Last Saturday, some 300 friends, family, and supporters gathered at the corner of E 122nd St and S Wilmington Ave in the city of Willowbrook, place where 36-year-old Jose de la Trinidad was shot and killed by L.A. County Sheriff deputies last November.
On November 10th, 2012, Jose de la Trinidad was going home with his brother, Francisco, after attending a niece’s quinceañera when L.A. Sheriff deputies attempted to pull them over for speeding. As Francisco attempted to evade the deputies, Jose asked his brother to let him out of the vehicle. Jose’s brother briefly pulled over and fled the scene. Deputies claim that Jose was reaching for his waistband as soon as he got out of the car, which prompted the shooting, but witness Estefani, who lives across the street from where the shooting took place, spoke out in an interview with the L.A. Times contradicting the Sheriff department’s official report.
Sheriffs denied speaking to any potential witnesses after the shooting, but Estefani recounted being repeatedly questioned by authorities in an attempt to confuse her and have her change her story. Estefani told the LA Times reporter that Jose immediately followed the deputies’ commands to “stop and turn around” only to be shot in the back while his hands were on his head.
A follow-up autopsy report also confirmed that Jose de la Trinidad died of “multiple gunshot wounds” - 7 to be exact, 5 of them in the back.
Jose was unarmed. He left behind two children, ages 6 and 3, and his wife, Rosie de la Trinidad.
Deputies involved in the shootings were back patrolling the streets after serving 5 days of “desk duty”, a “standard practice” for deputies involved in shootings according to Sheriff spokesperson Steve Whitmore.
Last Saturday afternoon, family and supporters met at Jose’s memorial where they would then march through Compton until reaching the Compton Sherriff Department almost 3 miles away at the 301 S block of Willbrook Ave.
As soon as people arrived at around 1PM that day, Sheriff SUVs stationed themselves and patrolled the area across the street on S Wilmington Ave.
Armed with banners, photos of Jose, and even enlarged prints of his autopsy report, the people took their march through Compton spreading their message of, “No justice, no peace.”
As the march traveled through some neighborhoods, nearby residents clapped in support, owners and employees of local business joined the chants, and honks of support filled streets. It was apparent police abuse has had a long history in Compton. “Fucked up what they did,” commented a passer-by who raised his fist in support, “they better stop the killings, that’s for real.”
Almost half way to the Sheriff’s station, one of the protestors was detained by LA County Sheriffs. Damion Ramirez, who has been protesting for over a year alongside other families of fatal police shooting victims, kept his hands on his head while being detained in case Sheriff deputies presumed he would “reach for his waistband.” After some questioning by deputies, Damion was released and the march continued.
Once arriving the station, the people gathered around the Sheriffs guarding the entrance to the station lobby. Friends and family spoke out in front a multitude of supporters and a line of LA County deputies.
Jose de la Trinidad’s friend, Gigi, addressed the crowd questioning the department’s power and demanding accountability for the shooting of an unarmed man:
“How many of these officer involved shootings have to occur where unarmed civilians are being wrongfully murdered and taken away from their families? – I mean hardworking, kind-hearted people just like Jose de la Trinidad. We desperately need and want to see these officers held accountable for this unjust crime – and I don’t mean desk duty or paid leave! ”
Jubilee Shine, a member of the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police explained the presence of a common enemy and a common purpose:
“We are here united, poor working class whites, Latinos, and Blacks united to fight for justice to stop police brutality in our streets. These policemen and Sheriffs, they do not come from these neighborhoods. They don’t come from Compton, they don’t come from Watts, they don’t come from Inglewood they bring these cops and Sheriffs from out of town…they give them good salaries to come and act like armies in our streets – we need control over these police.”
He added that the real justice would come from the people taking the power through solidarity and direct action:
“If we think that the LA County Board of Supervisors is gonna provide us with justice, if we think the LA County District Attorney is gonna provide us with justice then we have not been paying attention. Since1983, only one police officer in the state of California has been charged with a crime for killing somebody and sentenced to jail, and that was Johannes Mehserle in Oakland for killing Oscar Grant, and that was because the people in Oakland had their act together and took it to the streets and would not take no!”