August 10, 2013

The Facts on Victim's Gun Release

Friday's Sentinel contains a letter to the editor that lashes out at the “police” for returning a gun to one of the parties involved in our homicide on Friday August 2nd.  The author of that letter appears to base his opinion on information contained in the original Sentinel article found here:

In addition to the letter author’s inability to refer to the facts in the article correctly, the original article misses some critical information as well.  More concerning is that the theme of this errant letter would be chosen as the headline letter to introduce the opinion page.  Here's a link to the letter page:

Here’s the facts of the gun release

In 2009, the victim in this case was arrested for carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle thanks to the good work of the Watsonville Police Department.  A record check at the time showed the gun had no registration information on file.

The court case was strung out over 2 years where charges were eventually pled to a Watsonville Municipal Code violation of 4-7.01 Discharging a Firearm (which didn’t actually happen).  Yes it is true, a known gang member carrying a loaded firearm in a car, and his case is pled to a Municipal Code violation of discharging a firearm in the city.  That’s not the police department’s fault. The officers did their job, locating this person arresting him and recovering an unregistered weapon off the street and out of the hands of gangs.

The weapon was returned to our homicide victim, not the “suspect”.  Prior to releasing the gun, the Watsonville Police Department did everything in their legal power to prevent it.  They had the gun checked through the IBIS system for matches to any other crime related guns, and they forced the owner to register the gun and get a Department of Justice clearance.  With the owner only being charged with a miniscule Municipal Code infraction, the Department of Justice directed the Watsonville Police Department to release the gun. 

For those of you that are troubled by this, your argument isn't with the police.  We don't get to write the laws and we aren't the judges.  All we can do is keep pulling the guns off the street and hope the rest of the system supports the effort.
Fascinating how “opinions” are most plentiful when facts are most absent.