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Response from Police Chief Raul Quezada regarding lawsuit related to the 2012 officer-involved shooting of Martin Angel Hernandez

Yesterday, I read inaccurate and inflammatory comments attributed to an attorney representing the mother of Martin Angel Hernandez, a gang member who was shot in 2012 after pointing a shotgun at an Anaheim Police officer. The attorney not only misrepresented the facts of the incident, which were thoroughly investigated by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, he also attempted to sully the reputation of our gang unit.

First, I would like to share the District Attorney’s Office’s findings:

“Facts:”
On March 6, 2012, at approximately 9:48 p.m., APD Dispatch received a 911 call reporting five to six males standing outside a white car in the alley of an apartment complex on East Wakefield Street in the City of Anaheim. The caller indicated that he observed one of the males put a handgun behind the driver’s seat of the white car and a second male place a handgun in his waistband…

“Legal Analysis:”
While discharging his duty as a police officer and in response to a citizen’s call for police assistance, Officer (Dan) Hurtado entered an alley at night with a known gang presence realizing that he would likely encounter armed gang members. Officer Hurtado then observed Hernandez, a well-documented member of a criminal street gang, armed with a shotgun, which was ultimately pointed at the officer. At the time the shotgun was pointed at the officer, the officer was in an open alley with no cover and believed, reasonably based on all the available evidence, that he was about to be shot. In addition, Officer Hurtado knew that an innocent civilian was standing in the immediate vicinity and in harm’s way. In order to neutralize the perceived threat, the officer fired his department-issued rifle. As discussed below and based on well-established law and all the known facts, it would be unreasonable and unfair to conclude that Officer Hurtado did not have justification to use his weapon in self-defense.”

I encourage anybody with questions about the case to read the DA’s nine-page investigative report: http://www.orangecountyda.com/docs/martin_hernandez_ois_letter.pdf

Officer Hurtado displayed professionalism and courage in protecting an innocent bystander that evening. This case illustrates the danger our officers face and the courage that they display every day in fulfilling their sworn mission to protect and serve the community.

As Anaheim’s new police chief, my top priority continues to be engaging all segments of the community. Since the unrest that occurred in the summer of 2012, we have resumed foot patrols, have added officers to our Community Policing Teams, started a Neighborhood Advisory Council and require our officers to record all police activity.

These initiatives and others such as our Junior Cadets and other Cops 4 Kids programs are designed to build strong and trusting relationships with the community we are sworn to protect.

Our mission remains protecting the community, maintaining order and preventing crime.

Although gang crime is down significantly over the past year, and has been trending down over the past decade, the reality remains that we have gang crime issues in Anaheim. The Gang Unit has played a major role in making neighborhoods throughout the City safer for residents, business owners, children and visitors. Enforcement and investigations are not the only roles of this successful unit, however. Youth Services and Safe Schools officers work in concert with them; focusing on prevention, intervention and diversion to invest in the next generation to provide opportunities and alternatives to the gang lifestyle.

APD welcomes new chief, leaders at every level

By Bill Rams

Chief of Police Raul Quezada receives a plaque and flag

Chief of Police Raul Quezada receives a plaque and flag

It’s an exciting new era at the Anaheim Police Department.

Raul Quezada, 44, was sworn in today as the first Latino police chief in the agency’s 144-year history. And joining him are new leaders at every level of the police department.

About 500 people packed an Anaheim Convention Center ballroom to congratulate the city’s 33rd police chief and the other promoted employees.

The appointment is a resounding endorsement of Quezada’s commitment to problem solving and community policing. Such a focus has gone a long way in strengthening bridges between police officers and residents of Anaheim.

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Chief of Police Raul Quezada’s badge is pinned by his son, Jacob, as his father, Augustin looks on.

“First, he believes in connecting with and serving our community,” said City Manager Marcie Edwards, who selected Quezada for the job. “And second, he wanted to create and support an environment where the men and women of the police department can do their best work.”

