Press Releases

Attempted Murder/Shooting

Release Date/Time: 9/14/2014 12:58 AM

Incident: Attempted Murder/Shooting

Report #: 14-090712

Date: Saturday, 9/13/2014

Time: 11:15 PM

Location: Curtis and Rodeo

A 23 year old male was walking in the area of Curtis and Rodeo when a vehicle, occupied by 2 or 3, drove up. One of the occupants shot multiple times, then drove away. The victim was transported by private vehicle to a local hospital for treatment from a non-life threatening gunshot wound.  This is believed to be gang related.

Release Authorized by: Sergeant Danny Warner

Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Frequently Asked Questions: Officer Involved Shootings in Salinas

First posted May 25, 2014. Updated Sept 5, 2014, 5:15 PM. (Español)

There have been four officer-involved shootings so far this year in Salinas, when the average is one per year. Many people have questions about the shootings, and we'll do our best to answer them here based on what we know so far. Please note that while the investigations go on, we can't speculate about conclusions, but we can offer information based on the evidence we have and based on police policies.

We'll be adding and updating questions and answers frequently, so please check back if you don't see what you're looking for yet, or if you have a suggestion, please contact us.

All of the people shot by police this year were Latinos. Are the police targeting Latinos?

Absolutely not. But we understand and acknowledge the emotions behind that question.

The Salinas Police Department has long followed strict policies against any form of social injustice. But as a community, Salinas, like much of America, has a painful history of discrimination against minorities. In our case it has often been Latinos who have suffered.

As a community we are still healing from that history – the process is not over.

But it is a fundamental principle for the Salinas Police Department that everyone, no matter what their background, must be treated with fairness and respect. Any police officer who violates this principle faces the strictest sanctions. If you're wondering why you should believe that, please see "Why should I believe you?" below.

Why have so many people been shot by police?

The four shootings by police officers this year are very unusual – in recent years the average for Salinas is one officer-involved shooting per year -- out of thousands of arrests and tens of thousands of contacts.

All the shootings are being very thoroughly investigated. When things happen in a cluster like this, it often looks like they must be connected – as in, "suddenly the police are shooting more people." But random clusters of events are common, and there is no evidence these shootings are connected.

If the shootings aren't connected, why did they all involve Latinos?

In Salinas, 77% of the population is Latino. That means that, all other things being equal, nearly 8 out of 10 of the small number of people who commit violent crimes would probably be Latino -- just because nearly 8 out of 10 people who do everything in Salinas are Latino. That includes all the good things, which are far more common.

In reality, more than 9 out 10 of the small number of people who commit violent crimes are Latino -- but not because they're Latino, of course. Mountains of research show that violent crime is more likely in underserved neighborhoods, meaning neighborhoods that suffer from poverty, lack of services and lack of opportunity. In Salinas, those neighborhoods are much more likely to be Latino. In other areas, it's other groups who live in underserved neighborhoods, and those neighborhoods also have higher crime rates.

In short, what we see in Salinas is that when police have contact with a violent person, that person is likely to be Latino, but that's because (a) everyone is likely to be Latino, and (b) violent crime is more common in underserved neighborhoods.

Why did Salinas Police ask the Monterey County District Attorney to handle the investigation of the July 10, 2014 officer-involved shooting of Frank Alvarado?

To get the best answers as fast as possible. Normally, the police department investigates officer-involved shootings and then the DA’s office reviews the investigation. But the police are occupied with other investigations, and this is the busiest time of the year. So to avoid delay, Chief Kelly McMillin asked the DA to take over this investigation from the start.

Why did the police officers shoot Frank Alvarado?

District Attorney Dean Flippo gave a press conference about the shooting the day after it happened and will continue to share information. Only the DA’s office can do that, because it’s their investigation. You can find widespread coverage in the local media, for example in this article from the Monterey Herald.

I read a story that says the Salinas police are guilty of "murders of innocent people" who were unarmed - what do you say to that?

