Time: 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 5
Location: Rene Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon Street, Oakland, Calif.
Oakland, Calif. – Monday, April 4, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley released her investigation on the California Highway Patrol killing of Erik Salgado and shooting of Brianna Colombo in East Oakland on June 6, 2020.
Not surprisingly, O’Malley justified the murder by three officers who shot as many as 40 rounds into the car where Erik and Brianna sat unarmed. The family of Erik Salgado will hold a press conference Tuesday, April 5, at 10 a.m. in front of the Alameda District Attorney’s Office at 1225 Fallon Street in Oakland.
“It took her two years to say that it was ok to shoot 16 rifle bullets into my son for a stolen car,” said Erik’s mother Felina Ramirez in Spanish. “Erik was just 23 years old. His daughter Liliana has to grow up without a father. Where is the justice?”
The DA report relies on the word of the officers. Officers claimed that they opened fire on the unarmed couple in self defense, but their testimonies are inconsistent and contradictory. At times they claim that Salgado “rammed” their cars, another time that it was a “tap.” The report reads that Officer Rich Henderson stated: “I had briefed that we would not box in any vehicles.”
“CHP had them completely boxed in with their cars,” explained John Burris, attorney for Brianna Colombo and the family of Erik Salgado. “You can still see where the car Erik was in made impact with a parked white Lincoln car on the street.
“The damage was minimal. Erik was not attempting to run over the officers, he was trying to flee and then his foot came off the brake when they killed him.”
The report reads that Officer Eric Hulbert stated: “A moving vehicle, we’re not allowed to put ourselves into the line of danger, but I mean, if we’re there, we’re allowed to shoot them to defend ourselves or others.” The officers allege that they each thought different officers were in danger.
“The defendants keep changing which officer they thought was in danger of being run over. So far, the evidence is clear that no officer was in the path of the vehicle, and no one was in imminent danger of being run over,” said Ben Nisenbaum, who also represents the Salgado family.
“It’s pretty clear that this was a panic shooting largely caused by the senior officer at the scene, who emptied his 30 round AR rifle into the car and told the other officers to shoot their guns. The car wasn’t moving, and no one was in front of the car. We have uncovered pretty powerful evidence in the litigation as to what caused that officer to panic, and it wasn’t Mr. Salgado.
Burris said he was not surprised, but was disappointed at the decision to not criminally charge the officers. However, Burris noted, “the district attorney’s decision is a ‘bittersweet’ victory. Bitter because there is no criminal prosecution, but sweet because we can now go forward with the civil litigation.”
DA O’Malley refused the family’s request for a meeting with her in May of last year and ignored a petition by over 2,000 community members demanding justice.
“Our family is calling on California Attorney General Rob Bonta to open his own investigation,” said Erik’s father, Farhid Majail.
Attorney General Rob Bonta promised to repair the relationship between law enforcement and the public when he took office almost a year ago. He has spoken with family members of Californians killed by law enforcement including the family of Erik Salgado, Augustin Gonzalez and Sean Monterrosa, but has yet to bring charges in a single case.
“My family has experienced first-hand how the system meant to oversee law enforcement colludes with killer cops,” said Amanda Majail-Blanco, sister of Erik. “This report is full of rumors hinting at crimes my brother didn’t commit.
“The real criminal is officer Rich Henderson. In 2016 he killed 19-year-old Pedro Villanueva who, like my brother, was unarmed. Henderson fired 12 of the 14 shots himself – he is a rambo, totally out of control. He was also involved in the fatal shooting of his fiancée after a domestic violence situation between them.”
Rich Henderson was not held accountable for either incident. Instead, he was transferred to Northern California and promoted to sergeant, where he went on to kill Erik Salgado and shoot Brianna Colombo.
“The government is working to protect corporate profits and not public safety,” said George Galvis, executive director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice.
“Why is the CHP auto-theft task-force armed with AR-15 rifles? The sentence for stealing a car is not public execution and those officers are not the judge and jury. CHP recklessly endangered the community and stole a young man’s life for a car – and the DA justified it.”
California Highway Patrol was in the area investigating cars looted from the San Leandro Dodge dealership in the wake of the George Floyd uprisings. They were investigating a property crime for insured property owned by a corporation. Officers had automatic rifles, .40 caliber pistols, additional ammunition and in one case an additional shotgun.
“Once again DA O’Malley has violated the public trust by failing to protect residents from police terror,” explained James Burch of the Anti Police-Terror Project. “California Highway Patrol should not be allowed on Oakland streets, targeting Black, Brown and low income communities.”
The Justice 4 Erik Salgado Organizing Group is a project of the family of Erik Salgado and community members.
Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice CURYJ (pronounced “courage”) unlocks the leadership of young people to dream beyond bars and for police accountability.
Anti Police-Terror Project is building a replicable and sustainable model to end state-sanctioned murder and violence against Black, Brown and poor people.