More Evidence Emerges To Substantiate Charges Against Sheriff’s Deputies

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young_witness

While Yolo County Sheriff Prieto on Tuesday once again expressed skepticism about the girl’s claims, telling the Sacramento Bee, “I doubt seriously whether anybody put a gun to this young girl’s head…  It’s common sense: Do you really think a policeman would perceive a 9-year-old girl as a threat?”  New evidence emerges that leads to a very different conclusion.

The Vanguard has obtained the emergency room report from the family of now 10 year old Cristal Ochoa, it shows that the family had to pay more than $3000 for the visit.  Given the family’s lack of insurance and lack of means, is it lnot ogical that the family would incur those expenses if the charges were not true?

 

The ER report shows that Santiago Ochoa took his daughter into the emergency room on the evening of June 25, 2009.  That is two weeks after police had raided their home on June 11.  Mr. Ochoa confirmed with the Vanguard that this was the same day he brought his daughter to the Sheriff’s department where they made an oral complaint and requested assistance for his daughter.
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The ER report shows that at that time they mentioned that “there were some cops at home who showed a gun” and “since then, the patient is not eating or drinking and she is upset.”

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Examination showed that the patient was suffering from “acute dehydration and vomiting.”  Moreover she had an abnormally high blood count (leukocytosis which is a high white blood cell count).  She was given IV fluids and some medicine and left feeling better.

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The family did not have medical insurance and thus had to bear the three thousand dollar costs of treatment, which was reduced from $4000 due to them not having medical insurance.  For a family without great means, this is a tremendous expense that they would not have gone through without a deep concern for their daughter’s health.

While none of this proves their charges, it does provide some validity to their claims about the severity of their daughter’s reaction to the situation.  It shows that even eight months ago they were making similar claims about the police causing their daughter’s condition.

As the Vanguard has previously reported, Cristal’s condition remains to this day.  Her school work has suffered and the school is recommending that she get counseling, but unfortunately the family lacks the means to pay for that counseling.  Community members are now looking into ways that she can get the help that she needs.

Why Did the Sheriff’s Deputies Raid the Ochoa Home To Begin With?

What has not been clear until now is why the Sheriff’s Deputies raided the Ochoa home to begin with.  Mr. Ochoa has never been charged with or convicted of any crime, however police that day were looking for weapons as part of charges that were filed against his son, Santiago Rodriguez Ochoa, Jr.

Deputies were looking for gang paraphernalia, weapons, among other evidence against Ochoa Jr., 19, who was charged with committing a gang-related drive-by shooting and arraigned on June 16, 2009.  Ochoa Jr. was acquitted on all charges on December 8, 2009.

This was a strange case that was tried in Colusa County but prosecuted by Yolo County’s District Attorney’s Office.  The Vanguard previously reported on this case back on December 1, 2009

Records reveal that Mr. Ochoa, Jr was charged with two counts of assault with a firearm, shooting at a vehicle and brandishing a gun at a person or vehicle as well as four gang enhancements. 

Prosecutors had originally believed that the crime occurred in Dunnigan, which is in Yolo County, however there was confusion as to where the alleged crime took place.  This was due in part to one of the victim’s reports which had a variety of inconsistencies.  Detectives never could recreate the original crime scene and later concluded that it had occurred in Arbuckle, in Colusa County.

Prosecutors claimed that Ochoa Jr. was a member of the Sureno criminal gang.  He was alleged to have gotten into an argument with a longtime gang-rival according to Yolo County prosecutor Garett Hamilton.  Mr. Ochoa was said to be a passenger in a vehicle and to have fired multiple rounds into another vehicle with rival gang members. 

Investigators apparently found a gun that matched the description of the one used, but could not provide proof that it was the weapon in question.

The jury apparently did not make the connection between Mr. Ochoa and the shooting.

But Ochoa Jr. in the Sacramento Bee tells a different story.  He denied that he has ever belonged to a gang and said that the story was concocted by a romantic rival and his ex-girlfriend, who later testified that she had lied.

The six day trial ended in an acquittal on all counts.

Mr. Hamilton called the verdict, “disappointing” and said at the time:

“I think it’s a sad day for residents in both Yolo and Colusa counties.”

