Friday, October 8, 2010

Protesters demand justice in officer shooting

About 60 people gathered with signs and megaphones outside the Phoenix police headquarters Friday night to protest an officer involved shooting that left an unarmed domestic-violence suspect dead.

The protest was a follow-up to a memorial for Danny Frank Rodriquez outside the headquarters Thursday night, with approximately 30 people in attendance, according to coordinator and radio host Carlos Galindo.

Phoenix police officers Richard Chrisman and Sergio Virgillo responded to a domestic-violence call Tuesday, which resulted in the death of Rodriquez and a family dog.

Rodriquez's mother had placed the 911 call.

According to court records documenting an interview with Virgillo, Rodriquez was unarmed but there was a struggle. During the struggle, he said, Chrisman shot the dog; Rodriquez was shot later.

Rodriquez died at the scene.

Chrisman was arrested and faces felony charges, but his representatives, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, issued a statement in support of his actions.

Galindo said the protest represents the Latino community's desire to see Chief Jack Harris and Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley have Chrisman rearrested and charged with murder.

"We're not going to put up with the injustices and the abuse on behalf of the police," Galindo said.

Adults, children and a man dressed as Uncle Sam carried signs as they circled in front of the headquarters chanting, "no justice, no peace, no Phoenix police." One sign read, "We demand justice and respect for the Latino community," while another read, "Welcome to Phoenix, the capitol of racism."

A pit-bull and Labrador mix was among the crowd, wearing a T-shirt with inked bullet holes and the words, "Would you kill me too?"

Mesa resident Susanna Astarte said she joined the protest when she heard about the dog, saying her greyhound was shot by a police officer years earlier.

"I was so distraught that someone would shoot my dog," she said. "[Police] need to be retrained so that the first thing to do is talk first, Taser second, and shoot last."

Several speakers took over the megaphone and spoke to the crowd in Spanish, but Galindo and Manuel Martinez gave speeches in both English and Spanish. A memorial for Rodriquez with candles, photos and a cross, sat in the middle of the group.

Galindo recounted the events leading up to Rodriquez's death. The crowd burst into applause when Galindo shouted, "We demand justice. We demand a re-arrest!"

Martinez asked the crowd to support of the other officer, who he said could be considered "a snitch."

"Not all officers are bad," he said. "There are many good officers of all races. We need to support this officer."

Galindos said the protests would continue throughout the weekend.

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