Central Valley Struggles Against Police Terrorism: July-Dec 2010

Oakland Footlocker

Thursday, July 8th – Johannes Meserle, the BART Officer who shot unarmed Oscar Grant in the back on New Year’s 2009 is found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, upset that Meserle wasn’t convicted of murder, or at least voluntary manslaughter, over a thousand people riot in the streets of Oakland for the second time. In the end, 83 are arrested and footlocker and other stores are looted, bank windows are broken, dumpsters are lit on fire, and cars are smashed. Video can be seen at http://youtube.com/RHHRorg

Wednesday, July 21st – A coalition of Stockton, Sacramento, and Modesto citizens host a town hall meeting at the Nation of Islam Mosque in Stockton to discuss police abuse in the Central Valley. The family of Joey

Joey Pinasco

 Pinasco, a young man shot to death by CHP officers in Escalon in 2008, spoke to the crowd of around 200. Joey Pinasco was shot when cops claimed he tried to ram them with his truck, a witness that lived nearby stated Joey’s truck was stuck in a ditch and not moving when the CHP officers opened fire.

Thursday, July 22nd – Not even 24 hours after the town hall meeting on police abuse officers from the Stockton Police Department Eric Azarvand and Gregory Dunn, with John Thomas Nesbitt of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department kill 16 year old James Rivera the day before his 17th birthday. Some of the circumstances in the shooting mirror those of Joey Pinasco’s. The police chased James Rivera until he crashed

James Rivera

through the wall of a neighbor’s garage. The cops claim the van that James was driving started to back up towards them and they had to open fire to save their own lives. Nice story, but several witnesses in the neighborhood say that the crash was so bad that James was most likely unconscious and the van was rendered inoperable and that police opened fire with M16s and 9MMs almost immediately after  getting out of their cars. See the video at http://youtube.com/209copwatch

James Rivera Community BBQ

Friday, July 23rd – As a way to mourn, heal, and organize, family, friends, and neighbors of James Rivera hold a community BBQ on the corner where the shooting occurred. People ate, shared stories about James, played cars, listened to music, and examined the numerous bullet holes in the garage’s drywall, around 100 attended throughout the day.

Tuesday, July 27th – About 200 people pack the Stockton city council meeting to demand justice for James Rivera, Joey Pinasco, and all victims of police abuse in San Joaquin County. The crowd made statements to the council members for two hours at the end Stockton mayor Ann Johnston promises to have an independent and transparent investigation into the shooting. Yeah right.

Tuesday, August 3rd – The family of Leslee Patricia Gutierrez, a female inmate who was found dead in Modesto’s Public Safety Center, file a $25 million law suit against the county and Sheriff’s department.

Wednesday, August 4th – Another inmate, Richard Taylor, is found dead in the Stanislaus County jail.

Protesters outside Stockton City Hall

Tuesday, August 10th – After two weeks and no real results in the fight for justice for James Rivera, demonstrators once again pack the Stockton city council meeting. After another two hours of statements from over 100 citizens, council members tried to move on to other business when more people wanted to speak. When they were told the council was moving on to other issues the crowd began chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” until they were physically shut out of the meeting chambers.

Friday, August 13th – Around a dozen protestors hold signs and talk to customers in front of The Balloonery, a business owned by Stockton mayor Ann Johnston, after Johnston breaks her promise of ensuring an independent and transparent investigation into the killing of James Rivera by announcing that the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office will handle in the investigation internally.

Francisco Moran

Sunday, September 5th – Modesto Police officers Joseph Lamantia and Robert Laxton shoot and kill Francisco Moran in South-East Modesto after mistaking his spatula for a knife.

Saturday, September 11th – About 20 people protest in front of the Modesto Police Department demanding justice for Francisco Moran.

Wednesday, September 15th – Lawyer John Burris, who represented Tupac Shakur and the family of Oscar Grant in their lawsuits against the Oakland police department, files a $10 million lawsuit against San Joaquin County on behalf of James Rivera’s family.

Rita Elias

 Friday, September 24th – An off-duty Stanislaus County sheriff detective, Kari Abbey, shoots and kills Rita Elias in West Modesto after Abbey’s parents, who were Rita’s landlords, got into an argument about a possible eviction. Police say that Rita brandished a bb-gun at Abbey, who never identified herself as a detective, but witnesses say the bb-gun was planted after the shooting.

Thursday, September 30th – Around 200 people protest on the corner of Paradise and MLK in  West Modesto and demand justice for Francisco Moran and Rita Elias. Video at http:youtube.com/209copwatch

Friday, October 1st – The next day, the families, friends, and neighbors of Francisco and Rita protest again in front of the Modesto Police Department.

