Pardon me as I peek out from the blogosphere with hopes of capturing the eye of a reporter in LA.
Not trying to tell you how to do your job. I respect what you do.
And I’m 500 miles from your turf and don’t have the connections you do.
Maybe I’ve even got this story all wrong.
But like the kids say, I’m just sayin’…
First, let me share that I hope the word “challenge” in the headline above is misused…that the point it’s aimed at is already moot.
And that court reporters at the LA Times, local TV stations and elsewhere in the City of Angels have already rolled-up their sleeves, pounded the pavement and ruled-out a claim made within a sensitive, important debate.
The claim/contention/argument goes something like this: Even had the proposed “Jamiel’s Law” already been in effect when this year began, it would not have kept a young man alive because his accused killer’s prior arrest did not occur in Los Angeles.
Admittedly, I’m looking through a thin crack in the door. But it’s what’s on the other side that could be important.
Please bear with me as I list some letters and digits that may seem benign:
All of these numbers are tied to the same name; Pedro Espinoza.
And the same date of birth; March 4, 1987.
These are all criminal case numbers.
All of the files originate out of the municipal court of California’s Santa Clara County Judicial District.
These criminal case numbers establish that Pedro Espinoza has a history of arrests.
Not in Los Angeles County. But up in the Bay Area in Santa Clara County.
Time for another number.
It’s the number on the booking sheet regarding Espinoza’s arrest last November.
In Culver City.
Not in LA.
But, as you know, Culver City is in Los Angeles County.
And now, Espinoza’s most recent run-in with the law is a charge that has captured national headlines.
The murder of Jamiel Shaw II.
The victim, a high school football star, apparently didn’t know his killer. Gunned down without provocation.
Singled-out, we’re told, because he was black. And murdered after failing to answer a question correctly.
Where you from?
Street code for, “What gang are you with?”
As her son collapsed to the ground still holding his cell phone but already releasing his final breaths, Anita Shaw was fighting in Iraq.
Soon, we learned the suspect, Espinoza, came to this country illegally.
15 years ago.
When he was 4.
Just 28 hours before Shaw’s murder, Espinoza had been released from a Los Angeles County jail.
Critics asked, Why hadn’t Espinoza been deported after his arrest last November?
Shaw’s parents soon advocated the proposed “Jamiel’s Law.”
It would allow LAPD to ask suspects about their immigration status.
Right now, a policy called “Special Order 40” prohibits LAPD from doing so.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Instituted in 1979 by then-Chief Daryl F. Gates, Special Order 40 states that Los Angeles Police Department “officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person.” The order was meant to send a message to immigrants who had been victimized or had witnessed crimes that they could cooperate with police without fear of deportation. The rule has long been controversial and confusing, with many people — including some LAPD officers — believing it prohibits police from ever inquiring about the immigration status of suspects. Immigration rights groups hail Special Order 40 as an example of progressive policing, but the rule has come under attack from others, including anti-illegal immigration activists, who have sued to kill the order.
Suddenly, Shaw’s murder is entwined in volatile debates concerning illegal immigration.
Of course, everyone seems to agree that Shaw’s murder is a travesty.
And some critics of Jamiel’s Law correctly make the distinction that it was not the LAPD that arrested Espinoza last November.
As mentioned above, that arrest went down over in Culver City.
Thus the contention that–even had LA put it into effect prior to Shaw’s murder–Jamiel’s Law wouldn’t have kept a young man alive.
So here’s my humble challenge to any reporter who just might be reading this in LA:
Confirm as best you can that LAPD had no prior contact with Espinoza. Affirm that–had there been a Jamiel’s Law in the past–no opportunity would have ever existed for LAPD to determine Espinoza’s immigration status.
Because claims on either of this very important debate must be investigated.
Especially a claim affecting the possible preservation of an innocent person’s life.
You already know the suspect is a member of the 18th Street Gang.
And that the city is taking the gang problem “seriously.”
And that police departments have Gang Units that often keep files; to include photos and information about identifying markers such as tattoos and scars found on alleged gang members.
You know about the Freedom of Information Act.
So, rule-out any whisper of a notion that the LAPD had any prior contact with Espinoza.
Oh, and in case you have ways of getting information out of juvenile courts or juvenile detention centers, you might want to look there, too.
You know the words to look for. Headings like “Arresting Agency.”
Stuff like that.
As mentioned above, Espinoza reportedly came to the US shortly after getting out of diapers.
Long enough ago that he’s had time to establish a criminal history in Santa Clara County.
Gang bangers don’t respect county lines.
After all, where was Shaw killed?
In your city of angels.
Arrested by LAPD.
This was their first run-in with Espinoza?
Then let the debates move forward.
I’ll dip back down into the blogosphere.