By David M. Greenwald
San Jose, CA – On Thursday, the Silicon Valley De-Bug released a letter detailing District Attorney Jeff Rosen copy-and-pasting the same text in multiple reports of police officers fatally shooting people in Santa Clara County.
“We — the families of those killed by law enforcement, the supporting community, and those who have called for justice for our loved ones from the streets of Santa Clara County — are writing to you with deep dismay and anger,” the letter signed by 11 families and Silicon Valley De-Bug reads.
The letter continues, “As families impacted by police violence, we do not trust the integrity and impartiality of the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office in reviewing the actions of officers involved in our loved one’s murders.”
In reviewing officer-involved shooting reports issued by DA Rosen and his office, “In the course of reviewing these reports, we have discovered shockingly a copy and paste job justification of officers’ actions.”
For example, “As we were reading the Report on the Fatal Shooting of Richard Jacquez on August 17, 2015, the following paragraph appears on page 30. However, instead of referring to Mr. Jacquez, it referenced Mr. Antonio Guzman Lopez as the subject. Mr. Guzman Lopez was killed by San Jose State police officers on February 21, 2014 and your office justified the shooting of Mr. Guzman Lopez per the report you issued on March 27, 2015.”
The text of that letter:
The test for determining whether a homicide was justifiable under Penal Code section 196 is whether the circumstances reasonably created a fear of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or to another. (Martinez v. County of Los Angeles (1996) 47 Cal. App. 4th 334,349.) Officers may reasonably use deadly force when they confront an armed suspect in close proximity whose actions indicate intent to attack. (Id. at 345.) In such circumstances, the courts cannot ask an officer to hold fire in order to ascertain whether the Guzman-Lopez will, in fact, injure or murder the officer. (Ibid.) A peace officer does not have to wait until a gun is pointed at the officer before the officer is entitled to take action. An officer is entitled to use deadly force when the officer has reason to believe the Guzman-Lopez is armed, even if the officer cannot confirm that the Guzman-Lopez is actually armed. (Anderson v. Russell (2001 ) 247 F .3d I25 , 129, l3l .)
They write: “The reference to Mr. Jacquez did not pertain to a case citation – but rather, it was a cut and paste job from page 43 of the original report on the fatal shooting of Antonio Guzman Lopez. Mr. Jacquez’s report was submitted by Deputy District Attorney Lance Daugherty and signed by you.”
They continue, “As families who lost loved ones to police violence, we already feel the pain of the sudden and violent loss of our loved ones.”
They believe, “We rarely get the truth as to how the last moments of our loved ones transpired.
“Already, the reports your office has produced confirm how even in death, our loved ones and those of us left behind cannot further get any accountability.”
“In reading your reports,” they continue, “we have found a pattern of your office solely relying on the information given to you by the officers involved. What was glaringly clear was that the word of the officers as unquestionably true was taken as the starting point of any analysis as to whether the deadly use of force was justified.”
They argue, “This word was untouchable, not interrogated, and went unchallenged. Civilian witnesses are routinely dismissed and disregarded when their testimony is at odds with the officers.”
The families called for “a re-investigation into our loved ones’ deaths in the hands of law enforcement” as they “do not have any faith in the integrity of your office when it comes to holding police accountable.”
In response, Sajid Khan, candidate for Santa Clara County District Attorney said, “The victims of police shootings and their families deserve justice – not copy-and-pasted justifications of police officers killing our fellow residents of Santa Clara County.”
Khan continued, “This type of carelessness demeans their lives, and exemplifies the inhumanity of Jeff Rosen and his tenure as district attorney. It also exhibits the failure of Mr. Rosen, whose campaign is backed and funded by police unions, to hold law enforcement accountable when they break the law. This is why I’m running for DA – to usher in a new era of justice and accountability in the South Bay.”