A widely-shared story from AntiMedia.org radically re-interprets a responsibly reported story from ktvu.org. We hope you'll read our corrections, and compare the AntiMedia story to the ktvu.org story they re-interpreted. And if you've shared the AntiMedia story, we hope you'll share the corrections.

Why did the police shoot Carlos Mejia (the man with the shears seen in a cell phone video) when he was walking away from them?

They didn't. When you slow down and zoom in on the cell phone video, you see that the officers did not shoot Mr. Mejia when he was walking away, they shot him when he turned and attacked them with the shears. More context is added by a surveillance camera video as well as by a 911 call from a woman who said Mr. Mejia was trying to break into her house and assault her.

Police Chief Kelly McMillin took reporters through the videos and audio at a press conference on May 22, 2014.

  • See KSBW-TV's analysis of the cell phone video here.

Why didn't the police Tase Mr. Mejia?

They tried to, twice. The first officer fired his Taser, but it malfunctioned. Then the second officer fired his, but one of its contacts struck a telephone pole, which prevented it from having any effect.

Why didn't they shoot him in the arm or leg?

Although you see that happen on TV and in the movies, that's not what police are trained to do. When an armed person attacks, their first priority is to stop the threat to public safety as fast as possible. There are many cases of civilians and police being seriously injured or killed by armed, violent people who have been wounded. So police are trained to use enough force to stop the threat immediately.

Why did they shoot him more than once?

Once someone attacks, police are trained to stop the threat, both to themselves and members of the public. We can't at this point know exactly what the officers' judgment was, but it's common for police to shoot multiple times to stop a threat.

Why did they get close enough for him to attack them?

To stop a violent person with a weapon, police have to gain physical control of him, typically by putting him in handcuffs. They start by ordering the person to drop the weapon and surrender, and then need to get control of the person as soon as possible so they can prevent harm to members of the public.

Why did the police leave Mr. Mejia's body uncovered?

Police never cover a body before investigators arrive, because doing that would contaminate evidence. Instead, out of respect for the dead and in consideratiion of onlookers, they put up a visual barrier. That's what the police did in this case.

What is the police department's policy on use of force?

Please click here for a PDF of our use of force policy document.

Why did the police put up security cameras near the scene of the Mejia shooting?

Witnesses of the incident have reported they've been threatened and intimidated. The cameras are there temporarily to help with the investigation of the threats and intimidation and to help protect the witnesses.

Why have the cameras been taken down?

Two of them had stopped working (this is not uncommon -- we only have a few, and they're quite old), and the third was needed elsewhere.

Why should I believe you?

We expect to be held accountable by our actions, not just our words. Here are some of our actions:

After the recent shootings

  • We know that some people don't trust "cops investigating cops." We think if they could see how strict, thorough and impartial the internal investigations are, they'd change their minds. But because of the level of concern right now, Chief McMillin has asked for a total of three independent reviews of the police department's investigations. In addition to the standard review by the Monterey County District Attorney, Chief McMillin has asked for an additional review by the FBI and a third one by the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice.

Other actions

  • The Salinas Police and the City of Salinas are recognized nationally as leaders in reducing crime through a community-based strategy of prevention, intervention and re-entry services, working to reduce the need for enforcement. Salinas was invited to be a founding member of the President's National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, which is focused on community-based solutions to crime and on the recognition that "you can't arrest your way out of the problem."
  • Salinas is the leading agency in the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, (CASP) which brings together community groups, social services, the faith community, local governments and law enforcement around the Prevention-Intervention-Enforcement-Re-entry (PIER) strategy. Even though Salinas is facing severe budget shortages, it dedicates a full-time staff member to serve as the manager of CASP and give it every possible support. The Police Department is also facing shortages, and is seriously under-staffed, but it has assigned two full-time "CASP officers" to the Hebbron Heights neighborhood of the Alisal. These officers, who have been recognized nationally for their work, make very few arrests, devoting almost all of their time to assisting members of the community and building connections among families, neighborhoods, community groups and service providers.
  • Chief McMillin has committed the police department to the legitimacy and procedural justice model of policing, which holds that true authority comes not from the use or fear of force but from the trust of the community. According to a recent KSBW-TV story: "The method recognizes that people want to feel heard, feel respected and want to know their police are neutral and trustworthy." The Salinas Police Department is the first on the West Coast to train all officers in legitimacy and procedural justice.
  • The Salinas Police Department is among the pioneers in using the Operation Ceasefire strategy, which has led to dramatic reductions in violence in cities across the country while improving relationships between police and the communities they serve. Operation Ceasefire's originator, David Kennedy, mentions the Salinas Police in his ground-breaking book Don't Shoot: One Man, A Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America.
  • Chief McMillin was recognized by the White House in 2012 as a Champion of Change. The recognition was for his work to prevent youth violence within the community through Operation Ceasefire and the CASP strategy.

