OXNARD, Calif. – Oxnard officials said Tuesday they will designate a Community Safety and Anti-Violence Day next week in honor of a bystander killed by police in 2012, but other terms of a lawsuit settlement with the man’s family have not yet been met.
Alfonso Limon, 21, was shot and killed by Oxnard police on Oct. 13, 2012, when authorities say officers mistook him for a suspect involved in a shootout with police after a traffic stop.
Officials held a news conference Tuesday — six days before the second anniversary of Limon’s death — to discuss terms of a settlement reached with Limon’s family. His family members, also at Tuesday’s conference, filed a wrongful-death suit after the shooting.
In June, the city announced it had agreed to pay $6.7 million to settle the lawsuit and explore requiring officers to carry video cameras to record incidents. The family also asked the city to dedicate Oct. 13 as a day of anti-violence.
Not much new was announced at Tuesday’s conference. Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams and City Manager Greg Nyhoff said they support using the body cameras in the police department, but more study was needed.
Officials are continuing to look at different options, and their findings are expected to go to the Oxnard City Council in the next few months, Williams said. She said she hopes to be using the cameras within a year.
“I see it as a tool to strengthen accountability, to capture critical information during incidents and also to protect our community and our officers,” Williams said.
A memorial in Limon’s honor, expected to be installed in La Colonia, also has been delayed.
City officials are working with Limon’s family on the design, Williams said Tuesday.
Williams said that although nothing can be done to bring Limon back, the city and family are working on ways to keep his memory alive.
She continued to stand by her officers, saying they, too, were affected by Limon’s death.
“They were faced by a terrible set of circumstances and they were forced to make a terrible decision,” Williams said. “The Oxnard Police Department is committed to learning from this tragedy.”
She said the administration will incorporate what it has learned from the Limon incident into reality-based training in the future.
Williams said police brutality became part of the national conversation again after an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed an unarmed black man. Williams said her administration holds officers accountable for their actions, and the department is transparent, while still keeping the community safe.
“We aren’t Ferguson, Missouri, we are the Oxnard Police Department,” she said Tuesday.
Police officers in Ferguson began wearing body cameras only three weeks after the Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown. Two private companies donated those cameras.
In July, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office announced that the nine officers involved in the Oxnard shooting will not be held criminally responsible, saying “although extraordinarily tragic, (the death) was legally justified and not a criminal act.”
Williams called for an independent agency — the Office of Independent Review — to also investigate the deaths of Limon and Robert Ramirez, who died of asphyxia while being restrained by police. Both that probe and Oxnard’s internal review are still pending.
After Tuesday’s news conference, Limon’s sister, Rebecca Limon, said a lot more could have been done by the Oxnard Police Department to improve training and prevent future officer-involved shootings.
“What happened to all of that training that night?” she asked. “I don’t think that anything is going to give us peace of mind.”
She is, however, hopeful that body cameras will prove effective in holding police officers accountable for their actions.
Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective, a local group that has rallied against police brutality, held its own news conference outside the police department Tuesday.
Daniela Garcia read a statement from the group saying, “The department’s management continues to avoid taking responsibility for its negligence and the pattern of practice that ultimately claimed Alfonso Limon’s life.”
She said Oxnard has been “an industry leader in the ugly practice of harassing and abusing our working-class residents and communities of color.”
The group invited the public to participate in a march Sunday evening to commemorate the anniversary of Limon’s death, as well as other men killed by police. The march will start at Camino Del Sol Park in La Colonia at 5 p.m.