Caesar Cruz hugging his mother Theresa Smith
Caesar Cruz hugging his mother Theresa Smith

Anaheim Cop Who Killed Joel Acevedo Also Involved in Police Killing of Man in 2009

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As the Weekly reported earlier, Anaheim Police Department officers involved in back-to-back fatal shootings in July have already returned to active duty. Not missing a beat, the Orange County Register's resident bootlicker David Whiting (who favored Fullerton police over Kelly Thomas) just happened to go on a ride-along with one of them for his latest dispatch.

The columnist opens his article describing scenes from a recent Friday night in the city sitting in the back of a patrol car with gang investigator Kelly Phillips and Sgt. Juan Reveles. A red vehicle is driving erratically according to Whiting before being pulled over. The driver has his hands up and says 'Don't shoot!'

On this occasion, Phillips doesn't, but has, in high profile cases--twice.

As the Reg's bootlicker writes, he was fact checking his print draft when the Anaheim Police Department just happened to inform him in the interest of transparency that Phillips was the officer who fired upon and killed 21 year-old Joel Acevedo on the night of July 22. Whiting recounts the police version of events where a short pursuit of a stolen SUV on Guinida Lane ended in an exchange of gunfire where a weapon was found between Acevedo's legs.

A day after the deadly incident, Acevedo's mother Donna Castro had called Theresa Smith, who lost her son, Caesar Cruz, in an officer-involved shooting outside the Wal-Mart at Anaheim Plaza in December 2009 and has since filed a civil suit against the city. As Smith mentioned on Democracy Now!, her sister and brother had been friends growing up with Castro. That's not all they would share in common.

Had Whiting read the Weekly's news story on the Anaheim Cruzaders, Smith's organization of grieving family members and friends who assemble every Sunday outside Anaheim Police Department headquarters denouncing officer-involved shootings, he would have come across Phillips' name once more.

On the afternoon of December 11, 2009, Caesar Cruz, father of five, had been driving his dark-green Chevy SUV when a tip came in about an armed parolee cruising the streets. It ended in a fusillade of bullets striking Cruz in the back at least nine times while still in his vehicle. As it turns out, he was not on parole.

Police say that a gun was recovered in the vehicle, but have never specified what type nor whether or not it was used. The use of deadly force was investigated by the Orange County District Attorney's office as is customary practice and ruled "justified under the totality of the circumstances." One of the five officers involved named in the letter addressed to Anaheim Police Chief John Welter?

Kelly Phillips.

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