A group of protestors arrived at the National Night Out event, being hosted by the San Fernando Police Department, demanding justice for Guillermo “Memo” Amezcua who was killed in a police-involved shooting on April 10.
Police officers on Tuesday, Oct. 5, were confronted by a group of approximately 30 protestors at the event’s entrance on First and Macneil streets on what was intended to be a night to bridge relationships between the police department and the community. Police officers stood in front of the protestors, acting as a barrier between them and the event goers.
Protestors included Amezcua’s family members.
Chants of “you’re cowards,” and “Justice for Guillermo Amezcua,” and “How do you spell murderer, SFPD!” were hurled at SFPD officers by protestors who at one point stood face-to-face with police.
“We’re protesting to get justice for my uncle,” said a family member on Tuesday, who asked to remain anonymous.
One protestor was arrested. San Fernando Police Chief Tony Vairo said Ashley Shah, 24, of La Mirada, was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor battery on a police officer. After posting $20,000 bail, Shah was released.
The Amezcua family, led by son Guillermo Amezcua, Jr., and daughter Evelyn Figueroa, filed a lawsuit against the City of San Fernando in the federal Central District Court on July 23.
Attorney Dan Alderman, representing San Fernando, said a response to the suit has been filed on behalf of the City, but said he could not comment further on pending litigation.
The hour-long protest didn’t keep the event from continuing as actor Emilio Rivera (“Sons of Anarchy”), KTLA news anchor Lynette Romero and live music from Mariachi Tesoro de San Fernando and Full Clip kept the crowd engaged.
Approximately half of the seats set up in front of the stage at City Hall were filled with spectators.
The April Shooting
The action was another sign of tension between police and protestors over the shooting death of Amezcua.
San Fernando police were responding to a report of “shots fired” near the corner of Fourth and Harps streets on April 10, and found Amezcua sitting inside a vehicle matching the description police say they were given.
Sheriff’s investigators had released a statement saying,“[Amezcua] was uncooperative, produced a firearm and fired at officers. Then an officer-involved shooting occurred.”
The Amezcua family disputes this account, saying their father didn’t own a gun. Amezcua, Jr. alleges the SFPD officers didn’t give Amezcua the opportunity to comply with orders to put his arms in the air. He believes his father probably didn’t follow police instructions because he likely didn’t hear them due to being “drunk, passed out.”
A copy of the County Coroner’s office’s autopsy report obtained by the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol said the cause of death was “multiple gunshot wounds” and the manner of death as “homicide,” with the injury occurring as “shot during encounter with law enforcement.”
The report states Amezcua received “five total gunshot wounds” all at a range “indeterminate by exam.” Three of the gunshot wounds were deemed to be fatal.
The report also said Amezcua’s blood alcohol level measured 8% at the time of his death.
Kept Out of Police Station
After protestors took their action at First and Macneil streets, protestors walked over and locked eyes with police following the arrest of Shah, but officers would not let them enter the SFPD station.
As some officers standing outside started to change into riot gear, a protestor hollered, “They have no power. They’re murderers. And we will defeat them.”
John, a San Fernando resident who didn’t give his last name, was getting some food when he heard the protest and ran over to the police station.
He told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol that he was present on the night of the shooting of Amezcua. He thought there was a possible drive-by because he heard multiple shots and police officers.
“It turned out to be an innocent man that was just in his car, chillin’, didn’t have anything on him,” he said.
Vairo said the SFPD requested “support” from the Burbank and Glendale police, as well as the LAPD. A Los Angeles police helicopter hovered over the protest, shining a light on protestors as they marched down Brand Boulevard to Fourth street.
The protestors left the police station and marched in the streets before returning to their cars at the San Fernando Recreation Park. From there, Vairo added there were no additional arrests or action taken by police.
“As long as they didn’t break laws and no one was hurt, that’s the main thing,” the police chief said.
But the protestors sounded as if they are not going to be deterred in their pursuit of the justice they seek for Amezcua’s death
As a protestor was heard shouting on Tuesday, “They can arrest us, they can beat us, we’ll still be out here.”