FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Community organization submits open letter to Ventura County District Attorney re: Robert Ramirez homicide at Oxnard Police Department’s hands
On behalf of Ramirez’s family, Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective demands accountability, transparency in pursuit of justice for officer-committed homicide victim
On Friday, January 25, 2013, members of the Oxnard-based Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective, accompanied by the parents of Robert Ramirez, delivered a letter (see below) to the Office of the Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten. The letter was given to DA Executive Assistant Joyce Donahue and Chief Deputy District Attorney Chuck Hughes.
The letter urges the DA to respond within a week to the questions and concerns raised by the collective and the Ramirez family, establishing a deadline of February 1, 2013; a more than reasonable span of time given that over seven months have elapsed since the tragic taking of Ramirez’s life.
Community organizations and families representing the victims of police brutality have reserved the right and expressed their will to carry out direct action and various community events if the District Attorney’s office continues to show disregard for the community’s rightful expectations of justice.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Office of Ventura County District Attorney
Attention: Gregory D. Totten, District Attorney
800 South Victoria Avenue
Ventura, CA 93009
Re: Investigation and Prosecution of Oxnard Police Officers implicated in the Homicide of Robert Ramirez
Mr. Gregory D. Totten,
As you are aware, on the night of June 23, 2012, the Oxnard Police Department (OPD) was implicated in what has been determined the “homicide by asphyxia from active prone restraint” of Robert Ramirez. Involved in this homicide were, according to a press release by the OPD, at least seven (7) Oxnard Police officers: Senior Officer Steven Ramirez II, Officer Michael Bocanegra, Officer Rosylnn Wilfert, Officer Pedro Rodriguez, Officer Aaron Zavala, Officer Kyle Brantner, and Officer Mathew Ross (herein referred to as the ‘seven criminal homicide suspects’).
This crime – like any and every incident of police misconduct and brutality large or small – is an offense against our entire community and a violation of our community’s standard of justice. Seven months have passed since the night the homicide occurred, and it’s been nearly two months since the Ventura County Medical Examiner officially declared that Robert Ramirez’s death was caused by the actions of the seven criminal homicide suspects.
Our community is concerned that the delays in investigating this case on the part of both the DA and the OPD are a collaborative effort to delay justice. Also, we are deeply skeptical about the objectivity of one Ventura County law enforcement agency investigating another.
The people you’ve been elected to serve are seriously concerned by the knowledge that these seven criminal homicide suspects, rather than facing the penalty of incarceration demanded by such gross misconduct, remain employed by the City of Oxnard. Adding insult to injury, these seven criminal homicide suspects continue to roam our neighborhoods armed with numerous semi-automatic weapons, in addition to shotguns and other ‘less-than-lethal’ devices and tools whose adverse effects include serious injury and even death.
Some, if not all, of the seven criminal homicide suspects are trained in martial arts and lethal hand-to-hand combat techniques. Residents suffer reasonable fear of the possibility of becoming victims of these officers who, like many other sworn staff of the OPD, are trained to employ military-grade tactical combat in our streets. These combat methods include potentially deadly hand-to-hand techniques as well as compliance & submission techniques that can directly lead to lethal prone restraint asphyxia. Such methods of physical force continue to be put into daily use by regional officers with impunity, ensuring a repetition of the Officer-Committed Homicides that claim the lives of victims such as Ramirez and scar our communities.
In this context it should be clear that the people have a natural right to feel anxiety, insecurity, and outrage.
We write this letter to you on behalf of the people who you’ve been elected to represent. We formally and publicly request that you provide our community with a detailed and accurate response detailing what, if any, investigation has already taken place. We consider the scant details published in the Ventura County Star on January 23, 2013 to be far from satisfactory. This letter is also a protest against the continued denial of justice for Robert Ramirez, his family, his friends, our entire community, and all past, present, and future victims of police brutality, abuse, and misconduct.
The scope of our concern isn’t limited to the tragic and unnecessary taking of Robert Ramirez’s life alone; we have reason to believe that several officers implicated in the homicide of Ramirez may also be directly involved in other recent incidents of homicide and unprovoked violent aggression within our community, adding urgency to the matter. Therefore, we request that your office formally respond within a week to our questions and concerns.
Please send a written response to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For any further questions or concerns you may also reach us at: (805) 328-4763.
Colectivo Todo Poder al Pueblo and the family of Robert Ramirez