Police Reform – Oxnard

 

 

By Armando Vazquez

POLICE REFORM IN OXNARD BEGIN WITH A RESIDENTS POLICE REVIEW BOARD (KNOW YOUR OXNARD POLICE DEPARTMENT HISTORY, IT CAN BE DEADLY, AND TRAGICALLY MOST OF THE VIOLENCE AND KILLING DISCRIBED BELOW COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED)    (Part 1)                                                                                                                                         

The United States of American has two Holy Grails currently under fierce and historical scrutiny; Money (Capitalism& Materialism) and the Police (the agents of the state that safeguard the money and material for the elite). So it come as no surprise to any of us that have been working for a community police review board that would ostensibly control administrative management,  transparency and accountability of the Oxnard Police Department (OPD). Every police department in American has to have these community demands in place and operational before they can even begin to call themselves progressive and community based. Any department like the Oxnard Police Department that currently rejected the idea of a community review board is just sending out the foxes to the proverbial henhouse. The OPD can never be the vigilant and objective community “watchdog”, that notion is quite simply illogical, dangerous, selective basis and often violent and deadly! Let me provide you some examples of the out of control “fox’ like behavior of the OPD in the past 25 year.

  1. Martinez vs City of Oxnard (Supreme Court Ruling): On November 28, 1997, police officers Maria Pena and Andrew Salinas were investigating narcotics activity near a vacant lot in a residential area of Oxnard, California. While questioning one individual, they heard a bicycle approaching on the darkened path that traversed the lot. Officer Salinas ordered the rider, Oliverio Martinez, to stop, dismount, spread his legs, and place his hands behind his head. Martinez complied. According to official court transcripts Martinez complied with the initial orders to stop and dismount the bike. Seconds later all hell broke loose according to the cops, and Martinez lay on the ground dying with five bullets holes in his body. One of the bullets struck Martinez in the left eye exploding the optic nerve and the surrounding delicate tissue in and around the left eye socket; another bullet ripped through his torso and spinal cord fracturing a vertebrae, instantly paralyzing Martinez. Three more bullets ripped into Martinez’s legs. According to court records Sargent Chavez, jumped into the ambulance as it drove to the nearest hospital in the area. When the ambulance arrived Chavez followed the paramedics as they wheeled Martinez into the emergency room. As the emergency room doctors and nurses attempted to stabilize and prepare Martinez for immediate lifesaving surgery Chavez continued with his interrogation. Sargent Chavez was oblivious to medical staff’s commands to leave the ER area. Chavez neglected to recite or attempt to explain the Miranda rights to Martinez, who by this time according to court records continued drifting in and out of consciousness. Fighting for his life Martinez was interrogated for over 45 minutes in the emergency room by Chavez.                                                                                     

    The Supreme Court would rule since Martinez was not a suspect, never charged with a crime, or arrested for a crime he was free to be tortured and interrogated by Chavez Any and all  constitutional protections Martinez had while he was fight for his life were completely ignored and violated by Chavez and upheld by the outrageous Supreme Court ruling. This Supreme Court ruling, more than any other judicial decision give the cops of American, OPD cops included, the total  and unrestricted power to profile, stop and harasses anyone at any time for “probable cause” with total impunity, and so they do!.  (Source Court Listener, October 30, 2001, Oliverio Martinez vs Chavez and the City of Oxnard)
  2. Oxnard police fatally shot more people in the first eight months of 2001 than peace officers in many U.S. states and major American cities kill in an entire year, a Los Angeles Times analysis of figures showed. Oxnard’s five police homicides that year equal the number reported since January by the Los Angeles Police Department, whose jurisdiction is 22 times larger than the 170,000-resident Ventura County city. Among California’s major cities, spokesmen said homicides by police that year total zero for San Jose, two in San Francisco and six in San Diego. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had recorded eight. Only 16 states reported more than five police homicides for 1999, the last year for which the FBI reported justified killings by officers. Ten had no fatal shootings by police and seven reported only one. (Source Daryl Kelly, Los Angeles Time, September 9, 2001).
  3. The OPD king of Meagan Hockaday: On March 28th, 2015, Oxnard police officer Roger Garcia killed 26-year old resident Meagan Marie Hockaday, within 20 seconds into the tragic and deadly encounter with her. How can a cop possibly escalate to the use of deadly force protocol 20 second into confronting (?) shooting and killing Meagan? Ms Meagan Hockaday was a 26-year-old African American resident of Oxnard, California who was shot and killed by police officer Roger Garciain the early hours of Saturday, March 28, 2015. Garcia responded to a 911 call made by Hockaday’s fiancé, Luis Morado, reporting a domestic dispute at The Timbers, an apartment complex in Oxnard. Meagen Hockaday, it was reported, has a history of mental illness. (Source Todo Poder Al Pueblo, Wikipedia)
  4. The OPD killing of Alfonso Limon Jr., Jose Zepeda (Justin Villa, Rafael Hernandez involved):


