Helping a Friend Ends Up Being Mistaken For Thief and Killed By Police

On June 2, 2013, Ricardo Diaz Zeferino and Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez were helping a friend look for his stolen bike.

Police responded to a call about a bicycle stolen from outside a CVS drugstore on Western Avenue. The police dispatcher mistakenly told the officers that the crime was a robbery, which generally involves a theft using weapons or force. One of the suspects was described as wearing a yellow shirt.

The officers headed to the area in search of two suspects. Sergeant Christopher Cuff saw two men riding bicycles. Mistaking them for the thieves, Sergeant Cuff ordered the men to stop and put their hands up.

Diaz-Zeferino, whose brother owned the stolen bicycle, ran up to his friends as they stood before the police car.   They tried to tell the police that the bike stolen belonged to his brother.

Cameras mounted inside the police patrol cars recorded parts of the June 2, 2013, fatal shooting of Ricardo Diaz Zeferino, who was struck by eight bullets. Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez, was wounded.

The Los Angeles County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice con­cluded that the of­ficers who shot the two un­armed men be­lieved one of them was reach­ing for a weapon when they opened fire. The DA’s office stated that its con­clu­sion was based on a re­view of video re­cord­ings cap­tured by cam­er­as in the of­ficers’ patrol cars. The LA times provides the DA’s complete report.

What the videos show is not what the DA’s office claimed that it saw. It claimed that one of the men reached into his pockets and waistband area. At­tor­neys for the men who sued the City of Gardena dis­agreed, say­ing the videos cap­tured by cam­er­as in the po­lice patrol cars show the “cold-blooded shoot­ing of clearly un­armed men.” The city re­cently agreed to settle the law­suit for $4.7 mil­lion.

The Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and Bloomberg wanted the video publicly release. The City of Gardena, California fought to keep the video secret. It had filed the videos under seal in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Acevedo Mendez and relatives of Diaz Zeferino, and fought to keep it sealed on the basis that it settled the case under the assumption that the video would remained sealed.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs argued that the recordings show that officers opened fire even though it was clear the men were unarmed. The city disagreed, saying officers couldn’t see one of Diaz Zeferino’s hands and believed he was going to reach for a weapon.

On July 14, 2015, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered the release of the videos, saying the public had an interest in seeing the recordings after the city settled the lawsuit. The dash cam videos show two perspectives of the incident. Both show police ordering the men to raise their hands. One of men keeps his hands raised throughout. The other lowers and raises them several times, at one point removing his cap. The officers respond by opening fire.

In rejecting the City of Gardena’s arguments to keep the videos under seal, Judge Wilson stated;

“However, [the] defendants’ argument backfires here — the fact that they spent the city’s money, presumably derived from taxes, only strengthens the public’s interest in seeing the videos,” Moreover, while the videos are potentially upsetting and disturbing because of the events they depict, they are not overly gory or graphic in a way that would make them a vehicle for improper purposes.”

More on this at the LA Times.

 

Posted on 07/15/2015, in Cases, Cops Gone Wild and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. yahtzeebutterfly

    I saw the video this morning and feel that it is very clear that Ricardo was NOT reaching for a gun.

    My heart is tearful that a precious innocent life was unjustly and, in my opinion, coldheartedly taken by a policeman who seemed too ready to pull the trigger. It was horrible to see his gun’s laser light on Ricardo’s shirt during the whole time.

    Where is the caring and compassion on the part of LE and their legal team for the tragic death of an innocent victim?? Seems as if they just want to save an officer from a charge and that they couldn’t care less about his victim. They never seem “to walk in the shoes” of the victim and his loved ones to be motivated to do the RIGHT thing and admit the wrong and the officer’s guilt. How thick skinned and unsympathetic.

    My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Two sides to a story

    Such a tragedy and incredible stupidity on the cops’ part, even if these were thieves. Until there are real consequences for overuse of force and “mistakes” not to mention making LEO and LE agencies responsible for paying for civil case awards, not taxpayers, this will keep happening.!

    Last I looked, death by firing squad isn’t the penalty for stealing a bicycle anyway. I’m utterly disgusted. These cops are killing people BECAUSE THEY WANT TO.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Two sides to a story

    PS – The Kelly Thomas murder (Fullerton, CA) on video was prevented from being entered as evidence at trial, and thus a jury found the murdering cops not guilty, and that case was far more disturbing than this one, since two cops fully participated in beating Kelly to death and four others assisted or watched. I predict that the public will once again pay for the civil penalties and these Gardena cops will go on their merry way because this shooting was a “mistake.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • Two sides, that has already happened. The DA cleared the cops. They were not charged. The city settled the violation of Civil Rights lawsuit with the family, and the city thought that would keep the videos sealed.

      What happened to Kelly Thomas shouldn’t happen to an animal much less a human being. The last I heard, one of the acquitted cops, Ramos, was refused service in local restaurants.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Baltimore PD’s FOP is blackmailing, threatening & worse to keep the *Blue Ban* on ANY charges for any cop for anything!
        They’re saying STFU about these serious issues- ACTUAL MURDER, Racism, etc. The libtards don’t matter& we’ll make sure those aren’t your issues, so leave us alone becuz we are dealing with a dangerous job. Don’t rock the boat!

