Ever since the OC District Attorney’s office released its report stating the police shooting of Joel Acevedo was justified, a tiny but vocal gaggle of carping conspiracists refuse to accept that finding.  To do so would entail relinquishing their belief that the Anaheim police actually executed Acevedo.

One of slender reeds to which these paranoiacs cling is the “missing gun shot residue test” claim. Semi-sober blogger Vern Nelson at the hallucinatory Orange Juice Blog and Anaheim squeaky wheel Cynthia Ward brandish this claim like a sword.

“Matt, until the DA produces the powder residue tests on Joel Acevedo’s autopsy there are a lot of people questioning that shooting,” Ward asserted the other day. She has said the same thing on other occasions (along with her fellow conspiracy theorist Vern Nelson), presumably to ward off the unwelcome findings of the OCDA (and my hunch is the “lot of people” to whom she refers were probably all shouting and marching at the left-wing anti-police protest in Anaheim on July 21).

At this point, let me note that Ward’s moral authority, such as it is, is based on her self-appointed status as an indefatigable researcher who tirelessly digs until she unearths the facts — and by an amazing coincidence, the “facts” she digs up invariably confirm her previously announced speculations.

Which is why I find it curious she is still spouting the “Until the DA produces the GSR tests” line. The reason isn’t a mystery. It took me less than an hour and a few phone calls to find the answer.

The OC District Attorney Hasn’t Used GSR Testing For Years
The broad answer is law enforcement reliance on gun shot residue tests has declined over the years due to reliability factors. There are too many factors that can produce false positives. The FBI stopped using GSR testing in 2006 (although an agency spokesmen stated at the time the time the bureau retained confidence in the technology).

According to Anaheim Police Department spokesman Sgt, Bob Dunn (who is very easy to contact), the APD still uses GSR tests. The reason one wasn’t conducted following the Acevedo shooting? The OC District Attorney’s office, and not the APD, that investigates officer-related shootings — and the OCDA stopped using GSR testing about the same time as the FBI. Due to budget constraints at the time, the DA’s crime lab chose to discontinue GSR testing; presumably because it is wisest to devote scarce resources to the forensic techniques that will stand up best in court.

There you have it. No mysterious, suspicious reason for the absence of a GSR test. No conspiracy to cover-up a police execution of a suspect.

Which leads me to ask: why didn’t Cynthia Ward expend a portion of her fierce and furious research energy and skills to learn what I did with a few phone calls. Why does she instead continue clinging to the Myth of the Missing GSR TEST?  Given that she has, more than once, publicly entertained this truly fantastical notion —  that those three officers apprehended Acevedo, dragged him out to the parking lot, publicly executed him, fired a gun they happened to have on them to fake a shoot-out and then planted that gun on Acevedo — one would think she’d be motivated to direct her superhuman research skills to answering the question she’d been answering?  Frankly, I’m astounded any sober person would seriously consider buying into that scenario (unless they think they’re living in a James Ellroy novel).

Among other things, this simply confirms the enormous skepticism with which Ward’s interpretation of any set of facts ought to be treated.