I was therefore stunned to see the interview with Sheriff Ed Prieto which came out on Sunday on Fox 40 in Sacramento.
“I can see where people get agitated and they get swept up in the moment. I’m not highly concerned with those things. I’ve heard they made comments like, ‘Muerta Prieto. Kill Prieto. I’m not concerned with that at all.”
I marched all the way to the top of the overpass and had not heard anyone say that. So asked a number of other attendees including my wife, Cecilia. She told me they were chanting “No Mas Muertas.”
There was a sign that called for Prieto to be fired. It was held by one of the cousins of Gutierrez.
I asked Jim Smith, Editor of the Woodland Daily Democrat who was at the event covering it for that newspaper. He had no such recollection either.
So I called the Sheriff himself to ask him whether he was specifically referring to this march and who told him it.
He told me that he had received calls from people on Gum Ave who were concerned about his safety. He said they called and told him that there were threats against him.
The Sheriff of course was not at the rally and was relying on at best second-hand information. He did say it was more than one person who told him this. But as I walked with the entire procession, I told him that no one was chanting anything of that sort.
He responded that he didn’t say they had chanted it.
At best then it was some isolated individual who might have said something. But as Jim Smith reported, the march was peaceful. As another person who I asked reminded me, Al Rojas, one of the organizers asked people to invoke the spirit of Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez before the procession.
While I respect the work that the Sheriff does and respect the fact that he is in a tough position, I just do not see what was gained by making this claim.
Overall, he was somewhat defensive about the entire incident arguing that his deputies had acted appropriately, said that he believes they will be exonerated, that he believes the investigation by Woodland PD will show that they acted appropriately, but he was also welcoming of a third party investigation by the Attorney General’s Office at the conclusion of Woodland PD’s investigation.
One comment however that struck me as wrongheaded was his claim that the protest was largely carried out by outside agitators rather than Woodland residents.
First, I’m not sure what it matters, there are certainly people from around the region whether they be in Davis, West Sacramento, Winters, or Sacramento who are concerned about what happened. I do not happen to see a problem with that.
However, I was at the march, he was not. The vast majority of people who were at this march were local Woodland residents. Average citizens that you would not expect to see at a political rally. They came because they want answers and are frustrated at the response from authorities. They were quiet and respectful, but they were there.
I do not see what is gained by dismissing the protest. Certainly the Sheriff has heard enough from the people of Woodland, but I will also remind him, he is not the Sheriff of Woodland. He is the Sheriff of Yolo County and as such, it is for all of us to be concerned.
I still have a lot of questions that have not been answered about this incident.
First, what was Mr. Gutierrez doing that he caused him to be approached by law enforcement to begin with? The affidavit does not answer that question.
Second, at what point did the officers identify themselves as being law enforcement? If these individuals were dressed up to look like gang members, it would only be natural for the individual to attempt to flee. In what way did they identify themselves as law enforcement as well? After all, if he thought gang members were chasing him, it might be natural not to believe them if they merely said they were law enforcement. I do not know what happened and it really does not spell it out in the affidavit.
Third, at what point did he wield his knife and did he do it because he was attacking law enforcement or because he thought he was defending himself against three gang members?
Fourth, was shooting him the only recourse. The affidavit suggested that he had attacked them and in the course of attacking them they shot him. Did this in fact happen that way?
Fifth, he was supposedly loaded on meth, and yet he had gone to the DMV to obtain his driver’s license, was lucid enough to pass the driving test, and while walking home suddenly got out of control. I’m not saying that is impossible, but it is at least something that gives one serious concern and pause.
These are all questions that lead the average citizen to question the incident.
We will be talking about this incident on Vanguard Radio. So far, I have lined up Al Rojas as a guest from Wednesday at 6 pm on KDRT 95.7 FM. I am also trying to get someone from the ACLU and maybe another citizen from Woodland to speak. There are lots of questions that need answers.
I think Sheriff Prieto while well-intentioned in terms of defending his deputies probably would have been better off not making statements when he did not personally witness the march. From what I can tell, I have talked to well over 20 people, no one remembers hearing any threats to the Sheriff.
—David M. Greenwald reporting