Commentary: In Search of An Indepedent Investigation into Shooting of Gutierrez

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img_3299.jpgIt was just last week, prior to the Thanksgiving break that the District Attorney finally released their report and the concurrence by the Attorney General’s Office on the more than six month old shooting of farm worker Luis Gutierrez as he walked on Gum Ave following an appointment at the DMV.

If you missed it last week the Vanguard embarked on a lengthy analysis of the District Attorney’s report, concluding the findings in the report are not nearly as clearcut as the District Attorney claims.  Given the circumstances involved, it seems reasonable that the shooting may have been justified, but the situation from the beginning was escalated by questionable actions by the officers involved.

The bigger problem is that there was never the kind of independent investigation that protesters and critics have been asking for since the shooting.

As the Woodland Daily Democrat’s editorial comments this week:

In the interests of impartiality, this paper argued some months ago for an outside investigation into the April 30 shooting death of Luis Gutierrez Navarro by three gang task force Yolo County deputies.

After considerable time, that investigation really hasn’t been undertaken. Rather, the state Department of Justice reviewed the findings of the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office — which were released this past week — which found the shooting justified. As a result, criminal charges against the three officers will not be pursued.

The Daily Democrat then misses their own point and concludes that “given the circumstances provided, deputies considered themselves in imminent danger and used appropriate force against Gutierrez.”  The Democrat again fails to recognize the problem when they write, “Judging from the information in the report…”

That is just the problem, we are all looking at one report, rather than the outside investigation that the Democrat asked for and now acknowledge they did not get.  So is it logical for them to do as they have and basically validate the findings?

Moreover, the Democrat could have done as we did a week and a half ago, when we painstakingly went over the testimony and claims, piece by piece, point by point and discovered numerous contradictions in the statements by the officers.  But moreover, the conclusion of the report often seems at odds with its own testimony from the officers.

The public deserved more than an independent agency re-reading the findings of the District Attorney’s Office and the conclusion that the District Attorney’s decision was “not unreasonable” and thus did not “constitute an abuse of discretion.”

Unfortunately we are still stuck in the same place that we were six months ago with unanswered questions.  There remain questions as to whether Mr. Gutierrez was a gang member, why he was stopped when he was walking alone in the middle of the day, whether deputies identified themselves as law enforcement and he knew they were police officers, among other things.

The Democrat writes:

“One thing that seems certain is that officers stopped Gutierrerz because they had a reasonable suspicion to believe he was in a gang. We do not believe Gutierrez was stopped based solely on his ethnicity.”

Really?  On what basis do they conclude that?  Mr. Gutierrez was not wearing gang clothing.  So what was the reasonable suspicion that he was in a gang?

We have the strange statement by Sgt. Johnson that

“Hispanic gang members will often not openly wear their gang colors. Instead, the gang member will wear generic colors to disguise their particular affiliation.”

That leads us into a logical connundrum whereby wearing gang colors signifies gang membership, but not wearing gang colors also potentially signifies gang membership.  Based on that statement, every Hispanic is a potential gang member regardless of their attire.

Deputy Oviedo gives us more reason for pause when he said in his statement:

“There was nothing unusual about the person that attracted their attention.”

The strongest evidence that he might have been in a gang was a tattoo that officers admitted they hadn’t seen on his hands.  However, as the report clarifies, “Deputy Bautista did not notice or see Navarro’s hands.”  The other officers do not make statements that they had seen his hands either.

A gang member in custody, identified as Rudolfo Flores, said he knew Gutierrez from his association with the Sureños, a street gang.  Heclaimed Mr. Gutierrez was in a gang and that he was a dangerous knife man.  But this witness in fact never witnessed anything and does not seem credible.  If Mr. Gutierrez was a dangerous knife man, would he not have a long criminal record?  He does not.  He has no real criminal record other than some driving violations.  (The report reads: “The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office had three criminal cases involving Navarro. Each involves a violation of Vehicle Code Section 14601, driving without a valid license (two from 2008 and one from 2009).”)  That would not seem to fit with this witnesses description of Mr. Gutierrez as a dangerous man to police officers.

