Need for Police Accountability and Transparency After La Jolla Shooting

by on May 8, 2017 · 3 comments

in San Diego

“It is possible to be in debt, to be lovelorn, and to be racist. They are not mutually exclusive.”

By Anna Daniels / San Diego Free Press

The recent shooting rampage at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex in University City left one person dead and seven persons wounded. This is indisputable.

We also know that the dead victim and wounded were all African Americans and the shooter, who was subsequently shot by the police, was white.

Local news coverage of the event has unsurprisingly focused on the possible motives for San Diego’s scene of American Carnage.

While shooter Peter Selis’ troubled financial history and recent break up with his girl friend appear to provide reasonable motivations, the possibility of racial animus has become a contentious issue. Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said Monday that there was no reason to believe that the shootings were racially motivated. Zimmerman’s rush to judgement is concerning.

San Diego Democratic Party Chair Jessica Hayes has released a statement that questions the evidence Chief Zimmerman did or did not use as a basis for eliminating racism as a motive. It is worth quoting in its entirety:

“Less than 24 hours after the attack, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman declared emphatically there was no evidence of a hate crime in the shootings in La Jolla. The Police Chief made this unequivocal pronouncement despite statements by witnesses present that a white woman went to render aid to the mother of three who lost her life, but was told by the shooter to leave her alone, and this woman was not shot.

“A reasonable human being on hearing the witnesses’ statements would naturally consider if racism was a key decision-making factor in the shooter’s choice of victims. It is possible to be in debt, to be lovelorn, and to be racist. They are not mutually exclusive.

“It may be 100 percent true that this murder had no racial motivation sufficient to designate it a hate crime; however, because the Chief failed to disclose what investigation the police conducted within this extraordinarily short time-frame prior to pronouncing it was ‘absolutely’ not a hate crime, Chief Zimmerman has done our fine women and men in blue a serious disservice by her statement and forestalled further investigation to discover once he armed himself whether or not race propelled him to select the dead and the wounded as his targets.

“If we, the public, as reasonable people, knew prior to her making her absolute statement that the police did consider the statements of the witnesses present, and that their statements generated a police search of his computer, his emails, the groups he belonged to, what he has posted online, interviews with his family members, his professional colleagues and friends, a search of his living quarters for paraphernalia or other materials that would indicate whether or not race was a factor for this person in his daily living, then the victims, their families, and we as the reasonable general public would have the security in knowing the San Diego Police Department did not dismiss examining whether the victims of this unthinkable crime were chosen because of the color of their skin. Did this happen? If so, why don’t we know the results?

“The victims, their families, friends and loved ones, the communities, the City, the County, are all reeling, and all deserve to know about the thorough investigation conducted by the SDPD before the Police Chief announced there was absolutely no racism involved in his victim selection process.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page Geoff Page May 9, 2017 at 10:05 am

Shelley Zimmerman has proven in her short stint as the chief that she is not capable of the job. This is just one more instance. How is it possible that only black people were the victims and then say this was not racially motivated. That flies in the face of reason. But, what is even worse, as this article expresses, is how fast Zimmerman came to this conclusion. It’s time to look for a new chief.

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triggerfinger May 9, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Is murder worse because someone is black, or gay, or served in the military, etc.? Is it less of a crime or concern if he shoots a white person?

I fail to see why it matters all that much if racism was a secondary m.o., especially when the shooter is dead. And for the same reason, the police chief should not feel so obligated to make such a strong declaration.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page May 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm

If the only reason a person is murdered is because they are black or gay or served in the military, if they only died because of a label and had no connection to the shooter and had done nothing wrong, I’d say yes, the murder is worse.

And it matters to a lot of people, which was why I was critical of Zimmeman’s ridiculously quick assessment. Even if she were correct, she could have given it a bit more time and at least given the appearance of having conducted a thorough and professional investigation for those people who expect that.

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