The search warrant did produce a gun, but Mr. Ochoa Sr said it was his gun and it could not be connected to the crime – if a crime in fact had even occurred.

The end result of all of this is that Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputies executed a search warrant looking for Ochoa Jr. and weapons, but in the process of searching the home, they put a gun to young Cristal Ochoa’s head.  This caused her to suffer from what is likely post traumatic stress disorder.  Mr. Ochoa Jr. was acquitted in his trial as it seems likely that the story was concocted by his romantic rival (rather than a gang rival).

Meanwhile Sheriff Prieto has ordered an investigation on an incident that he doubts occurred despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Brian Vu contributed to this report

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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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33 thoughts on “More Evidence Emerges To Substantiate Charges Against Sheriff’s Deputies”

  1. PatLenzi

    Was there followup the next day regarding the white cell count? Has she been seen by medical or counseling professionals since that ER visit? This is very sad. It does lend some credence to her claims if there was no underlying medical reason for her symptoms. I wish there was some way to provide her counseling regardless of the cause of the symptoms she is experiencing.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    Pat:

    The family reported that she began vomiting when they put the gun to her head and she did not stop vomiting. I do not know if there was follow up with medical professionals, part of the problem as you can see was the cost just for that visit.

  3. SueChan

    Just want to mention that an elevated white cell count can be caused by stress, not just an infection. It would be good to have some follow-up tests to see if the stress is leading to health issues or treat her if she did indeed have a primary infection of some sort. I wouldn’t be surprised if the county won’t spring for the care because that would imply they are assuming responsibility for her condition. Isn’t it sad that a child could go without the attention she needs because people are afraid of lawsuits?

    On another note, why should it cost a family $4000 to have someone feel a child’s belly, give her fluids and write some notes on a piece of paper? And hearing all this poor family has suffered, why is the Truth so elusive in our “justice system?” But that’s another rant… 🙂

  4. Greg Kuperberg

    Two weeks — that detail is news to me.

    One theory is that the police with their “Gestapo” tactics terrified the Ochoas to such a degree that the girl threw up for two weeks. When they finally took her to the hospital, her white blood cell count was elevated from the trauma of having a gun pointed at her head.

    Another theory is that she had stomach flu two weeks after the police raid. Then, resentful that their son had been arrested and charged with felonies, and less than thrilled with a $3,000 hospital bill, the family decided that the police had made their daughter sick.

    I don’t want to accuse the Ochoa family of lying. But I also don’t want to accuse the police officers of lying. Both sides deserve due process. There are ways to collect more evidence to help resolve the matter.

  5. merixcoatl20

    [quote]
    I don’t want to accuse the Ochoa family of lying. But I also don’t want to accuse the police officers of lying. Both sides deserve due process. There are ways to collect more evidence to help resolve the matter.[/quote]

    Lets examine this double standard. Sheriff Ed Prieto came on KCRA and basically said that no one should believe the ochoa family and nine year old girl without an investigation.

    If you recall, when Luis Gutierrez was first killed-sheriff Ed Prieto declared Gutierrez was a gang member; without consulting with the officers involved: i.e without an investigation.

    Sheriff Ed Prieto has proven himself, more than once, to be a very misleading and sloppy Sheriff.

    This is my theory:

    The Yolo Gang Task Force has been going around Yolo County being “cowboys”. The D.A and Task force try to convict the Ochoa son.

    When the family refuses to take the plea bargain, and instead hire a good attorney to challenge the Yolo County Gang task force—the Sheriff takes it personal.

    The D.A follows ochoa to Colusa county, determined to settle the grudge.

    When they fail, the ochoa sons turns out to be innocent– its an embarrassment for the Yolo County Gang Task Force, Ed Prieto and Jeff Reisig.

    The little girl is a victim of the coercion tactics used by Sheriff Ed Prieto and Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    Greg: While Prieto says he doubts it, he never said it didn’t happen, so at this point, I don’t think it’s an either one side or the other side is lying. It may come to that, but I suspect it won’t.