“According to Flores, the deputy was lucky not to get killed because Gutierrez, who is a Sureño gang member, is a dangerous person and had said he would not let the cops take him.”

However, we know from the report, that Mr. Gutierrez had had many encounters with police, mainly in traffic stops and there is no record of him being belligerent to them.

“In the 15 verified contacts prior to April 30, 2009, there were no indications of any issues, conflicts, or confrontations between Navarro and officers. There is no record or indication of Navarro engaging in any type of resisting or assaultive behavior toward law enforcement or of Navarro being under the influence of a controlled substance.”

This history seems at odds with the testimony of Mr. Flores, a person who was in jail at the time of his interview.

So what was the reasonable suspicion to believe he was in a gang?  And why was he stopped?  We have testimonies from some of the officers that they kind of knew him, but no real sense for how they would have known him.  None of the officers had been involved in his prior police contacts.

“Deputy Bautista thought Navarro looked familiar and might be on probation or parole. Deputy Oviedo thought Navarro looked familiar but was not sure of Navarro’s identity. Sgt. Johnson did not know Navarro.”

The Democrat argues that Gutierrez was not stopped based solely on his ethnicity, but given these statements and sets of facts, that seems a questionable conclusion at best.  The officers claim that they thought they recognized Mr. Gutierrez or that he was on probation, but he was not on probation and they probably had never seen him before.  Would a white person undertaking the same activity as Mr. Gutierrez have been approached?  We’ll never know, but I certainly cannot rule out the fact that he probably would not have.

Obviously a consensual stop is consensual, but from our vantage point, there appears little reason for a man walking alone in the middle of the day to be approached by the deputies.  There also appears to be some question as to whether Mr. Gutierrez actually knew these were Sheriff’s Deputies contacting him.

One thing that is clear, without the gang pretense, or at least with the gang pretense in serious doubt, the contact with the police officers becomes far more questionable, especially when you have conflicting stories as to whether they identified themselves to Mr. Gutierrez.  This is a crucial question, because if Mr. Gutierrez does not know these are police officers, him running from them becomes much more defensible.  Only Sgt. Johnson’s account clearly says he identified himself.

Witnesses gave varying statements as to whether or not they knew that these were police officers.  One witness thought that they might be gang members who wanted to beat up the kid.

The issue of meth use is also inconclusive at best.  The official report uses it as pretense to suggest that Mr. Gutierrez was volatile and dangerous.  But was he?  That we will not know and we also do not really know how the meth got into his system and for how long.  We know he was apparently able to take a driving test and pass it.

The bottom line here is that we had questions before and these questions remain after the report.  There needs to be a new report here, the DA’s report is flawed, filled with contradictory statements and conjecture.  Too many seem willing to accept it at face value without questioning.

The Vanguard stands by its original call for an independent investigation.  What the Attorney General’s Office gave us was a review of the report.  That is all.  And that is not sufficient.  For us, this issue has not been put to rest by the DA’s report.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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26 thoughts on “Commentary: In Search of An Indepedent Investigation into Shooting of Gutierrez”

  1. Matt Rexroad

    David —

    So other than the deputies being found guilty of some crime I am just not sure what is going to satisfy you here.

    If the AG had written a separate report and reached the same conclusion you would want still another investigation.

    It appears that you are arguing process but really are upset about he conclusion.

    The issues about the reason for being approached by the officers is really not an issue. The DA report even cites the Supreme Court case that allows it.

    Law enforcement is messy. Finding contradictory statements is not uncommon.

    While the issues of gang membership, reason for stop, and use of meth may be interesting they are not the key issue in this case.

    In the end this was a guy that pulled a knife on police officers. That is something that you never mention above at being in question. When someone does that the officers must defend themselves. They did that.

    Matt Rexroad
    662-5184

  2. David M. Greenwald

    Matt:

    Thanks good question.

    What would satisfy me here:

    First, I would like to see a separate investigation.

    Second, an answer to my concerns.

