Over one hundred friends, family members, and supporters took the streets on Saturday to protest the killing of 36-year-old Jose de La Trinidad by L.A. County Sheriffs in Willowbrook 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. Jose asked his brother to let him out of the vehicle after his brother attempted to evade officials. Jose’s brother briefly pulled over for Jose to exit the vehicle. Deputies Angel Grandes and Alexandro Gonzales claim Jose was reaching for his waistband while he got out of the car, which prompted them to open fire on Jose, 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 following the shooting, but Estefani recounted being repeatedly questioned by authorities who attempted to confused her and pressure her into changing 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 Los Angeles County Coroner’s autopsy report confirms that Jose de La Trinidad died from multiple gunshot wounds to 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.
During a press conference last Friday, Arnoldo Casillas who is representing De La Trinidad’s wife, explained that the Sheriff department has refused to follow up with a criminal investigation on the case and confirmed that the Sheriff Department’s Internal Criminal Investigation Bureau (I.C.I.B.) is not handling this case.
“What needs to be done is to have the F.B.I [Federal Bureau of Investigation] come in and do a meaningful, transparent investigation.” stated Casillas.
“There are no words to describe what life has been life these last couple of months,” shared Jose’s distraught widow, Rosie de la Trinidad, “For Christmas my kids were asking Santa for their daddy back…I don’t know how I’m ever going to fill that void in their life – I don’t even feel like I’m here anymore.”
At Saturday’s demonstration, supporters from neighboring cities and as far as Cypress, Reseda, Downey, Pomona, Anaheim and Santa Ana marched together from the corner of E 122nd St and S Wilmington Ave in Willowbrook, location where Jose was killed by sheriff deputies, to L.A. County Sheriff Department’s Century Station located on 11703 Alameda St in Lynwood.
Even with the sun beating down that afternoon, the loud chants of the marching people echoed through the streets, and the shouts for justice filled the neighborhoods as the march progressed towards the city of Lynwood.
Once at the Sheriff’s station, family and supporters held a rally where speakers shared memories and words of support for Jose’s family.
“The sheriffs that killed Jose got away with murder,” explained Damion Ramirez, “none of us in this crowd could get away with murder, especially if we committed a public murder like they did. Part of what they do is intimidate the community, but we’re not afraid, we went out there and we took the streets – last time we took the streets too!...We walked down the streets and everybody was behind us cus these neighborhoods that we’re walking through – they know what the truth is, all we gotta do is keep telling that truth.”
“We need to change these [Officer’s] Bill of Rights that these officers are protected under,” stated Genevieve Huizar, whose son Manuel Diaz was shot and killed by Anaheim police in 2012, “change these injunctions that are criminalizing our families and our communities, they’re tearing apart our families.”
Most of the families at Saturday’s action have been supporting each other at various demonstrations, building on to a growing coalition of families affected by police violence. These families plan to attend a statewide conference in Oxnard next Saturday titled “Justice for Our Communities! Families Organizing to Resist Police Brutality and Abuse.”
The event that is being organized by the Todo El Poder Al Pueblo Collective aims at creating an opportunity for the planning, coordination, and organization of statewide events and actions to address and bring an end to injustices such as “rise in police militarization, brutality, and officer-committed abuse in working class neighborhoods and communities of color.”
The conference will include an attendance by families of victims of officer-committed homicides such as Robert Ramirez (Oxnard), Oscar Grant (Oakland), Manuel Diaz and Martin Angel Hernandez (Anaheim), Kelly Thomas (Fullerton), Michael Lee Nida II (Downey), Jose de La Trinidad (Inglewood), Javier Arrazola (Reseda), Ernest Dueñez (Manteca), and Andres Avila (Pomona).
More information on the conference and follow-up actions may be found on the Todo Poder Al Pueblo Collective website.