  7. David M. Greenwald

    Got some good news, I have had a ton of emails, facebook messages, and communications about this, so I will post it, it looks like the Mexican consulate is going find a way to help Cristal Ochoa.

  8. Greg Kuperberg

    David, it’s fine to argue that we should wait and see what the investigation says. What is not so good is the way that you are stirring up this story against the deputies and in favor of strained logic. For instance you say:

    [i]Given the family’s lack of insurance and lack of means, is it logical that the family would incur those expenses if the charges were not true?[/i]

    The problem with this question is the way that you leap from “Cristal Ochoa was sick at the hospital” to “why would she be there if the police didn’t put a gun to her head”. I have been to a hospital with vomiting and dehydration, and it wasn’t because anyone put a gun to my head.

    On the contrary, if people have a $3K medical bill that they can’t afford, they might hope that they can get someone else to pay it. Lots of people run to the hospital first and try to figure out a financial solution later.

  9. David M. Greenwald

    I’m decidedly not arguing that we should wait and see. What I am saying is that Prieto never denied it happened nor has anyone from his department denied it happened. You claimed that one side had to be lying, I’m saying that may not be the case.

  10. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]I’m decidedly not arguing that we should wait and see.[/i]

    You’re not? Surely it would be wise, when people make huge accusations, to wait for an investigation and see.

    If we do wait and see, then I suppose that yeah, possibly the deputies will agree that they put a gun to her head.

  11. Alphonso

    “You’re not? Surely it would be wise, when people make huge accusations, to wait for an investigation and see. “

    The concept is good, but I’ll point out the police and DA rarely ever follow that practice.

  12. indigorocks

    Sorry but I’m going to side with the cops here. I’m sick of us standing up for criminals. Stop getting in the way of cops protecting us. I don’t believe the little girl and I don’t believe the family.
    There’s always Mexico. They came here cause there’s a better way of life and better justice. They are taking advantage of America’s laws and liberties.
    If they don’t like it, there’s always home..Mexico.

  13. David M. Greenwald

    What criminal? Indigo, what criminal? Mr. Ochoa and his family committed no crime and son was acquitted. So again, what criminal are we standing up for?

  14. indigorocks

    “Another theory is that she had stomach flu two weeks after the police raid. Then, resentful that their son had been arrested and charged with felonies, and less than thrilled with a $3,000 hospital bill, the family decided that the police had made their daughter sick.”

    Greg I agree with this statement whole heartedly. Trauma doesn’t elevate your blood count like that. She’s lying and the family is trying to make some money out of the situation.
    I’m glad the Mexican consulate is coming in and actually taking care of their own people. It’s about time.

  15. David M. Greenwald

    “Trauma doesn’t elevate your blood count like that. She’s lying and the family is trying to make some money out of the situation.”

    Now you’re a doctor?

    “An elevated number of white blood cells is called leukocytosis. This can result from bacterial infections, inflammation, leukemia, trauma, intense exercise, or stress. “

    Source: click here ([url]http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/wbc/test.html[/url])

  16. indigorocks

    Right David. Any one of those can cause leukocytosis, including bacterial infections, inflammation, leukemia, trauma, intense excercise or stress.

    any ONE of those things can cause her illness. I don’t believe that the officer pointed the gun at her. The family are opportunists and she’s lying. She may have interpreted it that way, but even if it did happen, I find it hard to believe that it would cause such trauma as to cause leukocytosis. Kids go through so much worse every day and they don’t get leukocytosis. Some do some don’t, but you’re assuming that it was the stress, when it could have been any one of those things.
    She was probably already sick and this could have exacerbated the situation.
    If the family is so traumatized, they could always go back to their homeland and get free medical care over there, where kids are shot every day, and corruption is way worse than here. Drugs and guns rule certain parts of mexico and we all know how strong the drug cartel is over there.

    we need to stop the influx of drugs and crime into this country and we need to be tough on crime and criminals, whether they are mexican or not.
    i wasn’t there so i can’t speak on it. neither were you. i’ll make my assumption, you make yours.
    we’ll agree to disagree, but quite frankly David, I’m sick and tired of hearing you stand up for criminals left right and center claiming that it’s racism.
    this is a tactic used by criminals far and wide to continue doing their crimes. civil liberty thumpers make it so much harder for law enforcement to keep America safe and keep it from becoming like mexico, where there is crime and corruption galore.
    sorry…think what you like, but it’s the truth.
    there are many opportunists that come to this country and try to get in on money and take advantage of the system. some are in need, most are just here to take advantage of our many free things, and when they get caught out, they cry Discrimination.
    i understand you want to stand up for what’s right and for justice and you are right sometimes, but it’s going too far, and you are being used.