Annoy/Molest Children arrest

Yesterday, 9-1-14, an 8 year old boy was in a bathroom at Northridge Mall when a male, wearing dark clothing with a Batman logo on it, attempted to lure him into a bathroom stall.  Northridge Mall was able to obtain video of the suspect and still photos were later released to the media.  A Monterey County Probation Officer recognized the subject as Kevin Rodney Gray (34) and called salinas Police with the information.  Detectives were unsucessful in locating Gray throughout the day and other citizen tips came in identifying Gray as the suspect from the Mall incident.  At approxiamtely 1745 hrs, Gray arrived at the Police Department stating he knew police were wanting to talk to him.  Gray was taken into custody and later lodged into MoCo jail for Annoying or molesting children and violation of probation.  Gray is curently on probation for a similar offense involving chidren and is a registered sex offender.

Annoy/ Molest a Child

Release Date/Time: 9/2/2014 11:37 AM

Incident:  Annoy/ Molest a Child

Date: Monday, 9/1/2014

Time: 7:42 PM

Location:  796 N. Main Street (Northridge Mall)

On September 1, 2014 an 8 year old child eneterd a public restroom at Northridge Mall.  When he entered he was contacted by the pictured male suspect who was standing in one of the stalls with the door open.  The suspect engaged the child in conversation about the child's age.  The suspect then attempted to lure the child into the stall with him.  The child became scared and ran out of the restroom to contact his mother who was waiting just outside.  The child relayed what had happened and the mother confronted the supect as he exited the restroom.  The suspect fled before security could be notified.  In reviewing security camera footage the suspect was last seen crossing N. Main in an easterly direction.  The child was not touched or injured.

The suspect is described as a white or light complected hispanic male adult, approximately 25 years old, 6'1", 200 lbs., with blonde hair and unknown colored eyes.  He was wearing a black and yellow hoodie with a Batman logo on it, a black t-shirt with a yellow Batman logo on the front, black shorts, white socks and black shoes.  He has both ears pierced with Batman earrings or plugs and was wearing tinted glasses.

The Salinas Police Department is working closely with Northridge Security to determine the suspect's movements at the mall.  The Department is asking for the public's assistance in identifying the suspect.  Anyone recognizing the suspect is asked to cotnact Detective Kristine Fairbanks at 831-758-7322 or the tip-line at 831-775-4222 or We-Tip at 1-800-78-CRIME. 

Release Authorized by:  Crd. Dave Shaw

Telephone:  831-758-7271

DUI, Hit and Run, Threats to a Peace Officer

Release Date/Time: 9/1/2014 8:56 AM

Incident: DUI, Hit and Run, Threats to a Peace Officer

Report #: 14-081518

Date: Sunday, 8/31/2014

Time: 11:49 PM

Location: Independence Blvd / Nantucket Blvd

Omar Munoz (25) was driving his '87 Chevy pick-up Northbound on Independence Blvd at a high rate of speed. Munoz ran the stop sign at the intersection of Nantucket Blvd as the driver of a 2014 Chevy Silverado began to enter the intersection from Nantucket. The victim driver was able to stop before being broadsided but Munoz clipped the front end of the victim vehicle, which caused Munoz to lose control of his truck. Munoz's truck rolled over and then struck two trees before stopping. The truck was totaled. Witnesses saw Munoz run from his truck and flee along the creek bed nearby. Officers located Munoz at a relative's home in the 700 block of Danbury St. He had superficial injuries from the collision and was covered in mud from running in the creek. Munoz became extremely violent when officers tried to arrest him. A protracted physical altercation occurred before Munoz was restrained. Munoz was not injured as a result of the arrest but one officer did sustain abrasions from being thrown into a weight-lifting set. Munoz was taken to Natividad Medical Center for a blood draw and medical clearance prior to being booked into the Monterey County Jail. He was charged with DUI, misdemeanor Hit and Run and threatening a police officer.

