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The Long Road to Justice

The Everardo Torres Police Killing in Madera

by SAL SANDOVAL

Not a single person’s eyes were dry when Melchor Torres of Madera , California recounted the story of his son’s murder while in police custody on the night of October 22, 2002. Melchor was an invited guest to the Merced-based October 7, 2011 meeting of the Central California Journey for Justice.  Especially heart breaking was hearing the song he composed in honor of his son Everardo and his mother and  brother, who have passed away in the decade since Everardo was gunned down while handcuffed in the back of a Madera police car. The police officer, a veteran of the force, supposedly mistook a service revolver for a taser gun and shot him.

Everardo was 24 when he was struck down.  He was a rising star as a boxer. He was already slated to represent the U.S. in the World Olympics.

It has been a long journey for justice for the Torres family. The family has taken a personal toll with the murder of their son. Mrs. Torres suffers several health problems, a 12 year old brother of Everardo who witnessed the shooting has suffered emotional problems and has not completed school.  Another brother has epilepsy. Melchor has personally traveled broadly seeking justice and support for his case, including trips to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Washington, DC, and Mexico.

Finally, the Torres family has been notified that there will be a court trial against the offending police officer for civil rights violations. This is scheduled for some time in April of 2012. There will be an annual memorial at Everardo’s tomb  on October 27th, 2011 at 4 pm at the Madera Calvary Cemetary, located on Avenue 14 and Road 28 and one half in Madera.  Further information on the case will be available there.

Latinos and Police Brutality

Everardo’s death is reminiscent of Oscar Grant’s killing in 2009 by an Oakland BART transit officer. In both cases, young minority men’s lives were cut short.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination “expressed concern regarding incidents of police brutality and deaths at the hands of law enforcement powers in the name of waging the war on terror (resulting in) the use of excessive force against people of color…(It’s not only continued post-9/11), but has worsened in both practice and severity” prompting a NAACP representative to call it the “worst I’ve seen in 50 years.”

Amnesty International points out that although most US police departments stipulate that officers should only  use deadly force when their lives, or others, are endangered, dozens of cases show they do it indiscriminately, at most being “mildly disciplined” even if guilty of serious misconduct.

SAL SANDOVAL is a family physician in Merced, California who has practiced for over 30 years with farm laborers, homeless, and the rural poor.