  17. indigorocks

    The search warrant did produce a gun, but Mr. Ochoa Sr said it was his gun and it could not be connected to the crime – if a crime in fact had even occurred.

    Mr. Ochoa Sr. is lying for his son. He’s trying to sue the sherrif’s dept. and claim to being a victim. If you can’t see just how obvious this is, then David, if you hate Americans and the justice system so much then perhaps you too should jump ship and go to Mexico.

    Civil liberties are violated there on a daily basis, and I’m sure your services are needed over there. Yes there is corruption in Yolo county, but not nearly as bad as Mexico. There are checks and balances over here and the cops are held to a very high professional standard. This doesn’t mean they should get to do whatever they want, but people like the Ochoa’s make it harder to root out and find the legitimate claims against the real injustices.
    I hope they dismiss the Ochoa’s case entirely. this whole shenanigan is getting ridiculous and you’re just dragging it along taking away the rights of American citizens and law enforcement to protect the law abiding citizens.

  18. indigorocks

    oh yes and trust me, don’t think that once mexicans get here and get into power that they don’t discriminate and retaliate against whites and blacks. they do, they have so they don’t get to shout out against being discriminated against, when they do the very same thing to others.

  19. David M. Greenwald

    “The search warrant did produce a gun, but Mr. Ochoa Sr said it was his gun and it could not be connected to the crime – if a crime in fact had even occurred.”

    They were not able to forensically link the gun to the crime, plus the girl broke down on the stand and confessed that they made the whole thing up. The son was then acquitted on all charges. Please stop, because you do not even seem to understand the facts here.

    “He’s trying to sue the sherrif’s dept. and claim to being a victim”

    Then where’s the lawsuit? He hasn’t even hired a lawyer and it’s eight months after the incident.

  20. David M. Greenwald

    “Right David. Any one of those can cause leukocytosis, including bacterial infections, inflammation, leukemia, trauma, intense excercise or stress.”

    That’s correct but here’s what you said:

    “Trauma doesn’t elevate your blood count like that. “

    I just proved your statement wrong.

  21. indigorocks

    as far as the acquital is concerned, i don’t know the details of the case, but this isn’t the first time a jury has been wrong. if the cops foiled, then they foiled, but for you to drag this along and make a huge scandal out of it at their expense is going, if only going to make matters worse.
    cops aren’t perfect, they are charged with a hard job, and perhaps you should become a cop before you decide just how awful they are. there are bad cops and good cops, but for the most part, they are good and are trying to just do their JOBS. let them do their jobs. you’re making it only harder for them by dragging their names through the dirt and by trying your hardest to embarass them and make them look like incompetent over zealous racists.
    let this one go David. it’s not worth it!!!

  22. David M. Greenwald

    You’re right you don’t know the details of the case, and it’s hard for the jury to make a mistake when the key witness breaks down on the stand.

    It makes it a lot harder for honest police officers to have to deal with this level of incompetence.

    Unfortunately we don’t have to go to Mexico to find such examples.

    And yes, this is very much worth it. Decent people who are not criminals are having their lives turned upside down by this.

  23. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]the girl broke down on the stand and confessed that they made the whole thing up. The son was then acquitted on all charges.[/i]

    Now wait a minute. This is a completely different explanation of why Santiago Jr. was acquitted than the one reported in the Colusa Sun Herald ([url]http://www.colusa-sun-herald.com/news/county-3956-shooting-hamilton.html[/url]). That report said that the prosecution failed to prove X, Y, and Z; it didn’t remotely say that the main witness made up the story.