    Third, that the separate investigation clarifies a lot of the points I raised in this piece and last week’s piece.

    Obviously the issue of being approached is not illegal but I think what everyone is missing is a chain of events that begins with the contact and ends with the shooting.

    In researching and studying the report last week, I talked to a number of attorneys and people who worked in law enforcement.

    This is a view that was expressed to me and I agree with:

    “The police created a situation that led to a justifiable shooting. It seems the circumstances leading up to it are questionable. The whole field contact and chasing him down are questionable. What happened once the confrontation began justifies use of deadly force. So, if the cops did not follow policy and procedure leading up to the confrontation, they may have caused the situation to escalate. If they had followed policy and procedure, perhaps they would not have chased him, and he’d still be alive.”

    So yes, this was a guy who ended up pulling a knife on police officers and the officers then are forced to shoot him in defense, but to me the key is issue is how Mr. Gutierrez got to the top of the overpass with knife, because if policy and procedures were not followed getting him up there, then their actions may not be as Kosher as implied.

  3. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]There remain questions as to whether Mr. Gutierrez was a gang member. [/quote] Really? Why? Of all the questions in this case, that one seems to me case closed. Not only did a fellow gang member ID Gutierrez, but he had the gang tattoo. [quote] If Mr. Gutierrez was a dangerous knife man, would he not have (had) a long criminal record? [/quote] Not necessarily. For one thing, being in a gang itself is not determinitive that the person has a long history of committing crimes. Depends on how long he was actively involved in the gang, as well. And if Gutierrez had committed prior offenses beyond driving violations, it’s entirely possible he was lucky to have not been apprehended. [quote] Mr. Gutierrez had had many encounters with police, mainly in traffic stops and there is no record of him being belligerent to them. [/quote] Likewise, there is no record of them being belligerent to him. The contention by the Gutierrez camp seems to be that the Woodland cops (and sheriffs) were some kind of rogue force out to get Latinos, innocent or otherwise. (Never mind that the Sheriff is Latino and so were some of the officers involved in this incident.) Perhaps if he was a victim of some kind of harrassment campaign by law enforcement, there would be a record of that.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    Rich:

    I found the fellow gang members identification questionable at best as I explain above. If this guy is a dangerous knife man who was a danger to the police where is the record to show it?

    The gang tattoo is actually far less proof than you would think. First of all, you do not know how old the tattoo is and whether he is a current member. Second, as I understand it, that does not constitute proof of gang membership. Again, where’s the criminal record?

    [quote]Not necessarily. For one thing, being in a gang itself is not determinitive that the person has a long history of committing crimes. Depends on how long he was actively involved in the gang, as well. And if Gutierrez had committed prior offenses beyond driving violations, it’s entirely possible he was lucky to have not been apprehended.[/quote]

    To me a guy who is a dangerous knife man would have many brushes with the law. I just don’t see it. The best evidence you have is a tattoo and a person whose credibility has to be in question. A lot of people including his family say he was not involved in gangs.

    [quote]he contention by the Gutierrez camp seems to be that the Woodland cops (and sheriffs) were some kind of rogue force out to get Latinos, innocent or otherwise.[/quote]

    I don’t think they are rogue, but I do think they racially profiled here. I don’t think they intentionally made that kind of mistake, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t make one. That the Sheriff is Latino proves nothing.

  5. Alphonso

    o we have a police officer who says Gutierrez was not wearing gang clothes but that may indicate he is a gang member because gang memebes try to diguise themselves by wearing non gang clothing. Then we have a poster admitting Gutierrez did not have much of a record, but he probably did bad things that we know about – he just did not get caught. Sorry, it does not work that way. He was not wearing gang clothes and he had a very insignificant criminal record. Further he had just resolved his entire “criminal past” by going to the DMV and getting a license.

    As for gang evidence. The tatoos are not significant alone – you have no idea when those were put on and why they were put there. Most gang memers have many tatoos. According to the Napa DA office web site the dots were not even on the correct hands. I bet 10% of UCD students have tatoos that could be considered gang related. Does that mean they are all gang members? No of course not!. Frequently, the way the dots are put on is with an ink ball point pen so it can be done on a whim.