Release Authorized by: Sheldon Bryan

Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Pursuit, hit and run, DUI

Release Date/Time: 8/26/2014 11:19 AM

Incident: Pursuit, hit and run, DUI

Report #: 14-081213

Date: Tuesday, 8/26/2014

Time: 9:20 AM

Location: W. Alisal St. / Fairfax Cir.

A traffic officer on a motorcycle tried to stop a black GMC Sierra pick-up for vehicle code violations. Emmanuel Garcia (26) sped off and a pursuit was initiated, which lasted for one mile. Garcia jumped out of his truck at Belmont St and Via Maria. Garcia left the truck in gear and it collided with a parked car. Garcia jumped a fence and ran across Davis Rd into the strawberry fields. A lengthy foot chase ensued but ended when a K9 officer arrived and ordered Garcia to stop or he'd be bit. Garcia surrendered without incident. Garcia was under the influence of marijuana. He is on probation for prior DUI's and his license is suspended. His truck was impounded for 30-days and Garcia was booked into Monterey County Jail for DUI, hit and run, felony evading, violation of probation and driving on a suspended license.

Release Authorized by: Sheldon Bryan

Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Commercial Burglary Arrest

Release Date/Time: 8/26/2014 10:20 AM

Incident: Commercial Burglary Arrest

Report #: 14-081205

Date: Tuesday, 8/26/2014

Time: 5:43 AM

Location: 1300 block of Burton Ave

Officers responded to an alarm call from an auto repair business. Entry had been made and officers could hear someone inside. Jeffrey Lynn Brents (47) saw an officer on the back side of the building and ran toward the front. Brents tried to run out the front doors but he was locked inside due to a deadbolt he could not unlock. Brents used a large tool to smash a front window and then dove through the broken window into the parking lot. An officer challenged him at gunpoint but Brents took off running. A K-9 officer gave a warning to stop or he'd send the dog. Brents immediately stopped and surrendered saying he was not going to run from a K9. Brents was considered a "low-risk" offender was an early-release candidate through the AB109 prison realignment program. He is on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) parole. Brents was booked into Monterey County Jail for Commercial Burglary and parole violation.

Release Authorized by: Sheldon Bryan, Commander

Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Armed Robbery, Stolen Vehicle

Release Date/Time: 8/26/2014 10:04 AM

Incident: Armed Robbery, Stolen Vehicle

Report #: 14-081197

Date: Monday, 8/25/2014

Time: 9:30 PM

Location: 900 blk of Acosta Plaza

Officers were dispatched to Sanborn Road & Acosta Plaza to an armed robbery in progress. The suspect, Jose Ramirez (22) entered a business in the 900 block of Acosta Plaza armed with a brick and demanded money. Ramirez took an undisclosed amount of cash and ran out of the business. Ramirez stole a Dodge Neon from the parking lot of 984 Acosta Plaza and left northbound on Sanborn Road. The victim of the robbery and the victim of the stolen car followed Ramirez and eventually flagged down an officer on Williams Rd. Ramirez exited the stolen car at Garner Ave and Williams Rd. and ran into the residential area. A perimeter was set and two police K-9's were deployed to assist with the yard to yard search. Ramirez was located by a K-9 in the yard of a home. He was hiding in a cactus. Ramirez surrendered after being confonted by the police dog. He was not bit or injured. The stolen money and vehicle were recovered and returned to the owners. Ramirez was booked into Monterey County Jail for Armed Robbery, vehicle theft and evading police.  