The Garfield Street, Oxnard, Officer-Involved Shootings of Alfonso Limon, Jr., Jose Zepeda, and Justin Villa (Rafael Hernandez the driver of auto arrested at scene) occurred on October, 2012. Cops attempted a traffic stop led to a vehicle pursuit and, ultimately, a multiple officer-involved shooting by the Oxnard Police Department (“OPD”). One suspect, Jose Zepeda was killed, and a second, Justin Villa was wounded before being taken into custody. A third man, Alfonso Limon, completely innocent and uninvolved in the earlier activity, was also fatally shot by OPD officers.

On October 13, 2012, at approximately 10:08 p.m., two officers from the Oxnard Police Department (OPD) attempted to pull over a car for failing to stop at a stop sign. The car’s driver was an individual later identified as Rafael Hernandez. There were also two passengers: one in the front seat later identified as Justin Villa, and one in the back later identified as Jose Zepeda. Their car seemed to yield, but then drove away as the two officers got out of their patrol car. This prompted the officers to get back in their car in order to follow; after a brief time, the vehicle driven by Mr. Hernandez again stopped.

The two officers again exited their car, and an eleven minute standoff ensued as the three men largely ignored commands from the officers to place their hands up and get out of the suspect vehicle. Expedited back up was requested over the radio, and additional OPD officers and two sergeants responded to the location. Shortly before the car stop, OPD officers were informed via radio that nearby a citizen had reported to police that a man in a gray sweatshirt had been observed brandishing a gun and police officers were dispatched to that location. One of those officers ended up responding to and being involved in the officer-involved shooting.

Eventually, Mr. Hernandez started his car and sped away, followed by numerous OPD officers in multiple patrol vehicles. Mr. Hernandez then abruptly stopped the car on Garfield Street, at which point passengers Villa and Zepeda both got out and began to run. As Mr. Zepeda ran away, he fired one round at pursuing OPD officers. OPD officers returned fire, striking Mr. Villa and possibly striking Mr. Zepeda. As additional OPD officers arrived on scene, Mr. Zepeda continued to engage with officers by firing three more rounds. Nine OPD officers responded to the location and used deadly force. This resulted in the death of Mr. Zepeda, as well as that of Alfonso Limon who was mistakenly identified by officers as one of the suspects.

Mr. Limon had simply been walking on Garfield Street with his brother when Zepeda ran by him and police officers advanced, with some of them eventually training and firing their weapons at him. Mr. Villa was later discovered in a nearby shed and a law enforcement K-9 was used to take him into custody. Mr. Villa’s injuries included a gunshot wound to the knee as well as K-9 bites, and he was transported to the hospital. 4 The driver, Mr. Hernandez, had remained in the suspect car and was taken into custody without further incident. The autopsies found that Mr. Limon suffered 22 gunshot wounds from 15-21 gunshots, while Mr. Zepeda suffered seven wounds from 5-6 gunshots.2 The investigation found that a total of nine OPD officers had collectively fired between 69-70 rounds, 3 with some officers firing pistols, others rifles, one a shotgun, and one firing both a rifle and a pistol. The breakdown for rounds fired by officer is as follows: Officer 1: 19 rounds Officer 2: 18 rounds Officer 3: 11 rounds (two pistol, nine rifle) Officer 4: 6-7 rounds (rifle) Officer 5: 6 rounds Officer 6: 4 rounds Officer 7: 2 rounds Officer 8: 2 rounds (shotgun) Officer 9: 1 round. (Source OIR Group, February, 2017)

 