    The guy who id’ed Gutierrez made an unreliable statement. According to law enforcement web sites, informing on another gang member is a capital offense within the gang. So why would he say anything and put his own life on the line if the statement was true? More likely he knew Gutirrez was not part of the gang and therefore he could cut a deal with the DA, make a false statement for reduced jail time and not face any gang retribution.

    I agree that once the knife was drawn the police had the right to shoot him, but I also wonder if they were following procedure when they stopped him. If the Davis police were to stop every person in Davis 15 time a certain percentage of those stops will turn bad. After one or two stops you would have many angry people. The DA’s report failed the explain the reason for the stop. I know Raven said the reason was because Bautista “thought Gutierrez might be a parole” but that is not what Bautista said. One thing is clear, Bautista should answer the question since he was driving and he was the one who stopped the car.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    David, why do you think Gutierrez ran from the cops? And why do you think he was carrying a long knife? And why do you think his friend ID’d him as a Sureno? And why do you think Gutierrez had that gang tattoo? And why do you think, after running from the cops, Gutierrez pulled out his 4″ long knife and attempted to use it on the officers who were chasing him?

    I know you don’t know all of those answers. I am interested to know what you honestly think. Because I think if you are perfectly honest with yourself, you’ll realize it’s not hard to understand what happened in this tragic event.

  7. David M. Greenwald

    Rich:

    “why do you think Gutierrez ran from the cops?”

    One possibility is that he did not know they were cops and believed he was in danger. One question that has never been answered is what reason would he have to run from the cops anyway? He had no warrants. He had not committed a crime. I think we need to explore that question.

    “And why do you think his friend ID’d him as a Sureno? “

    How do we know that Flores was his friend? He never said he was. We don’t know anything about him. His testimony to me has a lot of question marks and why didn’t the DA’s report include a broader scope of character witnesses, some of whom would have argued the opposite? To me that’s very suspect that they would include this guy who was not a direct witness but they wouldn’t include the statements of others who would have at least caste doubt on his claims.

    “And why do you think Gutierrez had that gang tattoo?”

    Three possibilities:

    1. He was a gang member
    2. He was once a gang member but no longer
    3. He was not a gang member and that tattoo wasn’t a gang tattoo

    “And why do you think, after running from the cops, Gutierrez pulled out his 4″ long knife and attempted to use it on the officers who were chasing him?”

    If he did not believe they were cops to begin with, then the answer is he was defending himself.

    I still begin with the question of what reason they had to contact him as he was walking in the middle of the day and not wearing gang clothing, everything that happened escalated from there and there was considerable discrepancies and omissions in the accounts by the officers.

    I wanted an independent investigation and all we got was the AG’s office reviewing the existing document.

  8. Alphonso

    “why do you think Gutierrez ran from the cops?” This what I think

    To start with, in the euphoria of passing the drivers test for the first time he decides to celebrate by taking a drug – a very bad idea. The drug clouded his mind and contributed to his death. I would love to see a time line from the time he left the DMV to the time the officers tried to stop him. Why is that missing from the report?

    Then there are two possibilites and we will never know the real answer.

    He did not recognize the officers as police officers and thought he was in danger so he ran and tried to defend himself. Remember one of witnesses in the DA’s report (a person driving by) did not recognize the officers as police officers. He thought Gutierrez was going to be beaten by the people in the car ( the officers). Additionally, the last person stopped by the same police officers (moments earlier) stated the officers did not identify themselves as police officers when they stopped him. If two witnesses had trouble indentifying the officers as police officers it is certainly possible that Gutierrez had the same problem and remember his mind was clouded by a drug.

    The other possibility is that he did recognize them as police officers and worried that they would detain him for drug use. Given that scenario I do not understand why he pulled out the knife.

    The bottom line is a person died and the investigation focus should be on how to prevent that from happening again. I read the DA’s report and it looks like a goundwork for a defense against a pending lawsuit. Gutierrez was a human being so figure it out!

