they would be delivering a letter to Chief Sullivan and request a meeting.
The letter in part reads:
As I recall, we attempted to approach you at the City Council meeting asking if the Woodland Police Chief was present, not knowing that you were the “Police Chief”. At that time, you responded in a very angry tone of voice identifying yourself as the Police Chief. I responded that we would like to talk to you if possible to meet with you and you became very angry and hostile. You questioned my having made the statement of “complicity” when I was given the opportunity to speak during the Council’s ” Public comments” agenda item.
At that time you became enraged when I asked you to lower your voice, hostility, and anger towards me. At which time you abruptly and very angrily in a loud voice stood up an ordered me by stating “come with me, lets step out side!” and I followed you out as did other witnesses who witnessed your attempt to provoke me. I immediately reminded you not to threaten me nor point your finger at me and requested that you take control of your angry outburst in public, and, requested that you respect me and those who were around you who also witnessed your unacceptable behavior along with your refusal to respond to our request “to meet with you regarding our concerns” while you responded with “Goodnight, I will not meet with you !!”
The letter goes on to request another meeting with the Police Chief. The Vanguard will be meeting with Chief Sullivan this morning.
On Saturday, Supervisor Matt Rexroad on his blog stated that he believes only a very small group of people even care about this incident.
Now — I realize that 150-200 people really care a great deal — but I just don’t sense a large community outrage over the issue. It is my sense that most of the people in Woodland certainly support the Woodland Police Department and even the Sheriff’s Department. They view this shooting as one of those things that happens when you have a county of 200,000 people.
There certainly are some people that see a real problem here and I acknowledge that some of them are thoughtful people (not all of them). However, my view is that the vast majority of people in Woodland are good to go.
He goes on to say:
What I hear time and time again is — bad things happen when you have a knife and are on drugs.
The District Attorney’s office is going to do their review and it may get considered by other law enforcement agencies. However, I don’t see anything coming from all of this.
For the most part, I disagree with the Supervisor here. As I reminded him, this is again not simply a Woodland issue. Sheriff Ed Prieto is not the Sheriff of Woodland, he’s the Sheriff of Yolo County and the people I have spoken with, many of whom are from Woodland and probably have not spoken with Supervisor Rexroad, are very concerned about what happened.
As I have stated in the past, I do not think this issue merely comes down to “bad things happen when you have a knife and are on drugs.”
There continue to be key questions with the incident that I have laid out in the past.
First, why was Mr. Gutierrez approached in the first place. And yes, I realize that police officers have the right to have consensual encounters, the problem is that if Mr. Gutierrez was not acting out of the ordinary, why would three plain clothes police officers dressed like gang members approach him? Is that not asking for trouble. The affidavit and warrant never explains why he was approached to begin with.
Second, at what point did Mr. Gutierrez credibly know that he was being approached by police officers rather than gang members? If he believed the pursuers were gang members, he was likely not going to stick around long enough to check their identification. A reasonable person in this case would probably run.
When Mr. Gutierrez runs, he is pursued by the officers who corner him. Again, does he realize that these are police officers, because if he believes they are gang members it is reasonable that he would attempt to defend himself.
Many I have spoken to question whether it takes a fatal gun shot to disarm one man with a knife. So that is another question that must be addressed.
As I stated last week, Chief Sullivan needs to understand there is anxiety and frustration in some segments of the community. THe issue is not whether the Woodland Police are honest or trustworthy–they may very well be both. The need for independence arises because you want there to be no doubt that all stones have been turned over in this investigation, that there is zero possibility of things being overlooked. It is part of the process that enables all of the public to trust the outcome regardless of the findings. These comments that Mr. Rojas and others make are not intended to insult the Woodland Police Department but rather to press the issue so that there can be no doubt what the truth is.
—David M. Greenwald reporting