Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Couple sues Long Beach police who riddled their home with bullets

A Long Beach couple says it plans to sue the Long Beach Police Department in the wake of an officer-involved shooting last month. Members of an activist organization made the announcement today outside the Long Beach Police Department.

On the evening of May 14th, Elizabeth Bustamante says she and her fiancé, Jonathan Cabrera, had returned home after a day of church activities. She says they heard a knock on the door.

"My fiancé answered the door," Bustamante says. "I heard the door slam. I said, 'What happened?' He said, 'The police are at the door.' I didn’t know at that time, they had pointed a gun to his face."

Bustamante says her fiancé told her to get dressed. That’s when she says Long Beach police officers opened fire on her home with no warning.

"I counted over 30 bullet holes in my house. At that time, there was the bullet holes... riddled throughout the whole house," Bustamante says. "There was no focus and it went through my window. There was never entrance to my home."

Bullets hit Bustamante’s fiancé, Jonathan Cabrera, in the torso and arm. He survived, but now he faces charges that he resisted arrest and didn’t comply with police officers.

Police say they responded to an anonymous domestic violence call and that Cabrera was not cooperative and threatened to kill them. Officers say they shot when they thought Cabrera was trying to pull out a weapon.

Bustamante denies that.

Doug Kauffman is with the Long Beach Campaign to Stop Police Violence. It’s working with Cabrera and Bustamante to overturn the charges.

"The problems with the Long Beach Police Department are entrenched and all you have to do is look at the statistics to know this," Kauffman says. "In 2009, there were 17 people shot by Long Beach police and a couple of years before that, there was 14. The average is 12 a year who are shot by Long Beach police, the majority of which are unarmed and innocent people."

Kauffman’s group started after Long Beach police shot and killed a man named Doug Zerby outside a home on Ocean Avenue last December.

In that case, police say they thought Zerby was coming at them with a gun. It turned out to be a garden hose nozzle.

Kauffman sayys he wants justice for the shooting victims.

"In particular, having all the charges against them dropped, having the people who are responsible for Doug Zerby’s death, the people who are responsible for shooting Jonathan and the people who are responsible for the tazings and beatings of the other victims we’re working with to be brought to justice," Kauffman says. "They should not be on the force. Really, they should be facing criminal charges."

Kauffman says he wants reform in the Long Beach Police Department.

The Long Beach Police Department says it won't release any additional information about the Cabrera case until its investigation is complete. The police officers involved maintain that opened fire in self defense, when they thought the man inside the home had pulled a gun on them.

Original report here

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