  9. David M. Greenwald

    What people need to understand is that last week the DA’s office released a press release saying that the Attorney General’s office had reviewed the investigation and agreed with the findings.

    However what they used was the notion of abuse of discretion, which is a legal term mean “A failure to take into proper consideration the facts and law relating to a particular matter; an Arbitrary or unreasonable departure from precedent and settled judicial custom.”

    This is generally used in appellant law. “Where a trial court must exercise discretion in deciding a question, it must do so in a way that is not clearly against logic and the evidence. An improvident exercise of discretion is an error of law and grounds for reversing a decision on appeal.”

    But all that really occurs here is a review of the investigation itself to determine if the ruling is reasonable based on the facts presented.

    Thus in reviewing for abuse of discretion, there would be a problem if “the rendering of a decision by a court… is so unreasonable in light of the facts of the case or is such an unreasonable deviation from legal precedent that it must be reversed.”

    Anything that falls short of that, ends up where this one did.

    So here is the AG’s report:

    “We reviewed your decision under an abuse of discretion standard. After a complete review of all available information, we have concluded that your decision was not unreasonable and thus did not constitute an abuse of discretion.”

    What they did not do that people have called upon an independent body to do is conduct their own investigation, interview the officers and witnesses themselves, review the evidence, and produce their own unique report.

    That is what I am calling for and what the justice community is calling for.

  10. merixcoatl20

    The Investigation has a lot of gaps.

    If some people would have brandished a weapon (by lifting up their shirts) i would have ran too.

    I dont know if it is lack of racial sensitivity, or of orientation but we need to go back to the “indio gutierrez”. Indio is used in Spanish to describe someone who is of native decent (in mexico the indigenous are considered inferior to lighter skinned Latinos) Indio means dark, docile and indian–not an expert knife thrower.

    Also, I while back the WPD investigated and showed that Luis Gutierrez was not a gang member. What about that? We just ignore that? Luis lived in WPD jurisdiction.

  11. David M. Greenwald

    This is a New York Times article, granted 20 years old, but it illustrate how strong a discretionary power prosecutors have: link ([url]http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/22/us/the-law-prosecutorial-discretion-worthy-of-defense.html?pagewanted=all[/url])

    ‘Because discretion is essential to the criminal justice process, we would demand exceptionally clear proof before we would infer that the discretion has been abused,’ the Court said.

  12. Greg Sokolov

    As for an alternative view regarding the job our DA’s office is doing, I direct readers to today’s letter to the Enterprise from the sister of UC Davis student murder victim in 1980 which reads “Yolo DA stands up for victims”.

    David, why do I have the feeling that the Vanguard’s continued attacks on Yolo DA office (including this week’s prior piece by Eric Alfaro about the “big deal” about a Yolo DA prosecuting a case in Colusa) is in some way related to a possible resurrection of Pat Lenzi for DA election (in which your pal Bill Ritter ran her campaign)????

  13. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]in México the indigenous are considered inferior to lighter skinned Latinos [/quote] When I lived in México in my 20s, I was shocked at the racism I found among many educated Mexicans, particularly among “light-skinned” or “white” Mexicans toward darker-skinned Mestizos and from everyone toward full-blooded Indians. There is also prejudice against blacks and Asians, but it is different.* (If there is much anti-Semitism, I never saw it, heard it or experienced it, there.)

    Growing up in California, I’d never seen such blatant racial discrimination. There were, for example, popular night clubs which would not admit entry to anyone whose skin was dark. There were golf clubs and other private social clubs forbidden to those who are not fair-skinned. I heard stories about wealthy Mestizos denied the opportunity to purchase homes in certain neighborhoods.

    Obviously, all of those forms of racism have existed in the United States, moreso in certain parts than others. I guess to some extent racism can be universal. However, I was naive about México in that regard. I presumed a country in which most of the people were much darker than I am would be more enlightened.