        I think police think they can beat the change with brute force& intimidation.

        They’re trying to make ppl stop talking about it, stop protesting & make sure DA’s stick with the script, don’t they dare start arresting cops!

        The cops have murdered so many innocent ppl & there’s NO STATUE of limitation. I imagine lots of ppl within legal system have been involved in these kinds of serious crimes & they are rightly afraid of being put in a cage if Law Enforcement& cops were suddenly held accountable for their crimes.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Two sides to a story

        I live near Fullerton. I actively participated in the protests. I brought the case up as an example of how real evidence is suppressed in Cali and that could very well happen in the City of Cardena if the cops are indicted.

        Ramos may have been chased out of a restaurant by citizens – I believe he was served by the restaurant by patrons weren’t having it – but Cicinelli is now a postman in Huntington Beach and also is a little league coach. He is suing to get his job back, but the city of Fullerton says it won’t happen. The third cop, who was to be indicted, but never was because Ramos and Cicinelli were absolved of any wrongdoing, quit his job, but the other three are still working as cops in Fullerton.

        Kelly’s mother settled for about a million dollars back in 2013. Kelly’s father’s lawsuit is still ongoing. He’s more interested in the civil rights aspect of it than money. He’s also an ex-cop, making his case particularly poignant. http://blogs.ocweekly.com/heardmentality/2015/05/ron_thomas_kelly_thomas_guitar_cover_story.php

        Liked by 2 people

      • Two sides to a story

        PS – Some protestors and livestreamers charged with failure to disperse after the January 2013 Kelly Thomas protest at the Fullerton PD are the only people to have been charged in the case! Eight protestors have settled their case, but two livestreamers, PM Beers and AJ Redkey, who have pled not guilty, still have to go to trial in October, I believe. There have been lots of delays and continuances in their case.

        I believe this is a sterling example of how these killer cop cases often go.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. scrodriguez

    I would like to know why the F*%# Police had their fire arms drawn seriously what in the F&#K gives them the right to just roll up and draw their gun like that. The feds better come down on these MURDERERS

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You know what is strange about this? Rules of engagement for soldiers fighting abroad does not allow them to fire unless they are fired on first, but domestic police are?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The excuses of the police are ridiculous. As a Brit I must suppose that many American citizens are armed. If every armed citizen shot someone reaching into their pocket for a hanky or whatever because they thought that person might be reaching for a gun citizens would be shooting people all over the place. And I doubt that the courts would say – that’s OK because you thought he was reaching for a gun or you felt frightened. Looks like legalised murder more like apartheid South Africa than the “free” liberty loving, just United States. It’s a disgrace. I feel so sorry for those men. All over a stolen bike.

    Liked by 3 people

    • conartistocracy I so agree with you. You took every word out of my mouth.
      All over a bike for the love of God! This is insane.

      I have figured out. I will never call the police. Too afraid too for anything!

      Liked by 3 people

    • And, they were trying to help find the stolen bike, and tried telling the cops, who would not listen. Meanwhile, whomever stole the bike was getting further and further away.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. yahtzeebutterfly

    Off Topic:

    I couldn’t sleep last night…my heart has been breaking for Sandra Bland. I have been in tears.

    Please consider signing this petition at Change.org asking the Department of Justice to investigate her death while she was in custody at the Waller County jail in Texas.

    https://www.change.org/p/the-united-states-department-of-justice-attorney-general-loretta-lynch-take-over-the-investigation-into-the-death-of-sandra-bland-from-the-waller-county-texas-police-department

    The petition will also help you understand the “story” behind her death. I stayed up last night until 3:00a.m. There is NO way I will EVER believe she hanged herself on the day she was to get out on bond for making an illegal lane change. An hour before she was found dead in her cell she had asked to make a phone call. Also, she had a zest for living and was looking forward to starting her new job at her alma mater Prairie View A&M yesterday as director of student outreach. Also, she was very grateful that a witness had recorded the unjust treatment she received for not signaling when change lanes on the road.

    Here is the witness video of Sandra’s:

    In it she complains that she can’t hear and that the LE slammed her head to the ground. She knew how to advocate for herself and NEVER would have hung herself in jail and Sheriff Glen Smith stated at the initial news conference.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. yahtzeebutterfly

    http://www.trbimg.com/img-55a70513/turbine/la-2433411-me-0715-gardena-police-shooting-002-ik-20150715/580/580×386

    “Eutiquio Acevedo Mendez, left, who was wounded in the Gardena police shooting that left Ricardo Diaz Zeferino dead, and Diaz Zeferino’s brother, Agustin Reynoso, at a news conference Wednesday.” (photo by Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times / July 15, 2015)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Two sides to a story

    Breaking – This may help in Cali in the future with crime by cops – http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-grand-juries-bill-20150716-story.html

    Like

    • Two sides to a story

      Never mind – confusing – might make things worse! Business as usual. No one wants to touch cops.

      Like

  10. @ Xena – you know, this is 3rd world policing – whatever you do, don’t call the cops. What’s more, everybody is paying for this. Wouldn’t be so bad if the ruling lot were paying for the police out of their own pockets.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. There is no way,they had to shoot him! Damn!

    Liked by 1 person

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