For the past two months, headlines all over the country have been about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by Officer Darren Wilson. In the wake of the shooting, riots, protests, and marching have become just as much of the story, with much of these activities focusing on the fact that Wilson has not been charged with a crime (jurors have until January).
This past Thursday, October 23rd, there was similar protesting in City Heights. While those marching seemed to be doing it as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with others around the country, many were also there to commemorate Victor Ortega, a man who died under circumstances the marchers believed foreshadowed those that befell Brown.
Ortega, who was a 31-year-old married man and father, was shot two years ago after police responded to a call regarding domestic violence at his Mira Mesa home where he lived with his wife.
According to the official report, Officer Jonathan McCarthy was trying to arrest the deceased when a struggle broke out. Police spokesperson Lt. Kevin Rooney claimed that during the scuffle, one of the officers lost his gun, which then dropped to the ground and fired. A second gun was then used to shoot Ortega once more, providing the fatal bullet.
After reviewing all the evidence, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced that they believed the officer was justified in his actions and that they would not press any charges.
In light of the recent protests, a San Diego Police Department spokesperson released a statement respecting the protesters’ rights to gather peacefully.
It’s tough to provide much commentary on either case, as so much evidence is vague, missing or conflicting. However, hopefully they both serve as a reminder that you need to be familiar with a qualified lawyer at all times, in case the worst occurs. The sooner you can speak to an attorney, the better off you’ll be.