    *Mexicans and Latin Americans, in general, tend to be less politically correct with their language. As such, I don’t think the terminology was meant to offend. However, I noticed everyone Asian tends to be referred to as “Chino,” regardless if they are of Chinese heritage or not. The former president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, whose parents were Japanese, was regularly referred to by mainstream newspapers as “El Chino.” It would be roughly equivalent of The Bee referring to Gov. Schwarzenegger in headlines as “The Kraut.”

  14. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]I can categorically say that Pat Lenzi now lives in Nevada and will not be running for DA. [/quote] The Davis Enterprise published a letter about 4 weeks ago by Pat Lenzi, which listed her as living in Davis. Yet you told me many months ago that Pat was living in Nevada, when I raised almost the same point that Greg Sokolov did.

    Of course, it’s irrelevant whether she is or is not a Davis resident or will or will not run again for DA. What it appears is that there is a group of people in Davis who are campaigning with the goal of defeating Jeff Reisig. In that he is an elected official, they have every right to do that. However, I find it dirty for this group to carry on this campaign in an underhanded way, without coming forward, without saying explicitly that that is what they are doing.

    Because, of course, David is tied in with all of these anti-Reisig lawyers — including Lenzi and Matt Gonzalez* and probably a half dozen others — I view with great skepticism any of these stories designed to attack the DA. It appears rather obvious to me that this is all a part of an orchestrated campaign.

    *I still don’t understand why a San Francisco attorney gets involved in so many lawsuits in Yolo County.

  15. David M. Greenwald

    Rich:

    Again, I think you are implying something that simply doesn’t exist. Why is Matt Gonzalez involved in Yolo County lawsuits? Because he’s been hired by clients to represent them. There are not a whole lot of good civil rights attorneys in the area.

    To my mind, there are a large number of issue advocacy groups, but no concerted group that has arisen to defeat Reisig. In point of fact, as of right now, there is no opponent of Reisig and there may not be one, or at least not a credible one.

    I write on this issue because it is interesting to me and I think important. People forget that civil rights issues are what got me involved in local politics to begin with.

  16. Greg Sokolov

    David:

    I found the following in an archive of Vanguard posts (from Doug Paul Davis) almost three years to the date:

    “…Now Reisig will inherit many of the problems of the Henderson office. Moreover he owes his victory to the efforts of Deputy District Attorney’s such as Patricia Fong, Clinton Parish, and Tim Wallace who are under scrutiny for misconduct in their roles in various high-profile cases. In the end, Reisig’s success and failure will rest on his ability to manage his office and in many ways clean house despite the political allegiances he owes some of those deputies. It will be a difficult and unenviable task in the coming months and the People’s Vanguard of Davis will be monitoring this office to see how they respond to what lies ahead.”

    With regards to your last line of the Vanguard “monitoring” the D.A.’s office, can you please direct me to any POSITIVE piece the Vanguard has done about the Yolo DA Jeff Reisig…how about perhaps the successful prosecution of the slain CHP officer in Yolo County, or the dentist who sexually molested his female patients in Woodland? Those cases seem to be examples of a DA doing the job he was elected for, or is your “monitoring” of his office only reserved for “hit pieces”?

  17. David M. Greenwald

    Interesting that you consider a critical article to be a hit piece. A hit piece I think would be a bit more biting against him personally. All I did here was critique his report. I find it interesting that rather than challenge my interpretations, you’ve focused on the messenger.

    In general, I have reported on controversies in Davis and Yolo County. I always joke with the school district that you know it’s not good news if I’m showing up. That’s the nature of the blog.

    It is interesting that you cited the prosecution of the slain CHP officer (or rather his killer), because I am in the process of looking into that case.

    Much as I expect the elevator to work when I step into it, I expect public officials to do their jobs and for the part when they do their jobs successfully, I don’t report on it.

    Now if I had a large staff like a newspaper, that would be a different matter. But physically, I simply do not have the time or energy to report on everything that happens and is newsworthy. That is a newspaper’s job. Again, if I eventually develop the resources to expand, the nature of the coverage will likely change.

