But For Video: Executed for Jaywalking

Jonathan Cuevas was a jaywalker.  That’s right, a jaywalker.  And jaywalking is an offense.  This means that those who are of the view that the simple solution to whatever stems from the commission of an offense is, by definition, justified. After all, Cuevas chose to jaywalk. He chose to commit the offense. So he has no one to blame for his killing than himself.

And if this is what you think, then you have lost any shred of humanity. 

From KPCC :

Jonathan Cuevas was out late in Lynwood on October 10, 2010 with two friends walking to a house party. They stopped at a liquor store on Long Beach Boulevard to buy beer and snacks. The group of men jaywalked across the street around 1:45 a.m. when a deputy patrol car pulled up to cite them for an alleged pedestrian violation.

Cuevas ran.  The LA County deputy, who inexplicably is unnamed in the report. either wasn’t in the mood for this lack of respect or didn’t feel like running after a kid down for a jaywalking ticket.  So rather than give chase, he shot.

While the “coup de grace” makes for a dramatic flair, not a single shot fired can be rationally explained.  For jaywalking?  We don’t kill people for jaywalking.  Not even jaywalking plus contempt of cop.  It’s just not a crime for which the death penalty is imposed, even on the streets of L.A.

But then, it’s never quite so simple.  The police, who have thoroughly investigated what happened and concluded that the unnamed deputy should get a medal, claim that Cuevas had a gun.

A Sheriff’s department incident report says the deputy involved, Julio Jove, says he saw Cuevas pull a handgun from his waistband and point it at him. But Cuevas’ relatives maintain that the surveillance video doesn’t show that.

“It doesn’t show that he makes a threat to the officer. He’s running. He gets shot in the back and he falls
down and the officer stands over him and continues to shoot him,” said Mayra Murrillo, Cuevas’s fiancé and mother of their four-year-old son.

And why would Cuevas point a gun at police officer? To avoid a jaywalking ticket?  If anything, it would explain why he ran, but the cop wouldn’t know that he had a gun until he searched the dead body lying in the road.

It’s unclear from reports whether it’s conceded that Cuevas was armed or not. His family’s attorney notes that the gun was at first a silverplated gun, though in a photograph it was a black weapon.  That’s understandable, as the silver gun is way cooler and it would be a shame to waste it on a throwaway. 

Regardless, there were no prints from Cuevas on the weapon, but as anyone who has ever crossed a cop on a weapons case knows, it’s the police position that it’s almost impossible to find fingerprints on a metal gun except when they confirm the prosecution’s claims.

The gun is a red herring.  Notwithstanding the fact that the video fails to show anything remotely suggesting that Cuevas pulled it on the unnamed deputy, and despite the absurdity of such a claim, he was shot, again and again, in the back as he ran away.  There is no theory to explain an officer in fear from a person’s back as he ran away.  This, of course, didn’t stop the police from asserting with absolute certainty that it happened.

Yet, there is not only a lack of focus on what is clearly shown in the video, but the possibility that it was wrong to execute Jonathan Cuevas for the heinous offense of jaywalking was dismissed because the police and district attorney “investigated.”  After all, if they investigated and decided that this was a righteous shoot, what more is there to say?

Jaywalking. Another proud moment in law enforcement in America.




19 comments on “But For Video: Executed for Jaywalking

  1. C4

    Disturbing, yet sadly, not at all surprising. A very similar incident happened here in Las Vegas. However, the victim in here, Bernard Pate, hadn’t even broken the law when he was approached by a plain clothed detective late at night. Pate ran, and was shot in the back. Of course police say he had a gun, but not a single witness, including the officer who fired has officially confirmed seeing a weapon.

  2. SHG

    Allegations like this happen regularly. What distinguishes this incident is the video, proving that it happened when usually we’re left with a cop’s story and a dead body. Hence, the “but for video” title.

  3. stk33

    It has nothing to do with jaywalking. The officer shot him not because he jaywalked, but because he disobeyed lawful order and tried to flee. The officer is enforcing the law and is allowed to use any means necessary for that. If he sees that the suspect is running so fast that chasing him is unlikely to be successful, then he has no other option to stop him but to shoot. Officer’s mission is to enforce the law, so letting the suspect go is not an option, regardless of the offense.

    All the above is how the issue is likely to be seen by 99% of police officers. Regardless of your feelings about it, keep that in mind during your next encounter with them.

