Police shootings

Dear Editor:Recently in a city, a police car stopped near a young man. He ran and the police gave chase. Running, the young man reached behind his back and pulled out a gun to toss it into the bushes. But in 3/4 of a second a bullet cannot be recalled and he lay dead on the sidewalk. Shot in the back by a police officer. One month ago in Downey an unarmed and innocent Michael Nida for some reason ran from the Downey police and was shot and killed. Everyone knows the reputation of the Downey Police; the citizens know it, the police know it, people hundreds of miles away know it. The reputation of the Downey Police Department exited that squad car before the officer and we know why Michael ran. You don't deal with the Downey Police if you don't have to. Michael Nida ran because he was taught to run by decades of Downey Police repression and reputation. Michael Nida was shot because the reputation of the uniform willed it. A uniform that would rather answer questions now from a DA to killing a man than to forever answer to peers as to why a suspect got away. I attend two civilian police boards in South Los Angeles: the Watts Gang Task Force (WGTF) in L.A. City Council 15 and a C-PAB (Community-Police Advisory Board) that meets at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Watts. At our regular meeting held just after the shooting, the captain in charge of the Southeast Community Police Station introduced another captain who heads the investigative division of the LAPD. For the next 45 minutes he explained in great detail the process his division was undertaking to investigate the shooting of the young man. He read the facts of the shooting that were known to him. He read every witness statement taken even if it was contradictory. He said after several more months of investigation he will submit identical reports, one to Police Chief Charlie Beck which will ask, did the shooting violate state law? The other report will go to the District Attorney and will ask, did the shooting violate state law? The captain gave his full contact information; "if you were a witness to the shooting, I need to talk with you." This kind of transparency is unprecedented in the LAPD, but Chief Beck ordered this captain to the WGTF meeting because he was concerned about the shooting. Beyond an apology, beyond respect there was an overwhelming sense of "something tragic happened in our community, an innocent person was killed, and we are all getting to the bottom of it." Would you like to live in such a community? This was completely absent in the Downey City Council last week. As more than a dozen friends and family of persons shot and killed by the Downey Police spoke, the Council, bound by law, sat stone-faced, ummoved, seemingly unconcerned, unable to respond. Which one of them will convene a town hall to discuss police-community relations? Which one of them will create an agenda item where the council may discuss the shooting in a public forum? When will the Downey Chief of Police and the Sheriff's office go to a civilian board meeting to explain the process of investigation over this and other shootings in an attempt to repair the department's reputation, or is absence consent to preserving it? Last Tuesday, the council chose Councilmember Roger Brossmer of District 3 to become mayor Dec. 6 and among his duties he will soon meet with the Downey Chief of Police. After exchanging pleasantries I wonder if Mayor Brossmer will conclude his meeting by directly and firmly telling Chief Rick Esteves, "you will not shoot any unarmed people in my town during my tenure." Wouldn't that be bold? Mr. Brossmer, so far under your leadership the Downey Police have not killed anyone. Congratulations. We'll be watching. -- Kevin Solis, Downey

********** Published: December 1, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 33