    Occasionally I will do a positive piece and I’m sure if you look through the archives you will find some, but more often than not, I’m reporting on a controversy and if there is a positive piece it is because the controversy had a successful resolution from my perspective.

  18. Rich Rifkin

    [quote]can you please direct me to any POSITIVE piece the Vanguard has done about the Yolo DA Jeff Reisig[/quote] I don’t think a person who writes an opinion column (or a blog) has an obligation to write positive pieces or to be balanced in that sense. However, if the writer has (or the writer’s friends have) an agenda or appears to have an agenda to promote the cause of bringing down the DA, I suggest the writer be up front with that. If the writer is turning to sources who are involved in what amount to political fights with the DA — as definitely appeared to be the case with the two investigators — then I suggest the writer be up front with that. I very often get the feeling that someone is trying to pull a fast one on me with these anti-DA stories. Again, I have no problem with your being anti-Reisig. Just be straight with where these stories are originating.

    FWIW, there was a pro-Reisig letter to the Enterprise today. It said in part: [quote] We would like to offer our sincerest gratitude to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office for again representing the victims in the en banc hearing of Daniel Wehner, CDC C32069. … District Attorney Jeff Reisig has been proactive in providing information and encouragement to victims’ families. He established the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office first Lifer Unit to ensure that family members are represented at these traumatic hearings. If we had had different representation, I am certain Wehner would be free today, living in your neighborhoods, walking your streets, shopping right beside you. It’s a frightening thought. The actions and commitment of Reisig (et al.) have restored some faith in California’s justice system. … Our family is very grateful for the involvement and representation of the Yolo County district attorney. The community of Davis and the county of Yolo can rest assured that they have the highest quality personnel committed to their safety. [/quote]

  19. Siegel

    [quote]The community of Davis and the county of Yolo can rest assured that they have the highest quality personnel committed to their safety.[/quote]

    Unless of course they’re minority or falsely accused of a crime in which case Reisig and the DA’s office will trample on their liberties like theres no tomorrow!!!

  20. Rich Rifkin

    [quote] Unless of course they’re minority or falsely accused of a crime in which case Reisig and the DA’s office will trample on their liberties like theres no tomorrow!!! [/quote] What is a case in Yolo County where it has been proven that anyone, minority or otherwise, has been falsely accused of a crime and his liberties were trampled by Jeff Reisig? I don’t doubt there are such cases. District Attorneys are human and make errors in judgment now and then. But I just don’t recall anything which suggests the DA has trampled the rights of a person falsely accused. Certainly the Buzayan case, no matter where you come down on the actions of Pheng Ly, does not qualify. Maybe the Khalid Berny case does. But that was resolved before Reisig replaced Henderson as DA.

  21. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]why he was stopped when he was walking alone in the middle of the day, whether deputies identified themselves as law enforcement and he knew they were police officers,[/i]

    Either you believe the report or you don’t. If you don’t believe the report, then who knows, maybe they handcuffed him before they shot him. If you do believe the report, then it was clear to a witness who drove by in a car that they were police. Here is a standard four-step method to identify undercover officers in an unmarked police car:

    1. Badge
    2. Flashing lights
    3. Siren
    4. “Halt! Police!”

    [i]The Democrat argues that Gutierrez was not stopped based solely on his ethnicity, but given these statements and sets of facts, that seems a questionable conclusion at best.[/i]

    What should we make of it when policeman could have stopped someone solely based on his ethnicity, but happen to be correct that he’s dangerous? Swinging a knife at other people while you are high on meth is never a safe or legal activity.

  22. 3doorsdown

    Mr Rexroad, Mr Rifkin,

    I believe the officers that were involved perpetuated the need for deadly force. The same unmarked car was seen the day before in the small town of Yolo, where the occupants (sheriff gang task force) made contact with a couple of residents without first properly identifying themselves. It created a stir but worked itself out. I learned of the situation the day before the shooting.

    Mr. Gutierrez and I lived a short distance apart but were not acquainted. We passed each other on a regular basis as you do with your neighbors. I was not frightened by him nor did I hear anything that would cause concern. It is because of the two situations that I have this belief. Unfortunately the family and community will never receive an apology or acceptance of responsibility. To do so would then allow for a law suit that we cannot afford. There really is no way to make right the events of that day.

