RICHMOND (BCN) — Although the district attorney’s office has already said it would not prosecute a Richmond police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in September, the man’s family is hoping to bring new scrutiny to the case.
Richmond police Officer Wallace Jensen shot and killed 24-year-old Richard “Pedie” Perez on Sept. 14 outside of Uncle Sam’s Liquors, located at 3322 Cutting Blvd.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office deemed the officer’s actions justified in a letter to the Richmond Police Department in January.
But family members say the district attorney’s office should take another look at the case.
With the help of the Oscar Grant Committee, a citizens’ group that investigates uses of force by the police, Perez’s family have identified four witnesses who they say contradict Jensen’s account of the shooting, Gerald Smith, a member of the committee said.
“All of our witnesses dispute the claim that our son was reaching for (the officer’s) weapon,” said Rick Perez, Richard Perez’s father. “It’s like a cover up or just being blind to the fact that cops can do wrong.”
Deputy District Attorney Barry Grove said the district attorney’s investigation was essentially complete, barring the introduction of any new evidence.
“We do a very active, thorough investigation headed up by myself and done with the assistance of a team of our inspectors,” Grove said. “We satisfy ourselves at the earliest stage possible whether or not charges are warranted, in the same way that you would investigate any homicide case.”
The Richmond Police Department completed its own internal affairs investigation into the shooting and concluded Jensen acted appropriately, Richmond police Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.
The Perez family also appealed to the Richmond Police Commission to launch their own investigation into the incident. According to a letter from Richmond City Attorney Bruce Reed Goodmiller, the commission declined to investigate the case because it had already been investigated by “both the district attorney and a neutral investigator retained by the city.”
“I am doubtful that a third investigation…would add any value,” Goodmiller said in a letter to the Perez family dated June 3.
With the assistance of civil rights attorney John Burris, the family filed a civil lawsuit in federal court in January. Burris said they have a trial date of May 2016.
“The Perez family has been trying to get justice and they’re not sure where to look for it,” Gene Ruyle, a member of the Oscar Grant Committee, said.
Ultimately, Rick Perez said he’s hoping that Jensen would – at minimum – be stripped of his badge and ability to carry a firearm or use lethal force.
Ideally Jensen would be prosecuted for murder, Rick Perez said.
“This guy did not do his job properly,” he added. “Everybody who has watched that tape of my son all say that the officer lost his cool. When someone is unarmed, that should change a whole lot of things.”