One: Weekly Facebook commenter Teri Short was to the point: “There should be a warning that this video is graphic.” She was right. The video she refers to was shot with a cellphone camera and uploaded to YouTube by a user named Curt McHenry; we then linked it on our Facebook page and website. The graphic video shows a man wielding a pair of gardening shears leading police on a slow-speed foot pursuit through a residential area about noon on Tuesday. The officers get within arms range and he turns on them, waving the shears with blades opened. The officers back off a bit, and the pursuit continues. This happens multiple times across the scrubby lawns in the working-class East Salinas neighborhood.
When the man nears the corner of Sanborn Road and Del Monte Avenue, a busy street especially in the middle of a workday afternoon, he appears to turn a final time; the officers, who have their weapons drawn, shoot him. I hear five or maybe six shots on the video; the mortally wounded man falls to the ground and dies.
The video cuts off after Yoanna Prieto, the Hartnell College student who shot it, unleashes a string of expletives at the police. “Why the f**k didn’t you guys taser him? You didn’t even try,” she wails.
What’s not on the video is what prompted the call for police in the first place: the man, who remained unidentified as we went to press, had reportedly jumped over a fence and into a backyard, where he tried to attack the resident’s dog with the shears.
A press release issued late Tuesday by the police also states the man exposed his genitals to the homeowner. And states that police used a taser on the man, but it failed to stop him.
“WHY THE F**K DIDN’T YOU GUYS TASER HIM?”
As outlined by Weekly reporters Sara Rubin and Dave Schmalz (see p. 12), Salinas residents – particularly those of East Salinas – are enraged; it’s the second fatal shooting by police in as many weeks, and the third of 2014. Numerous commenters call the most recent one an execution, a murder and say the cops are out of control.
I’m not an apologist for a rogue department, but I don’t think that’s what the Salinas P.D. is. I live in a fairly sketchy Salinas neighborhood and have had to call them enough because of it, and they’re always professional. (Yes, I know, I’m a middle-class white woman and it’s different for me. There. You don’t even have to email me that one.) Protesters who gathered at City Hall have called for a federal investigation into the department; I think the always smart Salinas Chief Kelly McMillan should call for one too, to assuage the community’s outrage and to clear his cops.
Two: I received a call from Chris Marohn, a local political operative (and yet an all-around nice guy), Tuesday afternoon before all hell broke loose in Salinas. This election season, Marohn’s repping Mike Richards for Sheriff and the No on O gang (the Weekly’s editorial board didn’t endorse Richards, and we went pro on O), so I figured answering the call was a crapshoot – or maybe about the shooting. “Ugggh, what? What did I do?” I answered, my usual greeting for him. The campaign, Marohn told me, asked him to call and find out what I intended to do about U.S. Rep. Sam Farr’s “No on O” opinion piece in the local daily (I use the term “local” loosely – the whole thing is run out of Santa Cruz). “What do you mean, the campaign? What do they want me to do?” I asked him. The campaign, he said, is Terris, Barnes & Walters, the San Francisco-based campaign firm running No on O, or, as I like to call it, NoO.
I don’t know that there’s anything to do with it, I said. Farr didn’t send it to us, he sent it to them. And we value exclusivity, don’t rerun editorials or letters that appeared elsewhere, etc. so I wouldn’t run it even if he did send it to me.
But still. I called Farr’s office and had a fast chat. He said it was the second time someone had called to yell at him about the piece. Only I wasn’t calling to yell, I was just calling for clarity.
In short: He thinks Measure O – which proposes a feasibility study for the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water District to take over California American Water – is bad timing. And potentially expensive timing.
So there you have it. No yelling involved.