  1. The OPD killing of Robert Ramirez: On June 23, 2012, Robert Ramirez died in OPD custody during an acute medical emergency caused by the ingestion of methamphetamines in what the County Medical Examiner later determined to be a homicide caused by “Asphyxia from Active Prone Restraint, THE I CAN’T BREATHE KIND OF KILLING BY COPS.” Witness testimony at the time made clear that the cause of Robert’s death was the violent intervention of 7 Oxnard Police officers. (Source, Todo Poder al Pueblo and The Star).
  2. The OPD killing of Michael Mahoney: Michael Mahoney suffered from chronic mental illness, The Oxnard Police Department knew all about Michael Mahoney acute and chronic mental illness, as they had been summoned to his residence on H Street many times. On the day of Michael Mahoney killing the cops had received a call that a man with a gun was seen. When the cops arrived at the scene Mahoney had gone inside of his house. When Mahoney exited the house the cops reported that he was holding a gun to his head. Mahoney then confronted the cops, still holding the gun to his head, challenged in a “threatening” manner and the cops fearing for their lives, shot Mahoney dead. (Sources, Todo Poder all Pueblo, The Star (8-14-2012)
  3. On February 25, 2015, Francisco Romero,one of the co-founders of Todo Poder al Pueblo, was in a Ventura County courtroom, once again fighting trumped up misdemeanour charges (FIVE MISDEAMENOR TRAFFIC INFRACTIONS); a victim of a selectively target hit conducted by the Oxnard Police Department. On October 13, 2013, Todo Poder al Pueblo organized a community march against police brutality, repression and the killing of Alfonso Limon Jr. Jose Zepeda, Robert Ramirez Jr., Micheal Mahoney and Meagan Hockaday, and others at the hands of the Oxnard Police Department. This is what the historic march and protest was about, the killing of men and women in our community by the cops. The conduct of the OPD proved to be costly for all concerned, petty, and illegal from the onset of this intimidating and vindictive episode. The OPD wants nothing more than to intimidate and eliminate the constitutional protected rights of assembly and freedom of speech of activists like Francisco Romero and organizations like Todo Poder al Pueblo in Oxnard. In the end Francisco Romero won his case against the OPD and was vindicated. The OPD was again left with egg on its collective face. (Sources, Armando Vazquez and many witness accounts).
  4. The two (2) Oxnard Civil Gang Injunctions: Chiques Organizing for Rights and Equality (CORE) has been fighting for the abolishment of both the Colonia and Southside Oxnard Civil Gang Injunctions since their inception in 2003-2004 on the simple grounds that they are racist, profile a specific class of Oxnard residents (Latino men) and are outright unconstitutional, not to mention horrifically written and ambiguous ordinances. CORE further contends that the two new and “revised” Oxnard Civil Gang Injunctions are nothing more than pathetic political “boogieman” theatre, with the intent only on keeping the community in fear, in darkness and continuing to project the OPD’s “tough on crime” posture that always overwhelming wins support from the frighten and head in the sand voter/residents.

The cold truth is that last year the Ventura County Superior Court gave the OPD the green light to proceed with the execution of the new and revised OCGI. Today the “new, shiny, and revised” OCGI documents and court orders collect dust in the OPD offices and the offices of the DA. Today, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, the OPD has served no one in Colonia or Southside!!!! So much for the urgency to get the Superior Court to approve the OCGI modification to clear the street of the gang lawlessness and violence.  What the highly racist and unconstutional OCGI has done since 2003 is arbitrarily profile hundreds of “innocent” Chicano and Latino men (who have committed NO crime) and enjoined these “innocent” men to LIFE LONG punitive and draconian law enforcement surveillance and supervision simple and insidiously because the OPD know it can, and no one, not even the constitution can stop them. That is why the City of Oxnard Resident Police Review Board is now need more than ever. Oxnard let us seize the historic moment and abolish the two Oxnard Civil Gang Injunctions.


Armando Vazquez, M.Ed.  is Executive Director of  Acuna Art Gallery/Café on A, Executive Director for The KEYS Leadership Academy and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health/coalition

 


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.


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One Response to Police Reform – Oxnard

  1. Mark Savalla June 28, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Did you notice how this self aggrandizing attempted writer fails to provide any facts from the Oxnard PD crime stats? How many contacts by police each year/ how many crimes by group how many negative contacts compared to the number of contacts etc. All he did was cherry pick negative incidents. Did you notice that he made no suggestions how he would improve the great service the community is already being provided. If you would really like to know how the police are doing ask the people they protect.
    The police are not perfect but they are doing a better job at protecting you than this self appointed communist who caters to people that have a problem being arrested for committing crimes.

    Reply

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