  4. Noah Clements

    What justification would 99% of police officers give for continuing to shoot the runner after bringing him down? Including a kill shot standing right over the suspect? Executed is right – there’s no other way to describe what’s on that video.

  5. SHG

    “The perpetrator assumed a threatening stance, putting me in fear of my life.”  Just because he’s lying on the ground with three bullet in his back is no reason to assume he isn’t dangerous. Sheesh.

  6. C4

    So your saying that 99% of the police officers have no respect for the law? If it is an officer’s mission is to enforce the law, how is does breaking the law help him accomplish that?

    The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all suspects,[regardless of the offense] is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect. A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead.

    If you’re right and 99% of police officers disagree with the above concept , then 99% of police officers disagree with the Supreme Court, the constitution and the very laws they are supposed to enforce.

    You see those weren’t my words. Those were the words of Justice Byron White in Tennessee v. Garner where the court ruled the Fourth Amendment forbids the use of deadly force only to prevent escape if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

    All the above is how the issue is likely to be seen by

  7. SHG

    I think his point was to condemn the way 99% of the police will rationalize the killing of a person for fleeing a lawful order.  I don’t think he meant to suggest they were right in doing so.

  8. John Neff

    I would think a good BS detector would exclude statements of the form:

    99% of _________ (do, think, believe or whatever) _______.

  9. TomH

    Jaywalking is a gateway crime and leads to further offenses such as loitering and riding one’s bicycle on the sidewalk.

  10. mjm

    stk33 clearly says that the deadly force is used because the deceased failed to obey a lawful order, not for the jaywalking. If something else was meant the author needs help with his/her writing. As it stands I call “BS”.

    The law on deadly force is properly stated by C4 and is what is taught by any reputable police agency. Only when the person fleeing would pose an almost certain hazard to someone’s life should they go unapprehended is deadly force lawful.

    Actually, the 99% is probably close to the percentage of officers who would just wave goodbye to the runner.

  11. SHG

    Again, while the point is somewhat buried, I think you’ve misapprehended the purpose of stk33’s comment. He’s not suggesting that the cop “analysis” is correct, but rather that’s how most cops will think and justify the killing.

  12. Well-duh

    Hmmm…or is this report a distortion which fails to mention that the officer thought he recognized the victim as having a warrant out for murder?

    On the web and now even regular news we are told less and less about circumstances because someone wants your outrage.

    Keep in mind that many people are now against execution and in some growing group even jailing and arresting people for murder. “Judge not least you be judged” and “obviously minorities have aright and need an opportunity to get even”

    Of course police as humans are occasionally wrong as to identity but more often they fail to arrest and the killer kills or injures someone else.

  13. well-duh

    video is often not 100% of the story – does not include outstanding felony warrants which I suspect are why the police shot and why the department did not arrest or commit the officer to psych ward. Does not of course mean the officer was correct in his identification.

    Police will always have a chance of wrong identification as long as there are identical twins and look alikes.
    which is why all law enforcement should be voluntary acts of the involved citizens. With Freedom comes the risk of lethal clashes with others – take your risk or leave the country ..blah blah blah.

  14. SHG

    So I get the part where cops are human, cops can make mistakes, cops who makes mistakes shoot and kill people by mistake. Cops who kill people by mistake are just serving us, since if they don’t kill people by mistake, killers will kill someone else. And it’s okay to “judge” and kill, but not okay to “judge” the cop who kills someone because he made a mistake. Got it.  You are a very thoughtful person.

  15. cccc

    So your assertion is that the missing detail of “outstanding felony warrants” is a keystone detail here. And these warrants as so important that you “suspect are why the police shot.” These felony warrants, which are not convictions, nor are they death penalty sentences handed down by jury. They are warrants. A demand by the court to hold the suspect in order for him to appear in court. And you suspect that the police felt the best way to obey the court’s order is to kill the suspect, or anyone who reminds officers of the suspect.

    But I shouldn’t be concerned because they price I pay for the the “freedom” to walk down the street and risk being slaughtered by a cop who thinks I kinda look like someone that might be wanted for a felony is to just ignore when police just kill people just because they might be someone who kill people who look like someone who “might” have done something bad.

    Not only is that not a price I’m willing to pay for Freedom, living like that isn’t really living Free, now is it?

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