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Baca to turn over Ruben Salazar files to civilian watchdog for review [Updated]

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Wednesday that he was turning over thousands of pages on the slaying of former Times columnist and KMEX-TV news director Ruben Salazar to the civilian watchdog agency that monitors the Sheriff's Department so a report can be prepared on the 40-year-old case.

Baca's move comes in response to a California Public Records Act request filed by The Times in March seeking records that might shed light on Salazar's killing by a deputy who fired a tear-gas missile that struck the reporter during a massive riot in East Los Angeles. Questions and controversy continue to cloud the Aug. 29, 1970, slaying, which left an open wound that has yet to heal.

"The sheriff wants to move this forward," Baca spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

However, it is unclear whether the county's Office of Independent Review will recommend releasing documents, according to director Michael Gennaco.

He said his staff would write a report based on its review of the eight boxes of records. If there is sufficient information, Gennaco said, he will assess the department's actions during Salazar's slaying and compare them with current policies and procedures.

"We're going to let the chips fall where they may," said Gennaco, whose agency is staffed by about half a dozen attorneys who monitor officer-involved shootings and allegations of wrongdoing. "Maybe there's answers in those boxes."

Salazar's daughter, Lisa Salazar Johnson, praised Baca for moving forward on the case but added that all the files should be opened.

"I feel they should be made public so everybody can draw their own conclusions," she said.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas also credited Baca for his decision but said he hoped the records would be made public.

"This is not meant to reflect poorly on the current sheriff or the current department as a whole. It is to capture the significance of history for our collective benefit and posterity," he said of opening the files.

[Corrected at 5:43 p.m.: An earlier version said Salazar was shot in 1979.]

-- Robert J. Lopez and Robert Faturechi

Video credit: Robert J. Lopez / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (6)

I'm sure the Deputy didn't mean to hit the newsmen. I dislike the wording the LA Times columnist uses "Slain by a deputy". What a ridiculous biased statement. Unfortunately, Mr. Salazar was a casualty of civil unrest. Blame the rioters not the Deputy. Our community wont change unless we start taking responsibility for actions.

I feel bad for Mr. Salazar and his family. What a tradgedy. But like the Mitrice Richardson case (which is a sad story also), many shifted the blame on Law Enforcement, when in fact, it was personal choice by an adult.

Wake up L.A. Let's get real!!!

Its way overdue Ruben Salazar was and outspoken, jurnalist and the voice for the people that had no forum, i strongly belived , he was at the wrong place at wrong time to me he is and icon not because he is chicano but for hunanaterian efort con /safos

Let's see if I got this right! The Office of Independent Review (in name only) is going to look over documents to see what will be released. Is this the same OIR that said that Baca did nothing wrong when he (Baca) illegally released Paris Hilton? Is this the same OIR that said that nothing went wrong in the Mitrice Richardson case? Is this the same OIR that failed to even ask questions as to executive perjury in the Pat Gomez case where tax payers are now paying out over a million bucks? The same OIR that never asked why the Academy was closed to cheating? The same OIR that owes it's very existence to Baca? Yep! The same!

Baca is such a nice guy! Don't you think?

If there was nothing to hide in this file...
why the concealment ?...
the concealment in itself protects injustice...
questions need to be answered and addressed...
no one is above the law...
mis-use of authority under color of law has civil
rights implications all over it to protect citizens
from public employees misconduct/crimes...
the Constitution protects citizens against public
employee under color of law who deprive citizens
of their fundamental rights...
tough on crime attaches to those public employees
who commit misconduct / crimes.

I was thinking if possible to get a hold of Mrs Liza Johnson Salazar, for an interview. I would appreciate the help in making that connection...I hope to hear from you soon.

gracias y saludos,

Jesus Santillan


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