Salinas Police Under Fire For Killing Two Suspects In Two Weeks
SALINAS—Residents of one East Salinas neighborhood are demanding answers after two recent officer-involved-shootings in the last two weeks that have left two dead. Officers shot and killed Osman Hernandez on May 9 and then two weeks later they shot and killed Carlos Mejia.
The first incident happened on Friday May 9, around 7:20 in the evening when Salinas Police were dispatched to Mi Pueblo Food Center for a report of man acting erratically. Several witnesses reported that the man was attacking people and chasing them around with a large knife. When officers made contact with the man, they realized that due to his behavior, he was not going to comply with the officers.
After they attempted to get the man to drop the weapon, officers tried tazing him. As they were placing him in handcuffs the man pulled up his shirt exposing a large knife. The man grabbed the knife and pulled it towards the officers. Fearing that they were going to be stabbed, the two officers fired their service weapons, killing Hernandez.
Shortly after the Salinas Police Department declared that the shooting of Hernandez was justified, the family sent out a statement saying that the Salinas Police “Killed Osman like a dog as he laid on the ground” a family spokesperson wrote in a press release.
The second incident happened about two weeks later on May 20 at 12:14 after noon. Officer were called to a residence on Elkington Avenue from a 911 call that stated that a man was trying break into a home, and had threatened to kill the victim. The woman caller also stated that he had made sexual comments while make sexual gestures towards her, and she stated that he tried to kill her dog.
The initial call indicated the man being armed with scissors, but they turned out to be large pruning shears. Officers found a man walking down Elkington Avenue that matched the suspect description. As they made contact with the suspect, they immediately noticed a pair of large pruning shears protruding from his backpack. The suspect, 44-year-old Carlos Mejia, ignored numerous orders to stop and get on the ground, he also failed to comply with simple commands. The officers tried to Taser him, but that proved ineffective and Mejia continued to walk away.
As Mejia was walking, officers continued to repeatedly command him to drop the shears and comply. As Mejia neared the corner of Del Monte and Sanborn, he planted a foot, turned and lunged at the nearest officer with the shears raised. It is that that point the Officers fired their service weapons, killing Mejia.
A video posted to YouTube from a person on the street shows the officers following Mejia with guns drawn as he continues to approach a busy intersection, and finally the shooting. (Warning, this video has graphic images and strong language.)
“I understand the deep concern and anger expressed by some members of the community, based on seeing a view of the shooting from across the street, as shown in the cell phone video.” Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin said in a press release.
A few days later, while many community members were still angry about the recent shootings, many gathered for a protest march. As luck would have it in Salinas, another shooting occurred in the area. As officers responded to the corner of Del Monte Avenue and Mae Avenue, they were greeted by a large angry mob. Officers tried to render aid to 23-year-old Constantino Garcia, but the mob began throwing bottles, sticks, rocks and even bricks at them, preventing them from giving Garcia the immediate treatment he needed.
Garcia was eventually taken by Ambulance to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. While no one has been identified in the shooting, police have arrested 26-year-old Diego Garcia and charged him with inciting a riot, probation violation and resisting arrest.
As of this date, Salinas Police Chief McMillin has reached out and asked the Department of Justice to send a conciliation specialist to City of Salinas. Specialist Marquez Equilibria will be in Salinas some time this week. “This is going to be a very important conversation, one that will need time and attention.” Salinas Police Chief McMillin said, in a press release. “It will be good to have an expert, impartial third party to help with this problem.”
Monterey County Weekly: Family of Carlos Mejia, who was shot and killed by Salinas Police, prepare to sue city