Saturday, October 23rd – In coalition with the National Day Against Police Brutality (Oct 22nd), about 30 people marched, sometimes in the rain, from the Double Tree (where Richie Robles was killed by MPD officer Latisha Leap in January 2009) to the Modesto police department for those brutalized and killed by MPD, to the Stanislaus County jail for those abused and killed by Sheriffs and guards, and to the recently privatized “Paperboy Park” for the poor and homeless are being harassed by police and driven out of the park.  

 Wednesday, October 27th – An e-mail is made public that was written on September 12th by retiring MPD Sgt. Craig Plante about the “good ol’ days” when veteran police officers taught new recruits the “unwritten rule:” You could beat “anyone who ran from us.” “The bad guys knew it as well as we did,” Plante wrote. “If we chased you, it was coming. … You were pummeled, taken to Scenic Hospital, put to the front of the line, patched up and booked.” The biggest “B&R event” — when officers would beat and release people — was Modesto’s Graffiti Night festivities, Plante wrote. Police would remove their name tags before doing it, the sergeant said. Plante said he wore another officer’s name tag from 1986 through 1991, the only dates referenced in the e-mail. “You’d start hitting, they’d start running and eventually they’d escape into the crowd,” Plante wrote. “The SWAT (team) had their own ‘Strike Squad.’ … They’d pour out and start clubbing people … until everyone ran away.”

Police Beat People

Wednesday, November 3rd – A letter from an anonymous MPD officer is sent to the Modesto Bee in response to the “beat & release” revelations. It states, “police brutality is still going on and the solid hardworking police officers have reported this ongoing activity to Captain Balentine and Chief Harden who have done NOTHING about it. Officers have also confronted Lt. Cloward. Cloward has directed sergeants to leave these guys alone. Lt. Cloward, Captain Balentine and Chief Harden are all K-9 buddies and will protect each other.  The officers committing these acts are James Murphy, Orrin Nelson, Florencio Costales, and Joe Lamantia. All work together and pick on ganger types and helpless citizens. Lamantia just killed a man armed with a spatula. I suggest you subpoena all of these people along with K-9 use of force reports (especially Murphy’s dog) and I bet the chief will try and hide behind these use of force reports. Chief Harden has no credibility or integrity and will protect his  upper management.”

Saturday, November 6th – Johannes Meserle is sentenced to the minimum amount of 2 years, pretty much time served. More riots occur in Oakland as 152 people are arrested, cars and businesses are smashed, and a cop’s belt is snatched off.

Wednesday, November 10th – Modesto police chief Mike Harden asks a so-called private investigator to look into the allegations of abuse and corruption within the Modesto Police Department.

Friday, November 12th – A trial date is set in the wrongful death suit of Craig Prescott, an ex-corrections officer who uncovered drug smuggling involving guards at the Stanislaus County jail, was fired, imprisoned during a nervous breakdown, and then killed by jail guards while in custody.

Monday, December 6th – About 20 people, including the family and

Protesters 'disrupt' MPD re-accreditation meeting

 friends of Francisco Moran and Rita Elias, protest in front of the Modesto police department before a meeting to discuss granting them re-accreditation by a national law enforcement organization. Protestors marched into the meeting wearing masks bearing the faces of Francisco and Rita and chanting “Cops! Pigs! Murderers!” After the Modesto Bee came under criticism for not reporting on the protest, columnist Jeff Jardine wrote that a group of anarchists were to blame, not only for the disruption of the accreditation meeting, but for single handedly taking away Modesto’s small-town innocence. Video can be seen at http://youtube.com/209copwatch Replies to Jardine’s column can be read  at http://modestoanarcho.org & http://wearealloscargrantcv.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 11th – Four MPD officers, Eric Schuller, Matthew McMahon, Felton Payne, and Robert Laxton (who also killed Francisco Moran) shot and killed Jesse Eugene Watson after he allegedly tried to rob Burnside Body Shop, owned by Modesto City Council member Stephanie Burnside, and leading cops on a chase. Using the common Joey Pinasco/James Rivera story of “the vehicle came at us” the officers not only killed the driver, but wounded the innocent passenger and put bullets into their own police cars and the car of a mother and daughter who were passing by.

Saturday, December 18th – Around 20 people gathered in Ceres for a potluck to donate Christmas presents and raise funds for the families of Francisco Moran and Rita Elias for the holidays.

Thursday, December 30th – Modesto police officers shoot a suicidal man, Brian Reed, who was recently laid-off as a truck driver and was feeling depressed. Reed’s wife says that Brian was holding a knife to his own chest and made no threatening remarks or motions towards the officers who opened fire on him after yelling “drop the fucking knife!” Reed is currently in the hospital in critical condition.

2011 – What will be next!!! Contact modestopcopwatch@live.com and check http://wearealloscargrantcv.blogspot.com to get involved.

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Categories: Bay Area News, Central Valley News, CopWatch, Legal/Know Your Rights, Prisoner Issues, Racism

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