During his eight months as interim police chief, Quezada, who is fluent in Spanish, has won the respect of many residents for rebuilding trust in the APD — following civil unrest in July 2012.

“Community engagement will remain our top priority,” Quezada said, outlining the steps the department has taken since the unrest of 2012. “We will work hard to earn and maintain your trust, and we will be an open and transparent organization.”

As interim police chief, Quezada sought to ease tensions in the city by launching a series of community meetings with residents of several working-class Latino neighborhoods.

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Deputy Chief Julian Harvey pins his badge after an unsuccessful attempt by his daughter and wife.

He also created a Neighborhood Advisory Council, added foot patrols and had the department post police policies online. He has mandated the use of audio recorders and is looking to equip officers with video recorders that clip on to the front of their uniforms to capture their interactions with the public.

“We have come so far from the events of 2012 and we will continue to work side by side with the community and together we will continue to make Anaheim a safe place to live, work and play,” he said.

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Captain Ben Hittesdorf’s family – which includes Lt. Tracy Hittesdorf – pins his new badge.

Also sworn in on Wednesday:

  • Deputy Chief Julian Harvey, a 22-year veteran of the APD whose assignments have included bureau commander for crimes person, special events and gang enforcement; he’s also worked patrol, internal affairs, as a gang investigator, pilot, flight instructor and leader of the Orange County Family Justice Center.
  • Capt. Ben Hittesdorf, a veteran of the APD since 1990, has served as a sergeant in patrol, gangs and internal affairs, and as a lieutenant working as a watch commander and a commander in the areas of strategic service, air support, and crimes against persons.
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Newly appointed Deputy Chief Julian Harvey addresses the crowd as Police Chief Raul Quezada watches.

  • Lt. Jeff Hemerson, who joined the APD as a police officer in 1992. Hemerson has worked in patrol, traffic, community policing, family crimes, sex crimes, training and SWAT.
  • Sgt. Jonathan Yepes, who has worked at APD since 2006 as a patrol officer, gang investigator and most recently as a robbery detective. Yepes has also worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Downey PD.
  • Officer Adrian Yeo-Hyun Yoon, 22, a new hire, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology, law and society from UC Irvine.
  • Forensics Supervisor Mark Sveinson, a 23-year veteran of the forensics detail who served as a traffic control supervisor for 10 years.

Suspected serial robbery arrest, gang crime drop, chief search highlighted at meeting

Police believe the robbers hit 22 businesses in three counties and in some cases tied up and pistol-whipped their victims.

Thanks to a “really good job” by Anaheim detectives, Capt. Bob Conklin said Wednesday, police believe the robbers will no longer pose a threat to cashiers at pawn shops and fast food restaurants.

Conklin congratulated detectives, patrol officers and the Crime Task Force at a meeting of the police department’s top leadership for their work in identifying and arresting three suspects.

The arrest wasn’t the only big news at the department’s monthly crime analysis meeting, attended by about 50 people.

Detectives have solved all gang killings so far this year. Overall violent crime is down. And perhaps most encouraging, gang crime is down significantly across the board – a sign that the department’s new strategy to mix youth services with the gang unit is working.

The department also just completed its first “mobile” citizen’s academy – an effort to build closer relationships in the community. About 20 citizens graduated. Lt. Alex Orozco said some were asking how they could continue to engage with the police.

“They went in with a certain perception of what we do, and quite honestly, the perception wasn’t all good,” he said. “The feedback we got at graduation is they have a better understanding, and they were appreciative.”

Interim Chief Raul Quezada announced that the city will begin a nationwide search for a permanent police chief in October. They plan to have a recommendation by mid-December, he said.

Quezada also commended Det. Chris Masilon, who spent his own money to buy school supplies, clothing and new shoes for a child living in poverty who was part of an Orange County Family Justice Center program.

“It speaks a lot to your character,” Quezada said. “And I just want to thank you.”