No One Saw the Shooter, So Did He Commit the Crime?

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By Elizabeth Griffiths

A drive-by shooting occurred the morning of August 31, 2016, and Christian Rizo faces various charges involving attempted murder, assault with a semi-automatic weapon and actions taken for the benefit of a criminal gang; however, no police officer saw him or the car that was responsible for the shooting.

On August 30 officers were sent to a trailer park on East Street in Woodland to investigate a homicide by a criminal street gang. Around 1:15 am on August 31 two gunshots were fired at police officers.

The People argue that Mr. Rizo was the one who had shot at the officers so that the two members of his gang, whom the officers were arresting for murder, could escape. The People claim he acted to further the activities of his gang.

The Defense states that evidence will show Mr. Rizo was involved with a gang. However, at no point did he try to kill anyone on East Street. The Defense argues that evidence will also show how the police officers who were at East Street did not see who fired the shots. The Defense also points out how the two witnesses who claim Mr. Rizo was the one who shot at the cops are the two people who are already in custody and took plea agreements to “save themselves.”

The first witness was Sergeant Frank Ritter who has been working for the Woodland Police Department for about 18 years. He recalled that on August 30, 2016, the initial call was for a fight that involved knives and a possible stabbing.

Around 1:15 am on August 31, 2016, Sgt. Ritter said he saw a vehicle by the intersection by East Street and then saw it travel northbound on East Street. He claimed his view of the car was obstructed because of a building, but he said it was the only vehicle on East Street, which is why he was watching the car in the first place.

Sgt. Ritter then heard a minimum of two gunshots and saw two muzzle flashes. After the gunshots, Ritter assessed whether or not anyone had been hurt, then noticed that there was a hole in his vehicle from the bullet. However, he said he was unable to identify the car the gunshots came from because of the obstruction of the trees and building.

About 45 minutes after the first shooting he heard more than three gunshots. Sergeant Ritter had four years of military experience before working for the Woodland Police Department, thus he was able to believe that the gun used in these shootings was a semi-automatic.

The second witness called to stand was Officer David Shepard. On August 30, 2016, he was called to assist in responding to the stabbing incident at the trailer park on East Street because he had a K-9. Around 1:15 am he heard two gunshots coming from East Street. He had not heard anything on East Street before the shooting. Officer Shepard also did not hear the bullet hit the Sergeant Ritter’s vehicle, even though he was standing relatively close to Ritter and his truck.

The People v. Rizo trial will resume Monday morning at 8:30 am in Department 14.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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