  23. Superfluous Man

    I read the entire report, which seemed amateurish and left me with more questions than answers to be honest. There weren’t any fingerprints on the knife? Did knife have a particular texture to it, which would be consistent with the lack of a finger print? DOJ analyzed the DNA swab taken from the knife and determined that it is”likely Navarro is the source of the DNA.” Well, what does that mean exactly, what percent of the population matches the DNA profile produced by the swab? Was the DNA compared to the deputies too? The knife allegedly used by Navarro had no prints and that got two sentences in the report?

    I’m not going to suggest that the DA’s Office would attempt to cover up anything, but how impartial can the investigation be when the deputies work in the same building as the deputy attorneys/DA investigators looking into their conduct? Yes, the Yolo County Gang Task Force is housed in the Yolo County DA’s Office. I’m surprised none of the articles I’ve read thus far mention this. I figured this would’ve been brought up, even for nothing more than the simple sensation of a potential conflict of interest. Also, one of the DA investigators(2 DA/1 WPD conducted the interviews) who interviewed the deputies, oversaw the the Yolo County Gang Task Force Unit prior to the SO overseeing it, which wasn’t very long ago(2007.) Did he work directly with any of these deputies while heading the Gang Task Force Unit, that’s something I would like to know. Why would Reisig select the one DA investigator who has direct ties to this unit? For the sake of seeming as impartial as possible, it would seem wise, for PR reasons alone, to select an investigator who’s far removed from that unit. I don’t enjoy playing conspiracy theorist, but it seems risky(potential for bad publicity) to pick an investigator with direct ties to the unit to interview these deputies, so why do it?

    I thought it was interesting that after he called in the incident “Deputy Bautista moved his badge from his belt to around his neck on a chain so responding units would identify him as a peace officer.” So would it not have been obvious to the first responders that Deputy Bautista was a peace officer had his badge and gun been hidden under his untucked shirt? Would simply lifting up his shirt to reveal a badge and gun suffice, I mean that can’t possibly lead to any confusion could it? Perhaps if plain clothes peace officers wore their badges around their necks or if worn on their belts required to tuck their shirt’s in when making consensual contacts, people would be less likely to mistake the officer’s identity.

    These aren’t undercover peace officers, such as some YONET or other “deep undercover” officers are, they are just plain clothes. I would like to know how having their badges and weapons out of plain sight is necessary and relevant to the type of law enforcement duties these deputies in the task force are required to carry out. Is it possible that Navarro did look at Sgt. Johnson’s waistline, saw a gun and not the badge, thus prompting him to run away and upon contact with Sgt. Johnson lunge at him with a knife as he was in fear for his own safety? Navarro has nothing in his history indicating he would have any reason or inclination to run from and assault a peace officer. Where was the badge in relation to the gun on Sgt. Johson’s belt? Isn’t that a pretty key detail to leave out when attempting to determine whether or not Navarro could clearly see Sgt. Johnson’s badge and not just his gun? The report just states that “Sgt. Johnson wore his gun and badge on the right side of his waist” and “that he always lifts up his shirt, which exposes his gun and badge, when making a consensual contact.” I don’t think the fact that he had methamphetamine in his system definitively explains why Navarro fled, the toxicology results don’t seem all that conclusive to me in determining the degree to which Navarro was impaired. Moreover, the woman from the DMV’s observations of Navarro aren’t consistent with someone who’s under the influence of methamphetamine.

    The reason why members of the community are pushing for an independent investigation is not necessarily to determine the lawfulness of the deputies shooting and killing of Navarro, but to also look into certain training methods, procedures, tactics, etc that may have escalated the incident, which in turn resulted in the seemingly lawful shooting of Navarro by the deputies. Essentially, to make sure that situations such as this one are prevented in the future. What if this entire incident could have been avoided had Sgt. Johnson worn his badge around his neck when making consensual contacts?

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