On Monday, the family of Michael Barrera met with the Vanguard and took to the streets, wanting answers about the incident that took place on February 8 that left the 30-year-old father dead.
The family has said: “We have been told lie after lie, they have lied to our community, and they are covering something up. At this point we have been told numerous different versions of the story and lies from WPD and Yolo County Sheriff’s Dept.”
The family called for an independent investigation into the incident. On Wednesday of this week, the Vanguard called on the Attorney General’s office or another independent investigator to examine this case.
The city of Woodland has clearly heard these concerns.
In a lengthy release from the city, they noted, “We are committed to serving the City of Woodland with the highest degree of integrity. This necessitates taking every step to ensure that such incidents are evaluated through a process that is thorough and objective, and that the results are vetted in a transparent manner, with concurrence from other law enforcement agencies.”
They write, “To this end, and consistent with best practices, we are prepared to request a review of the investigation by additional law enforcement agencies, as necessary, to ensure that the facts surrounding this incident are independently validated.”
In a statement to the Vanguard, Woodland Mayor Angel Barajas wrote, “I send my sincere condolences to the Barrera family and all those impacted by this tragic incident. We remain committed to an open and transparent process for all involved.
“In order to preserve community and police trust, a secondary review process will be an option upon request for any tragedy like this that occurs in our community,” he said. “We ask that community members come together during this difficult time and allow the process to be completed before having any preconceived notions against our officers or city representatives.”
Here is the full text of the statement from the city of Woodland:
As has been widely reported, Woodland resident Michael Barrera died during an interaction with Woodland Police Officers on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 8th.
The City offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Barrera as they process the emotional trauma of the loss of a loved one. We also understand that the circumstances that led to Mr. Barrera’s passing may raise concerns and questions regarding police officer actions when they are called upon to protect public safety.
The City of Woodland takes very seriously the responsibility to protect and serve our community, while at the same time respecting the rights and privileges of all our residents. For this reason, the City has in place specific protocols and procedures, which are consistent with measures followed by all law enforcement agencies in our County, to ensure that all officer-involved violent incidents are fully-investigated, and that all actions and conduct are evaluated not only with respect to applicable laws, but also with regard to appropriate conduct expected of Woodland Police Officers.
Pursuant to these existing protocols, the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into the incident. Concurrently, the Woodland Police Department is undertaking an internal investigation to evaluate the incident under applicable department policies and guidelines, consistent with the law enforcement and crisis management training undertaken by our officers.
As always, the City of Woodland is committed to supporting the objective and independent investigation of officer-involved incidents. To this end, and consistent with best practices, we are prepared to request a review of the investigation by additional law enforcement agencies, as necessary, to ensure that the facts surrounding this incident are independently validated.
Our goal is not only to ascertain the facts surrounding this incident, but also to do so in a manner that instills confidence in the process and supports the need to build trust between the community and the Woodland Police Department.
We are committed to serving the City of Woodland with the highest degree of integrity. This necessitates taking every step to ensure that such incidents are evaluated through a process that is thorough and objective, and that the results are vetted in a transparent manner, with concurrence from other law enforcement agencies.
The City of Woodland has enjoyed a strong positive relationship with our residents, we take very seriously our role in earning the public’s trust and confidence, day in and day out. In fact, the men and women of the Woodland Police Department cannot do their jobs – protecting and serving our community – without the strong partnership they have forged with our residents and business, in every corner and neighborhood of our city.
—David M. Greenwald reporting