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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Denver cops-more details

More details are emerging in the case of Frank Lobato, a 63 year old, unarmed man who was murdered by the Denver cops.

On Sunday evening, Cathy Sandoval phoned police from a McDonald's to report that she had been assaulted by her husband, Vincent Martinez, in their apartment. She reportedly gave the police a description of the 2 men who were in the apartment. The first was her husband, Vincent Martinez, the suspect in the case. She described Martinez as being 5'6 and weighing 280 pounds. She also told the police another man was in the house and that he was disabled. She described him as being around 5'2 and 120 pounds. She also told the cops that Vincent was unarmed.

The Police arrived at the house around 8 pm and knocked on the front door. No one answered so they requested a ladder from the Denver Fire Department. Neighborhood youngsters reportedly told cops that they had seen a man jump out the back window and run off. Vincent Martinez was the man they saw and he had run away as the cops were pounding on the front door. 30 minutes later, the cops used it to climb in the second story window.

According to accounts from neighbors, the police didn't identify themselves as they climbed into the house. A single shot was heard about 5 minutes later and at that point, eyewitnesses report that the cops began yelling "Get your hands up!' Presumably, the cops were shouting at Frank Lobato, whom Denver cop Ranjan Ford had shot in the chest as he lay in bed. Ford is claiming that Lobato "flashed" a soda can at him, causing him to shot him in the chest.

Those are the basic details at this point.

Meanwhile, city officials and Denver Cops are patting each other on the back in a display of self-congratulatory solidarity.

A headline in the Rocky Mountain News declares Police hailed for 'prompt release of facts' in killing. So who is haling the police? Well, one person is Mayor John Hickenlooper.

Mayor John Hickenlooper, who was flying to Washington, D.C., on Monday and could not be reached for comment, issued a statement that, in part, commended Whitman's "openness, honesty and prompt release of the facts of this incident." full article

Really, what other viable option did they have? They couldn't have covered this up if they had wanted to, as they had learned from the Mena Case. You had several people who witnessed the events who were sharing their version with reporters before Police Chief Whitman even publicly announced the "release of the facts." The man the police were looking for, Vincent Martinez, wasn't in police custody and several eyewitnesses had seen him leave the house before police had entered the house(eliminating a scapegoat for Lobato's murder). Cathy Sandoval had informed police, beforehand, that Vincent was unarmed and that Frank Lobato was also in the house. The cops couldn't claim that they were unaware of Frank's presence in the house. And seriously, how were the cops going to explain the sudden disappearance of Frank Lobato, a recognizable figure in the neighborhood, when the whole neighborhood saw him taken from the house, nude on a gurney, after cops crawled in the window and fired a shot. There was no way to cover this up and they knew it. Fessing up to it was the only viable option, so city officials should be more circumspect before they decide to heap praise on the cops for admitting that they killed an unarmed man.

The Denver Post is also doing their familar "blame the victim" routine. In an article with the headline Shooting victim had long police record, Denver Post reporter David Olinger writes.
Frank Lobato had a long history of trouble with police before a Denver officer shot him to death Sunday night.

As a young man, he had been sentenced to prison on burglary charges. He had been accused and acquitted of rape. In Colorado and California, he had faced charges ranging from urinating in public and driving with a defective taillight to disturbing the peace, assault, using illegal drugs and failing on various occasions to appear in court, according to state records.

Just two weeks ago, a Denver judge sentenced him to three years intensive supervised probation at a Salvation Army rehabilitation center.

....According to Denver court records, Lobato was not supposed to be living in his nephew's apartment. full article

The implication in this article is that Frank Lobato probably deserved to be shot. Granted, he was neither a suspect in beating Cathy Sandoval, nor was he wanted on any outstanding warrants, but he had a criminal past and Denver is a safer city now that he is dead. Never mind the fact that he was an invalid and needed help to perform the most basic of human functions. Never mind the fact that he was in his own room either watching TV or sleeping. Never mind the fact that he was never a threat to the cops who busted into his room. Never mind the fact that the closest thing he had to a weapon was an aluminum soda can.

No, these things don't matter as long as the Denver Police confine their murders to poor communities of color.


At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

really this whole thing with the cops is plain out bull shit!!
they shot my uncle, for no apparent reason if you count the pop-can?? really I dont even feel safe knowing that I could be shot if I had a pop can in my hand!
thank you for writing this article


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