Release Authorized by: Sheldon Bryan, Commander

Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Armed Man, Under the Influence

Release Date/Time: 8/25/2014 12:42 PM

Incident: Armed Man, Under the Influence

Report #: 14-081123

Date: Sunday, 8/24/2014

Time: 2:30 PM

Location: Natividad Medical Center

Officers were dispatched to the area of Argentine Dr and Bardin Rd after callers reported a man acting strangely. The man was claiming that someone was trying to kill him and he was being chased by a subject with a rifle. The man began jumping fences through the residential area until the callers lost sight of him. The man eventually reappeared and was seen entering a green sedan. The witness told dispatch it appeared the man, later identified as Antonio Vidal Abundez Acosta (30) had carjacked the driver of the sedan. A short time later, officers located the vehicle in the Natividad Medical Center parking lot near the Mental Health Unit. A high-risk stop was conducted because officers believed this was a carjacking suspect. The driver was detained without incident and it was discovered that this man had been flagged down by Acosta near Bardin Rd. When Acosta told the driver he was being chased, the man agreed to drive him to safety. While driving away, the citizen realized that something was not quite right with Acosta so he drove to NMC and Acosta exited his car.

While officers were talking to the driver, NMC security called dispatch reporting a man with a gun was inside the hospital and threatening suicide. Acosta had run into the hospital and had a metallic object in his hand. The hospital was ordered to be locked down and numerous SPD officers and deputies from MCSO entered the facility to search for Acosta. After a lengthy search, officers could hear Acosta in a stairwell. He was screaming and striking the walls with the metal object. CIT (Critical Incident Training) Officers and officers from the Hostage Negotiation Team tried to establish dialog with Acosta from inside the stairwell. As this was occurring, NMC security called dispatch advising that none of the guards actually saw Acosta with a gun and that they did not believe he had one. Once contact was made with Acosta, officers told him to slowly walk down the stairs to them. Instead, Acosta ran down two flights of stairs and rushed the officers while still holding the metal object in his hand. Several officers were in place with both lethal and less-lethal options. The first officer to encounter Acosta could clearly see that the object in his hand was some sort of pipe with a wheel attached and not a firearm. The officer deployed his Tasers and Acosta fell to the ground where he was taken into custody without further incident. The object Acosta had been holding was a mechanical part from a pneumatic door closer assembly that Acosta had broken off a door in the hospital. The shape of the part was similar to a pistol. Acosta was not injured during the arrest but one officer sustained a slight sprain to a knee while searching multiple stairwells.

Officers eventually determined that Acosta was under the influence of narcotics. After being medically cleared, he was booked into the Monterey County Jail for several charges including being under the influence.

 

 

Release Authorized by: Sheldon Bryan

Telephone: (831) 758-7250

Vehicle Pursuit Suspect Update

Release Date/Time: 8/25/2014 1:00 PM

Incident: Vehicle Pursuit Suspect Update

Date: Monday, 8/25/2014

Time: 1:00 PM

Location: N. Main and E. Laurel Dr.

On August 19, 2014 officers attempted to make a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet Malibu.  The vehicle did not yeild and a lengthy pursuit ensued through Salinas and into the county area.  The suspect finally abandoned the vehicle on a ranch off of Encinal Road.  Although an extensive area search was conducted, the male driver and a female passenger eluded capture.  The male driver has been identified as Adali Mendoza.  He is a Hispanic male adult, 29 years old, 5'8", 200 lbs., bald with brown eyes.  He has several tattoos on his face including "C", "Jules" and "NSK."  He also has tattoos of a star and a huelga bird on his head.  Mendoza is on Post Release Community Supervision (PRCS) release and has an active felony warrant for violation of his PRCS terms.  Mendoza is wanted for evading arrest and the felony warrant.  Anyone with information regarding Mendoza's whereabouts is asked to contact the Salinas Police Department at 831-758-7321 or the tip-line at 831-775-4222 or We-Tip at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463).

Release Authorized by: Crd. Dave Shaw

Telephone:  831-758-7271

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