  24. rmagon1910

    indigorocks,
    You must be insane or just a Mexican hating racist. I suggest you go back to the land where your illegal ancestors came from. You are a menace to society

  25. Double Bogey

    The medical report states that the police “showed a gun”…that is quite a bit different than “held gun to her temple” I would imagine, that if the girl or her family told the ER that she had a gun pressed to her temple the medical report would reflect that.

    Also, the copy of the bill shows the amount owed…this is not proff that the family is out any money, as the bill may still be outstanding.

  26. Alphonso

    “The medical report states that the police “showed a gun”…that is quite a bit different than “held gun to her temple” I would imagine, that if the girl or her family told the ER that she had a gun pressed to her temple the medical report would reflect that. “

    Sounds like speculation. The only thing we know for certain is that the girl got sick (sounds like a panic attack) and it had something to do with a police gun. The family has brought it up at least three times – at the ER, at the Sheriffs dept and at the recent hearing. I don’t understand why any police officer would have a drawn weapon anywhere near a 9 year old child in the situation described. The reason the officers went to the house was to collect evidence. Why did they have to terrorize the family? This reminds me of the incident involving the pumpkin patch farmer – the DA’s staff and sheriffs officers raided the farm with drawn guns over possible building code violations.

  27. Double Bogey

    Sounds like speculation. The only thing we know for certain is that the girl got sick (sounds like a panic attack) and it had something to do with a police gun. The family has brought it up at least three times – at the ER, at the Sheriffs dept and at the recent hearing. I don’t understand why any police officer would have a drawn weapon anywhere near a 9 year old child in the situation described. The reason the officers went to the house was to collect evidence. Why did they have to terrorize the family? This reminds me of the incident involving the pumpkin patch farmer – the DA’s staff and sheriffs officers raided the farm with drawn guns over possible building code violations

    The deputies were serving a search warrant in relation to a gang related drive-by shooting. You can’t understand why they would have firearms ready until they knew the house was clear of danger? As far as the raid on the pumpkin patch…that reminds me of the murder of the three FDA Agents in San Leandro some years ago…they were serving violation notices on a sausage company and the owner killed all three, if I recall. My point is, they can not be too safe.

  28. Greg Kuperberg

    [i]I don’t understand why any police officer would have a drawn weapon anywhere near a 9 year old child in the situation described.[/i]

    If this is meant as a comment on the police’s account of the incident, then you’re overlooking the obvious. They entered with their guns drawn because they were investigating a shooting. If you go to the home of a shooting suspect with a search warrant, it doesn’t take any imagination to realize what can go wrong.

    Besides, if the girl is really so fragile that she can be mentally scarred for life by seeing a gun drawn, then her dad shouldn’t keep guns at home. Keeping guns at home is a much bigger safety risk to 9-year-olds than the police are. Hundreds of 9-year-olds have been killed with guns kept at home, but I’ve never heard of police shooting a 9-year-old.

  29. David M. Greenwald

    The thing is Greg, even Sheriff Prieto acknowlegdes if it did happen, it’s a problem.

    On KCRA he said:

    “I would hate to think, I would hate to think that Mr. [Santiago] Ochoa’s complaints were legitimate, especially, especially the one that he alleges that an officer put a gun to his daughter’s head, I would find that extraordinarily disturbing. In all honesty, I cannot believe an officer doing that.”

    In the Enterprise he said: ‘There’s absolutely no way I would accept that type of behavior.’

    Now of course Prieto doubts it happens, but he believes if it did happen, it’s very bad.

  30. Double Bogey

    The thing is Greg, even Sheriff Prieto acknowlegdes if it did happen, it’s a problem.

    Mr. Greenwald:

    Do you not see the difference between officers entering the home with guns drawn due to the medium-high risk search warrant they were serving versus the allegation that officers held a gun to the head of a 9 year old? I took Prieto’s remarks to mean that if the allegations of the officer holding the gun to the 9 year olds head proved to be true than the officers involved would be wrong.

  31. David M. Greenwald

    “I took Prieto’s remarks to mean that if the allegations of the officer holding the gun to the 9 year olds head proved to be true than the officers involved would be wrong. “

    That’s how I took it to mean as well. Sorry if that wasn’t clear in my previous post.

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