In the photo his family shares of him, Guillermo “Memo” Amezcua is sitting in a shiny convertible looking at the camera. He looks serene and proud.
Now his family contends with the tragic mental picture of their father sitting inside a different car where, they said, he was shot numerous times and killed by San Fernando Police Department (SFPD) officers, alleging the officers didn’t give Amezcua opportunity to comply with orders to put his arms in the air.
The family members believe their father probably didn’t follow instructions because he likely didn’t hear them because he “was passed out.”
“They didn’t give him a chance to respond. They just started shooting from all angles,” said Guillermo Amezcua, Jr., the deceased’s oldest son.
“I do want justice for this,” Amezcua, Jr. added.
According to a statement released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau, the SFPD officers responded to a “shots fired” call around 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 10, near the corner of Fourth and Harps Street.
When San Fernando police got to the intersection, they found a man and a vehicle matching the description given by the police caller.
“When they [SFPD] attempted to contact the man seated in the vehicle, he was uncooperative, produced a firearm and fired at officers. Then an officer-involved shooting occurred,” added the Sheriff’s Department statement.
Amezcua, 48, was pronounced dead at the scene — which was across the street from his house — and no officers were injured.
Amezcua, Jr. suspects his father didn’t follow the officers’ orders because “he was probably drunk, passed out.”
In a news report from ABC7, Justin Griffin — who is identified as Amezcua’s brother — said what Amezcua had in his hand was a bottle, not a gun.
“As a community, we look to the people that protect us, and we want to know the truth — we deserve to know the truth. That’s why we believe every officer should be wearing a bodycam,” Griffin said.
As is standard protocol, the account of what occurred is given to the Sheriff’s Department by the police department engaged in the shooting. The case is then turned over to the Sheriff’s department for investigation.
Sheriff’s investigators have not yet indicated whether a gun was recovered at the scene or if SFPD officers were wearing bodycams.
The San Fernando Police Department is routing all questions and inquiries about the shooting to the Sheriff’s Department. Following the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol’s request to SFPD for specific information about the shooting, SFPD Chief Tony Vairo said in a statement provided to the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that they take the “gravity and tragedy of officer involved shootings very seriously,” and that they are cooperating with the Sheriff’s Department inquiry.
He also asked for the public’s patience as the investigation continues.
Challenging the Police Account
The family is questioning the actions that led to Amezcua’s death.
Amezcua, Jr. said neighbors told him the officers didn’t give his father a chance to respond to their orders to raise his hands and get out of the vehicle, and simply started shooting while he was still in the car.
He said neighbors have told him that at least six officers shot over 60 bullets at his father.
“They started shooting from all angles,” Amezcua, Jr. said.
The bullets impacted a nearby home and shattered the windshield of a car parked across the street.
Amezcua Jr. says his father was dragged out of the car after being shot and put in handcuffs.
“They took him out and put him on the ground. Why would you handcuff him?” he asked.
His father laid on the ground for more than 12 hours, Amezcua, Jr. said, before being picked up by the county coroner around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 11.
A large blood stain is now visible on the street, just feet from a makeshift altar with candles, flowers and photos of the deceased.
The The San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol attempted to speak with neighbors in the area; Some of them did not want to speak and others indicated they had not witnessed the shooting.
“A Good Person”
Born in the San Fernando Valley, Amezcua Jr. describes his father as a “good person.”
“He was always cheerful, loved to barbecue,” the son remembered, adding his father “often gave out food” to neighbors.
Amezcua worked for a cable company and was the father of six, the youngest ones ages 10 and 12. He also had eight grandkids.
Amezcua Jr. said that as far as he knows, his father didn’t have a gun and he is very suspicious of SFPD.
“That they (police) would plant one on him, I have no doubt,” he said.
He also noted officers went inside Amezcua’s home, something he finds suspicious.
“What were they looking for, to plant something?” Amezcua, Jr. said.
Previous Run-ins with SFPD
According to his son, this was not the first time Amezcua had a violent encounter with the department.
Two years ago, Amezcua, Jr. said, SFPD officers “beat the hell out of my dad” when he allegedly failed to stop, alleging the officers followed him and, when he finally stopped, took him out of the car and started beating him.
“They were kicking him on the floor when he was handcuffed, stomping on his face,” the son said.
Following that incident, Amezcua and the family filed a complaint against the department.
“This was retaliation. They knew we had a complaint against them. They knew who he (my dad) was,” Amezcua Jr. said.
Without more information, it’s hard for his family to make sense of what’s happened.
Amezcua Jr., said he tried to get to his father’s street after receiving a call in the middle of the night, but was not allowed to pass while streets were closed all around the area on Sunday as authorities conducted their investigation.
He has many questions about his father’s death and he wants clear answers.
One thing he said he does know: his father “didn’t deserve to go out like that.”
The Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau urges anyone with information regarding the incident to call them at (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.