Killing the Dead

by: Frederick Foote ((Header art is part of an exhibit entitled, “Law Enforcement — Police Brutality,” by Westfield New Jersey High School students.))

Fact or Fiction? A story seemingly ripped from the headlines where excessive force is overlooked yet again…

Bicyclist Dies in Truck Accident
San Juan Reporter, September 1st, 2016.

By: Darrell Gonzalez

A bicyclist died in a collision with a truck this morning on West San Juan Road in San Juan, California. The crash occurred at 7:50 a.m. under clear skies and on dry roadways, involving the bicyclist and a San Juan City refuse truck. Dr. A.W. Wilshire, a cardiologist, observed the accident and stopped to provide assistance to the victim, but determined the bicyclist had died instantly of massive head trauma.

A San Juan City Police officer responding to the accident arrived at 8:01 a.m. and questioned the truck driver at the scene. According to the officer and observers, the victim, a twenty-six-year-old black male, was “uncooperative and unresponsive” to the officer’s directions. The officer, fearing for his safety and the safety of the gathering crowd, shot the allegedly dead bicyclist three times.

The San Juan Police Department and the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office promised “full, timely, and transparent investigations.”

The officer was placed on paid administrative leave.


Accident Victim had Checkered Past
San Juan Reporter, September 2nd, 2016.

By: Darrell Gonzalez

Today, April Gordon, a spokesperson for the San Juan Police Department, distributed a press release stating that the body and dash camera footage of the shooting of the remains of Tom Wilson, a twenty-six-year-old black male, victim of a bicycle/truck accident on September 1st, 2016, and the name of the officer involved, will not be made public until the completion of the investigation.

The release also noted that Mr. Wilson, while not tied directly to gang membership, lived in an area of high gang activity. The SJPD release also stated that Mr. Wilson had an unpaid parking ticket, had been cited for jaywalking five years ago, and also had several long overdue library books.

While the responding officer involved in the shooting was not identified, the release noted that the officer was a nine-year veteran of the SJPD, a decorated Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and the father of eight-year-old twin boys.


Physician Decries Shooting of Accident Victim
San Juan Reporter, September 4th, 2016.

By: Darrell Gonzalez

Dr. A.W. Wilshire, a noted local cardiologist and past president of the San Juan Medical Society, described the alleged “post mortem shooting” of Tom Wilson, a twenty-six-year-old black male, victim of a bicycle/truck accident on September 1st, 2016, as “…macabre, senseless, reckless and endangering the public.”

Dr. Wilshire was a witness to the accident and the shooting. The cardiologist claims that he and the truck driver both tried to reason with the police officer at the scene. According to Dr. Wilshire, the shooting victim was already dead when the officer arrived. Dr. Wilshire stated the officer threatened to charge him and the truck driver with obstruction of justice if they didn’t follow his orders to vacate the scene.

The truck driver, Franklin Nunez, declined to speak to the media, stating that his employer, the City of San Juan, has forbidden him to talk to the media about the accident and the shooting. Dr. Wilshire claimed that, “Even Ray Charles would have known the victim was dead.” The San Juan Police Department failed to respond to our inquiries concerning this story, as did the San Juan County District Attorney’s Office.

This story was first reported on our sister television station, KSAN.


Police Chief Criticizes “Rush to Judgment”
San Juan Reporter, September 6th, 2016.

By: Darrell Gonzalez

San Juan City Police Chief, Mark Mohan, warned in an early morning press conference that individuals and media outlets making claims and statements about the alleged shooting of the corpse of Tom Wilson, a twenty-six-year-old black male, victim of a bicycle/truck accident on September 1st, 2016, “…are undermining the process of justice and needlessly and heedlessly inflaming passions.” Chief Mohan noted that “sometimes culprits will play dead and lie in wait to ambush law enforcement officers.” Chief Mohan also noted that seven police officers have been killed in California already this year.

When a reporter from our sister station, KSAN, pointed out that “four of those deaths were in automobile accidents, two were victims of law enforcement crossfires and one officer apparently accidently shot himself.” The Chief cut short his press conference and said “Media reporting can sometimes undermine respect for law enforcement, and in so doing make the world a more dangerous place.”


Protest of Police Shooting of “Dead” Victim
San Juan Reporter, September 9th, 2016.

B:y Darrell Gonzalez

This morning a group of approximately twenty-five protesters gathered outside the San Juan City Police Department to protest the shooting of an allegedly dead man by an unidentified SJC Police Officer. Tom Wilson, a twenty-six-year-old black male, victim of a bicycle/truck accident on September 1st, 2016, was reported dead when the officer shot him multiple times.

The police presence at the demonstration outnumbered the demonstrators two-to-one. Isabella Brown, speaking for the San Juan Peace Coalition, called the shootings, “sick, racist actions emblematic of American law enforcement throughout U.S. history.” Reverend Jeremy Stillwell called for a more peaceful protest and encouraged the faith community to become more involved in “Seeking justice for all.”

In related news, the San Juan Police Department released a statement claiming Mr. Wilson was in arrears on his child support payments at the time of his death.


Police Officer Cleared in Shooting Dead Man
San Juan Reporter, September 30th, 2016.

By: Darrell Gonzalez

San Juan City Police officer Jerry Bonta, a nine-year veteran of the force, was found to have followed department regulations in the shooting of an already deceased accident victim. The officer believed the accident was a ruse to ambush police officers. The corpse of Tom Wilson, a twenty-six-year-old black male, victim of a bicycle/truck accident on September 1st, 2016, was the target of the shooting.

The report noted that the officer attempted to clear the area before shooting and that the officer gave Wilson every opportunity to comply. The report concludes, “Officers have to make split second decisions and it would be foolhardy to require them to confirm the health status of threatening subjects. Officer Bonta displayed courage and care for the public during these harrowing moments. He is to be commended for his dedication and professionalism.”


Police Officer Exonerated by DA
San Juan Reporter, October 5th, 2016.

By: Darrell Gonzalez

San Juan County District Attorney’s Office exonerated San Juan City Police officer, Jerry Bonta, a nine-year veteran of the force, for shooting an already deceased accident victim three times. Bonta was again found to have not violated any “law or regulation” in shooting Tom Wilson, a twenty-six-year-old black, male, victim of a bicycle/truck accident on September 1st, 2016.” Bonta was recently cleared of wrongdoing in this matter by the San Juan City Police Department.

The report addressed some criticism of Bonta’s actions: “Officers are not required to rely on the opinions of other observers in evaluating threats. The responsibility for protecting him/herself and others is the officer’s alone.” The reported concluded there were no civil rights violations in the shooting because the victim was already deceased. The only fault that the report found was that Officer Bonta failed to promptly handcuff Wilson after the shooting.

Lastly, the report noted that Wilson’s bicycle did not have a working headlight, and that was in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 12.1.a.

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