Protests build around police shooting

By WND Staff

Gonzalo Martinez had no criminal record.

His mother says he was a hard-working young man in an import-export business who supported her while helping to put his brother through college.

But on Feb. 15 he was shot dead after being pulled over for a traffic violation by Downey, Calif., police. A video, shown last night on “The O’Reilly Factor,” appears to show the young man raising his hands on the orders of the police before being shot repeatedly by
a police officer wielding an assault rifle.

A spokesman for the city of Downey said Wednesday that a second, unreleased video of the police shooting of Gonzalo Martinez shows Martinez’s hands were not raised at the time, supporting the city’s contention that the shooting was justified.

The shooting has brought months of protests in Downey and was shown repeatedly on local Spanish-language television and in Argentina, where Martinez’s parents came from. But the
case has frustrated the family because it has drawn less attention than the highly
publicized beating of a 16-year-old in Inglewood in July.

Robert Alaniz of Hill & Knowlton, the public relations firm hired by the city to
represent it in the case, said the second video, shot with a camera mounted on the dashboard of a police car that had pursued Martinez, would not be released until the district attorney’s office finishes its investigation of the Feb. 15 shooting.

Alaniz said the police video would be made available to the media “when, as we expect, the district attorney concurs with [our opinion], that this shooting was justified.”

He said the district attorney’s office has been provided with the police video.

Downey “is trying to urge the D.A. to push forward on his investigation,” Alaniz said.

The FBI also is investigating the Martinez shooting, which has led to demonstrations by the Martinez family and Latino activists.

According to the police account, the shooting occurred after a 12-minute chase, during which Martinez at one point backed his car toward officers in an apparent attempt to run them over. A coroner’s report added that, when Martinez later emerged from his car, he made “furtive” movements with one hand, which led the police to open fire.

Steve Lerman, the attorney who is representing the family in a lawsuit against the city, said that he has been trying, so far without success, to obtain a copy of the police video and that he believes there may even be a third video, shot from a police helicopter.

In any case, Lerman said, the district attorney’s investigation has had access to eyewitnesses who believe that the police shooting of Martinez was not justified.

If the eyewitnesses are given proper credence, “they’ll have no choice but to find that this shooting was not only not justified but was a criminal act,” Lerman said.