No Gun, No Witnesses, No Problem

Gustavo Orejel faces life in prison despite a total lack of evidence

There's a special unfairness to this case, however, that does involve the DA's office. Both Alison Gyves and Mark Geller, two county prosecutors involved in the Orejel case, witnessed a similar shooting. On May 20, 2003, Santa Ana gang-unit cop Derrick Watkins fired shots from an SUV on the way back to Orange County from the Staples Center in LA, where he and several companions had attended a concert featuring REO Speedwagon, Journey and Styx (see "A Tale of Two Shootings," Aug. 1). Gyves and Geller were among the passengers.

Despite those witnesses, Watkins won't be fired from his job or even charged with a crime. According to, a website run by activist Mike Madigan that tracks corruption in Orange County law enforcement, the LA District Attorney's office has opted against prosecuting Watkins. "According to our [source], the DA thought it would be too difficult to prove the cop shot a bullet, not a blank," Madigan reported.

"A blank?" Madigan asked. "Are gang officers allowed to carry blanks?"

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