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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).

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The OC District Attorney’s office has published its letter from OCDA Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen J. McGreevy to interim Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada, detailing its “official investigation and legal conclusion” regarding the officer-involved shooting of Joel Acevedo on July 22, 2012.

Here’s the letter. I haven’t read the letter, but here is the conclusion:

“Based on all evidence provided to the OCDA, the entirety of the facts contained in the reports reviewed, and pursuant to the applicable legal principles, it is our legal opinion that the evidence does not support a finding of criminal culpability on the part of Officer Phillips and there is substantial evidence that the officer’s actions were justified under the circumstances when he shot Acevedo on July 22, 2012.”

“Accordingly, the OCDA is closing its inquiry into this incident.”

UPDATE: After reading the letter, I don’t see how any reasonable person can conclude the shooting wasn’t justified.  The evidence supports the testimony of Officers Kelly Phillips, Trang Pham and Daniel Lambaren. There is no evidence to support the cockamamie theory that the officers “executed” Acevedo and planted the gun on him.

As the letter summarizes the evidence:

  • Officer Phillips knew the individuals involved attempted to flee from police even before the police had attempted to stop them, that they had engaged in a high speed chase, that the driver was affiliated with a criminal street gang, that they were in the main area of the gang’s criminal activity, and that one of the fleeing passengers of this car dropped and then picked up a heavy object that was consistent with a weapon.
  • Officers Phillips, Pham and Lambaren were dressed as police officers and engaged in a foot pursuit of these three individuals;
  • Officer Philips saw Acevedo in close proximity to his location and then heard gunfire from Acevedo’s direction;
  • When Officer Phillips heard the gunshots, Acevedo was in a position of advantage — i.e., Acevedo was concealed in the darkness behind a car while Officer Phillips was standing vulnerable in the parking lot;
  • Officer Phillips then saw Acevedo moving behind a car and he believed that he was in a “kill or be killed” scenario when he shot Acevedo;
  • After shooting Acevedo, Officer Phillips saw a gun in Acevedo’s hands;
  • Acevedo’s DNA was found on a gun located by CSI investiogator’s by Acevedo’;s feet;
  • 3 expended cartridges were found near Acevedo that were found to have been fired from Acevedo’s firearm;
  • A bullet fired from Acevedo’s gun was located in the parking lot behind the area where Officer Phillips had stood prior to shooting at Acevedo.

Put more simply: Joel Acevedo was a gang member with a  criminal record. He was high on drugs while a passenger in a stolen car whose driver was fleeing police; he jumped out of the car and ran away from the police; he then hid among parked cars and fired several rounds from a concealed position at the pursuing officer, who was in an exposed position — and the officer fired back. Three ejected casings and a fired bullet from Acevedo’s gun were recovered and Acevedo’s DNA was on the pistol.

The driver of the stolen SUV and source of the “Joel Acevedo was executed” story is shown to have no credibility.

Of course, there are those who will persist in believing — against all evidence — that the Anaheim police executed Acevedo and planted the gun. That is because to the conspiracist, the lack of evidence proves the conspiracy.

Durham LopezI spotted this ringing endorsement for adding a fifth layer of Anaheim Police Department oversight in the form of a civilian police oversight board: the Freedom Socialist Party!

The Freedom Socialist Party presidential ticket of Stephen Durham and Christina Lopez seized on the issue last year:

The weekend of July 21 saw another chapter in the long history of racist police violence in Southern California, with Anaheim police shooting to death two young Latino men. The Freedom Socialist Party campaign of Stephen Durham for president and Christina López for vice president condemns the extreme abuses of police power that ended the lives of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo. The brutal abuse continued with police reaction to protests of the killings, starting immediately after the shooting of the unarmed Diaz

The Freedom Socialist ticket takes the idea a step further and calls for the oversight board to be elected, have investigators, subpoena power – even a prosecutor:

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[Editor’s Note: the video in this post contains obscenity]

Last week, at a press conference following the Los Amigos meeting, Donna Acevedo led a press conference claiming “Working-Class Anaheim Neighborhoods Say “Enough” To Police Brutality and Harassment.”

Leaving aside the question of whether Ms. Acevedo and the half-dozen other participants can legitimately claim to speak for the working-class Anaheim neighborhoods, one of Ms. Acevedo’s demands was “a respectful dialogue with the new leadership of the department.”

Is this video an example of “respectful dialogue” she hopes to have?:

Wow – thank you for modeling “respectful dialogue”: stalking Anaheim police officer Kelly Phillips in his minivan at a carwash, calling him a “murderer” and dropping f-bombs.

The urbane, articulate videographer is some guy who uses the YouTube handle “Sinnah Back.” He’s a collaborator of Donna Acevedo’s (you can see her next to the back SUV at about the 40 second mark -“Sinnah” is asking her “where’s the other one at?”

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