The Orange County District Attorney’s office recently ruled the fatal Santa Ana police shooting of Ernesto Canepa justified, but that ain’t gonna fly with activists. They’re planning a demonstration with family members to demand a truly independent investigation, and that the officers involved in the shooting be fired immediately. The action is set to begin around noon tomorrow on the corner of Third and Shelton streets, where the shooting took place exactly a year ago to the date.
The OCDA’s version of events holds that Canepa became a person of interest in a robbery investigation. Surveillance footage led Santa Ana police to identify him as the owner of the Dodge Charger filmed in the incident. Officer Christopher Shynn and his partner visited the Tustin home of Canepa’s mother—only he hadn’t lived there for months. Tustin police coached the cops, saying he “likes to run and fight with police officers” based on their experience. On the morning of February 27, a tip on Canepa’s car led Shynn to the intersection of Third and Shelton Street in Santa Ana.
Additional officers cased the house they believed Canepa to be at when he suddenly emerged and ran into his car. Shynn got out of his vehicle and ordered Canepa to turn the engine off at gunpoint. He refused to do so and stayed shuffling around in his car. The OCDA report coined a new term in calling Canepa’s refusal to comply “pre-assaultive.”
Another officer threatened to shatter the window with his baton. At that point, officers claimed that Canepa put his car into drive and lunged forward. Fearing that police on the scene could be run over, Shynn opened fire through the window striking Canepa at close range six times in the head and neck. Investigators noted the car to be in drive and recovered a BB pistol from it, but no handgun.
The Canepa shooting drew controversy from Santa Ana to Mexico. Protesters descended on city council meetings to demand justice in the aftermath. The Mexican government joined in asking the Justice Department to investigate the shooting because Canepa was a Mexican national. Family members want the public to remember the 28-year-old as a father of four who loved to make people laugh.
In addition, protesters are drawing attention to the SAPD’s trigger-happy ways as of recent, claiming in a press release that cops have been telling young men in various neighborhoods, “It’s open season on you mother f****ers and you have [a police shooting] to thank.” See you this Saturday!