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Salinas keeps officer-involved shooting names under wraps

By Marissa Schwartz, Reporter, MarissaSchwartz@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Jun 11 2014 12:48:31 AM CDT
Salinas keeps officer-involved shooting names under wraps
SALINAS, Calif. -

Three-officer involved shootings in Salinas so far this year.  On Tuesday, we got our first look at the information the city is willing to share.  Central Coast News submitted a public records request to learn which officers were involved in those recent shootings.  The Salinas Police Department and city leaders are weighing in on the issue after a recent California Supreme Court ruling.

The city of Salinas isn't sharing the names of the officers in this year's three officer-involved shootings.  This comes after a recent ruling stating agencies must release the names unless it compromises their safety or they're undercover. 

The City of Salinas said all of the officers have had numerous threats made against them-on social media, written on walls and emails sent directly to the police department.  City attorney Chris Callihan said the March 20th shooting of Angel Ruiz at Wing Stop, the May 9th shooting of Osman Hernandez at the Mi Pueblo Shopping Center and the May 20th shooting of Carlos Mejia at the corner of North Sanborn and Del Monte Avenue, are still under investigation.

Community activist Jose Ibarra said the taxpayers are demanding the names of those officers involved.

"The concern that we have is more for the community not for the officers involved in these shootings.  Because from what we understand the officer involved in one of these shootings, at least one of them is the same officer that was involved in another shooting," Ibarra said.

Police Chief Kelly McMillin previously said one of the officers involved in Mejia's case, has been involved in two other shootings.  The city says the risk for the officer’s safety outweighs the public's interest of knowing their identities in these cases.  Ibarra said he disagrees.

"What makes us think that this is not the same officer and that there's a problem with really the officer and the way he is responding to emergencies and the way he's dealing with the community," Ibarra said.

So now, Ibarra said the same people who organized recent rallies are calling for Chief McMillin to step down.

"So this is not dead, this is going to continue, there's enough people to make sure that this happens," Ibarra said.

The city said even if all three investigations are completed down the line those officers’ names will never be released.