One day after the viewing of Robert Villa and two days before a demonstration to mark one month of his murder, police officers pull over and harass Villa’s stepfather, Francisco Mejia, after being filmed by him.
According to Mejia’s account, at about 5pm last Saturday, he was pumping gas at a station on the corner of Redhill Ave. and Nisson Rd. in south Tustin when he saw three police cars in a parking lot adjacent to the apartment complex where he lives and where Robert Villa was killed last month.
Videos obtained by The Rebel Press, show the three police cars driving away as soon as they notice Mejia filming and the ensuing interaction between three TPD officers and various members of the Villa family during the stop.
“They’re right there just chilling all three of them next to where my son Robert died by my apartment building… They’re getting filmed, they know it and all they gotta do is just walk away...” Mejia narrates through the video.
“Just finished pumping gas and while I left after filming them right now, two of them came right next to me as I went to pay for some gas, and now as I’m done, two of them went by again and they’re looking at me.” He adds as he gets into his car.
On his way home, Mejia was pulled over by a police officer while he drove through the parking lot where the cops’ meeting –as described by him- had taken place earlier.
A second video, recorded by Mejia’s wife and mother of Robert Villa, Leticia Villa, shows officer Brian Stroud conducting the inspection. She approaches the car with camera in hand and lets officer Stroud know the person in custody is her husband. Officer Stroud unwittingly reveals he knows whom he is dealing with. “I know, but you’ll have to stay over there…” He answers.
One of Leticia’s sons can be heard recounting what happened.
“That fool [police officer] left and then right away he waited for [Mejia] to come and he pulls up right behind him like that…”
After a few minutes, another police car pulls up into the parking lot and an unidentified officer approaches Mejia’s car on the passenger’s side. He looks inside the car, acknowledges Leticia, who is standing on the sidewalk, and assumes a dominant stance by placing his left hand on top of the car and his right hand on his belt almost touching his butt-gun.
Not even a minute has passed when a third officer, Sgt. Robert Wright, appears on scene. He refuses to give his business card to one of Leticia’s son claiming he has to deal with the situation first even though it’s obvious that the two officers are in control and Mejia is cooperating and complying with officer Stroud’s commands.
Sgt. Wright tries to push Leticia and her children away from the site and orders them to step back.“We’re in a public sidewalk, I know my rights. I’m not interfering with you guys.” Leticia asserts. “If we have to pay attention to you right now, then you’re kinda in our way, so don’t push the issue and please just stand over here.” Sgt. Wright commands in a threating undertone pointing her further towards the curb.
“This is the second day [after Robert’s viewing] and they come over here and do this… They know what they’re doing, they know exactly what they’re doing… and I know what they’re doing; they wanna harass. That’s all this is. It’s called harassment.” Accuses Leticia.
The stop lasted between 15 to 20 minutes and a citation for lack of a front plate was issued to Francisco Mejia.
The unidentified police officer was one of the agents that questioned family members the day of Robert Villa’s fatal shooting and he was also seen at the Tustin City Council Meeting on February 18th, according to Leticia.
Sgt. Cartwright from the Tustin PD told The Rebel Press he wouldn’t comment on the story. “I can’t comment on that with a third party; you were not part of that.” He said.
These types of intimidation tactics and harassment are common in cases of families actively demanding justice for loved ones who have been victims of police brutality.
In OC the most notable examples are the communities of Ponderosa, Anna Dr. and Guinida Lane in Anaheim, where Martin Hernandez, Manuel Diaz, and Joel Acevedo were killed by Anaheim police officers. The systematic harassment in these communities has gotten to the extent of altars being desecrated by police officers and relatives of the deceased being put under surveillance, detained and issued citations for bogus charges.