Latino community rejects DOJ whitewash in Gutierrez case


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - On February 14th, the Yolo County Sheriff's Department announced the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) had cleared three of its "gang-suppression unit" deputies of civil rights violations in the fatal shooting of Luis Gutierrez in April 2009.

On February 18th, a group of organizations, led by the Yolo Justice Coalition and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) held a press conference at the Robert Matsui Federal Courthouse in Sacramento to criticize the DOJ's conclusion.

On April 30, 2009, Luis Gutierrez was walking home from the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Woodland, California, where he had just passed the written test for a driver's license, when he was accosted by the three deputies, who were wearing clothing that looked like gang apparel and driving an unmarked car.

According to witnesses, Gutierrez ran from them, and was shot in the back and killed.

The Sheriff's Department later stated that Gutierrez was a known gang member, was high on meth and had attacked the deputies with a knife. However such claims were later contradicted by witnesses who saw the shooting, and others who had just interacted with him before the shooting.

Among the questions raised by Al Rojas, Sacramento LCLAA vice-president, speaking for the Coalition were: Why did the DOJ never interview the Gutierrez family or witnesses of the shooting? Where is the DOJ investigative report? Why have the three deputies never been asked to testify under oath? Since the DOJ verdict was based on reviewing an investigative report by the Woodland Police and the Yolo County Sheriff's Department, why has that report never been published?

Rojas said it was the Yolo Justice Coalition that requested a DOJ investigation in June of 2009, but the coalition never got a response to their letter, nor were they identified in the DOJ letter as the source of the civil rights complaint that sparked the review.

Speaking in Spanish, with Rojas acting as interpreter, Jose Santos Gutierrez, Luis Gutierrez' father, repeated that the family had never been interviewed. "I expected justice, but there was no justice," he told the group.

"We don't accept this conclusion. We will meet with (recently-elected California State Attorney) Kamala Harris to ask for a thorough independent investigation. If necessary, we will send a delegation to Washington," Rojas declared.

Photo: Jose Santos Gutierrez, father of slain Luis Gutierrez, by Marcos Cardenas.


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  • I'm so proud of Jose Santos Gutierrez, father of Luis
    Gutierrez When people stand for their rights have to keep fighting until voices have to be heard. It may take time, but voices and conscience has to spread all over, for our future generations and to keep our face up and never to be shame of our heritage which are our roots. We are so tired of being treated worst then criminals, we came in to work and be prosperous and to be a good example for our community and not only for our grand-kids. We fought for what is true, Because we still believe in honesty, and not corruption, we still believe in true and not lies.
    we are with you Gutierrez

    Posted by Sara , 01/08/2014 9:30pm (2 years ago)

  • I think, "That enough is enough" I can't not believe that after all this years the judicial system haven't, moderated their conduct "What a shame" instead of being forward they are becoming back-ford. and the problem is that, we are paying for it. In the police car said: To protect and serve, Excuse me, if this is the way to serve the individual? What could it be not to serve? As I always tell to my friends, the union makes the power. And don't limited yourself, go, and behind any limitations to get justice.

    Posted by Belinda from Sacramento. Ca., 07/14/2012 3:10pm (4 years ago)

  • A lot of horrible stories can be tell, Like my story one time, I was looking for my husband at the va. hospital, thimking that he was there. I went there, and by the time I was looking for him, I were stop by the police question me about every thing. thinking that probably I hill my husband, and on top of that this police officer, call the sheriff dep, that was in another city. And myself i was stending up, about to ran, but I said I haven't done anything wrong and I stay. I spoke to a lady that was from the sheriff dep. and said, look probably my husband is at home by now, if you let me go probably I'm going to find him. She let me go with the condition that, to let her know If my husband were there. my husband get home around nine at the evening saying that he was at the meeting in another building. If I were runing probably I could it be alive.

    Posted by Lina M., 11/02/2011 9:23pm (4 years ago)

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