Pubdate: Sun, 24 Sep 2000
Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Modesto Bee
Author: Mary Menz, Linda Apodaca, Therese D. Zirkle, R. Eric Grose, Penny Vilela
Note: Title supplied by newshawk and MAP editor.


Ignoring Important Points

The soul-searching that followed the tragic police killing of Alberto Sepulveda ignored some important points.

We hear that the real target was the boy's father. Are we to assume it would have been no crime if Moises Sepulveda had taken the police blast? Why would that not have been an execution-style slaying, as we hear drug people do?

The bigger issue is the war on drugs, long used to justify human rights abuses that we hear of only when some erroneously targeted family sues.

We have thrown good money after bad for decades, with the drug epidemic only worsening. Surely, the drug lords' worst nightmare would be decriminalizing their wares. If drugs could be bought at the pharmacy, with a pharmacist trying to talk you out of them, the inflated prices would drop along with gangland revenues; there would be no need for the violence surrounding the drug culture, and money now wasted on an ineffective war could go toward making rehabilitation available to all, not just the few fortunate enough to have medical insurance.

One might think that the intransigence with which our government refuses to look at alternatives to this drug war indicates another agenda that really has nothing to do with discouraging use of these substances.


Modesto, Sept. 21

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A Wrongful Death

It is tragic that the Modesto Police Department so quickly dismisses the death of young Alberto Sepulveda as accidental. It is more tragic that the community so easily agrees with the findings by the

We cannot confuse drugs in the community with the wrongful death of a child. It could have been anybody's child in Modesto, Turlock, Ceres or Stanislaus County. No one is listening to the father. If they wanted Mr. Sepulveda they (the various law enforcement agencies) could have arrested him at work.

Modesto cannot lull itself into thinking that these things can only happen in an urban setting. Modesto is the major city in Stanislaus County. If you have drugs and crime in Stanislaus, then things like this can happen.

We are all aware of the racial profiling that has occurred in urban centers. Drug bust or not; accident or not, Alberto Sepulveda's death was a wrongful death. I grieve for his parents, his family and his community.

Linda Apodaca

Turlock, Sept. 17

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Conflicting Information

I am extremely upset regarding the recent shooting of 11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda. This tragedy is heartbreaking. What concerns me equally is the way the Modesto Police Department is attempting to e

Most disturbing is the conflicting information being distributed to the general public. The police have stated a drug trafficking investigation has been ongoing since January 1999, and yet, they didn't know there were children in the home. I was under the impression that is what surveillance and confirmation of information was for. They have stated Mr. Sepulveda is an alleged conspirator in drug trafficking; yet a judge released him on a $20,000 bail bond.

Moreover, using the deceased child's height and weight as an excuse to these events is reprehensible. The child was complying with all police orders and was on the ground at the time of the shooting. My heart and prayers are with the police officer involved and the family of the deceased. This horrible burden and memory will be carried by all involved for the rest of their lives.

Unlike others, I am not so quick to convict a person without a trial. >From what I have ascertained, Mr. Sepulveda supports his family through his auto repair business. Because this man unfortunately used the word "stereo" during conversations to a stereo shop, this makes this man a drug trafficker and the raid justified?

I find no justification in women and children being forced to the floor with guns to their heads. Whether Mr. Sepulveda is a drug trafficker or not is academic. You do not endanger the lives of the innocent to arrest one person. In recent years, up and down this valley, there have been too many police raids that have resulted in a misinformation or wrong addresses. I sincerely hope the Sepulveda family run -- and don't walk -- to the closest competent attorney. Perhaps, if the city of Modesto and the Modesto Police Department paid out the big bucks a time or two, these kinds of tragedies won't be repeated.

Therese D. Zirkle

Modesto, Sept. 20.

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Blame The Voters

Don't blame David Hawn, the Modesto Police Department SWAT team veteran. Don't blame Moises Sepulveda, father of the 11-year-old victim. Don't blame the FBI team in charge of the operation. Don't blam

Alberto Sepulveda's blood is on the hands of the voters. They have elevated the war on drugs into their own bloody crusade! All elected public servants, including judges, rightfully fear that any perceived weakness on crime will result in their defeat at the polls.

We sit sleepy-eyed in our recliners, remotes in hand, watching as cops break through doors with battering rams and guns drawn. We hardly seem to notice or even care that our Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection has been looted. The public officials that everyone wants to blame are only carrying out our marching orders!

R. Eric Grose

Modesto, Sept. 20

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Better To Wait

The officers raided the home where the child was shot at 6:15 a.m. Why didn't they wait two hours until the children were in school? Why did they conduct this raid when there were very young children

I find it very hard to believe that an officer with over 20 years' experience would accidentally shoot an 11-year-old boy in the back. The chief says the shooting was an accident. How does he know this if the investigation is not complete?

Causing the accidental death of another human being is manslaughter. The officer should be charged, and the training of the entire department should be overhauled. Don't let the Modesto Police Department brush this boy's death under the carpet. He deserves better!

Penny Vilela

Oakhurst, Sept. 14
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