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Robert Ramírez’s Death in Custody of Oxnard Police Department Raises Question of Brutal Practices
Monday, July 16, 2012
Oxnard Family Demands Impartial Investigation
On the night of June 23, 2012, Oxnard Police officers confronted 26-year-old Robert Ramírez on the 1100 block of South ‘L’ Street. Upon realizing that Ramírez needed medical attention, family friends called 911. However, what ensued was beyond simple negligence by the Oxnard Police Department and may have been criminal – not only did officers prevent Ramírez from receiving urgent medical attention, but their actions may also have directly resulted in his death.
On July 12, a press conference was held at the Law Offices of Bamieh and Erickson in Ventura. Sitting stoically before the press, Ramírez’s mother, Teresa, stated that her family “are only looking for the truth of what happened on the night of Robert’s death. At this point we have no plans to do anything but to find the truth and share it with our community.”
As the Ramírez family mourns, the family’s attorney, Ron Bamieh, has made clear that he will focus his investigation on the police officers in question. Bamieh stated, “We know from eyewitnesses there were seven to ten officers there who all descended upon Robert. We believe it was closer to ten than seven, based on the totality of the evidence that I have viewed.” Bamieh added that the FBI is investigating the case, and that criminal charges could be brought by the Ventura County District Attorney or the U.S. Attorney.
Although the Oxnard Police Department’s homicide unit and Ventura County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the incident, the Ramírez family is demanding an impartial independent investigation. The police were informed that Robert had potentially overdosed on stimulants, information which should have been taken into account when deescalating the encounter. Instead, the officers aggressively descended upon Ramírez, who was unarmed and posed no immediate physical threat to the officers.
While the original 911 call was for medical assistance this was denied. It wasn’t until Robert was beaten unconscious and handcuffed that emergency personnel were allowed to begin life-saving measures. Bamieh, who has a 20 years of experience in criminal justice casework, stated that “Evidence is very clear that Robert did not attack or hit any officers…that officers approached him first….that they took him to the ground…that they were punching at him….When you look at the injuries that resulted after the altercation, it’s clear that he was beaten.” The attorney added that he knew of no police protocol requiring the striking of suspects in the head or face or the use of choke holds and Tasers, all of which have been confirmed by numerous witnesses. Bamieh established that his firm has collected video footage to be used as evidence in the case.
According to Oxnard Police Department spokeswoman Monica Muñoz, none of the officers involved in the assault were injured in the incident. Although the officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave following the incident, all resumed their jobs as of June 27. Muñoz stated that the officers did not hit Robert or deploy less-than-lethal weaponry such as stun guns or Tasers. However, photographs obtained by Bamieh from the coroner’s office directly contradict Muñoz’s statements, showing that Robert’s body was left with an extensive amount of bruises and physical trauma at the time of his death. Official autopsy reports are currently pending.
During the press conference, an unidentified woman attempted to enter the press conference. Bamieh asked her to identify herself, and when she stated she was from the OPD the attorney promptly notified her that she was neither invited nor welcome at the press conference. Bamieh escorted Monica Muñoz off the premises.
The case raises some very important questions. Was medical assistance delayed on purpose? What effect does this incident have on the community? As was the case with Rodney King, Kelly Thomas, and countless others, this incident is yet another example of the rampant police brutality prevalent in our communities. This pattern of abusive practice on the part of the Oxnard Police Department has led to a culture of fear in our neighborhoods.
Our community demands justice — an impartial investigation of the murder of Ramírez, and the punishment of those guilty of this crime. The militarization of our communities must end, and killer cops must be aggressively investigated and removed from our streets!
Demand that the Oxnard Police Department disclose the truth about their actions: contact OPD spokeswoman Monica Muñoz at (805) 385-7631 and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org