Today is the 1 year and 11 month anniversary of the killing of Luis Góngora Pat by two SFPD officers. District Attorney George Gascón has yet to make a decision, whether to charge his killers or not.
Like every month anniversary, the family will be gathered at the altar on Shotwell and 19th at 10 a.m. to say a prayer for Luis and inform supporters of any new developments. Facebook Event: 1Y+11M: Life of Luis Celebration!
A week ago, on Wednesday February 28th, the family of Luis Góngora Pat met for the first time with D.A. Gascón to discuss the on-going investigation into Luis’s homicide on April 7, 2016 by Sgt. Nate Steger and Ofc. Michael Mellone of the San Francisco Police Department.
Jose Góngora Pat and Luis and Carlos Poot Pat, brother and cousins of the deceased respectively, attended the meeting on behalf of the family. With them were Adriana Camarena, a member of Justice for Luis Góngora Pat, and Francisco Rivera, head of the International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University Law School (IHRC-SCULAW) along with two SCULAW students, Elena Applebaum and Daniel Williams. An observer, Irving Velazquez, from the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco was also present.
The D.A. George Gascón was accompanied by Andrew Law, Assistant District Attorney with the Independent Investigations Bureau; Alex Bastian of the Communications Department of the D.A.; and Cristine Soto DeBerry, Chief of Staff of the D.A.
Salient Points of the Meeting
1) The D.A.’s gave a very lengthy explanation about why the law makes it so very hard for him to charge officers.
The D.A. had on the desk in front of him, a printed copy of our mini-report: “D.A. Gascón’s Scorecard on Police Accountability on OIS, 2011-2017: A 100% Impunity Rate!” Confronted by the fact that he has so far guaranteed police impunity 100% in all OIS cases, D.A. Gascón insisted that the law made it very difficult to press charges against officers;
Why then, we wonder, did he ask the City for a $1.5 million budget to create a special bureau of investigations, if he thinks he cannot succeed in charging officers, according to his own theory of the law? Was that not fraud to the tax payer?
2) The family demanded that the officers involved in the killing of Luis Góngora Pat be criminally charged. They also expressed their sorrow and the pain the family has experienced in these nearly two years;
3) The new bureau of investigation, which was created with a $1.5 million budget by the D.A. to be more independent from daily dealings with police, has reviewed the evidence from the original investigation into the killing of Luis Góngora, and since its creation has carried out additional investigations, but specific details were not shared;
4) We provided the D.A. a list of the 8 eye witnesses that contradict the police narrative in Luis’ case to ensure that the bureau was in fact considering all facts;
5) The D.A. said he is 6-8 weeks away from a decision;
That would be between April 11-25.
6) The family will be invited to meet with the D.A. so he can communicate his decision to them, before he makes it public;
7) The D.A. is open to the State Attorney pursuing an independent investigation into this case;
Why, we wonder, does D.A. Gascón want to shirk his responsibility?
8) Luis Poot Pat suggested to the D.A. that if he could not carry out the job of charging officers that he should then come out and say so, step aside, and allow someone else to the job;
9) The members of the International Human Rights Legal Clinic of SCULAW explained to D.A. Gascón the level of international scrutiny that they were bringing to this case. To which D.A. Gascón said he welcomed the attention;
10) The D.A. ended the meeting by suggesting that the family go to Sacramento to change the law if they really wanted to make an impact.
At the start of the meeting, approximately at 11:10 a.m., SCULAW student Elena Applebaum asked D.A. Gascón for permission to record the meeting. He gave his express consent. The recorder was placed in plain sight on the table for the entirety of the meeting.
Below is a recording of that meeting that we make available to the public.
Right before the recording began, D.A. Gascón suggested we all introduce ourselves. Daniel Williams of Santa Clara University Law School introduced himself, then Elena Applebaum turned on the recorder after making her request for the rest of the meeting.
During the meeting Prof. Francisco Rivera provided interpretation between English and Spanish to the family of Luis Góngora Pat, who do not speak English, as well as to Assistant Attorney Andrew Law, who does not speak Spanish. Prof. Rivera’s interpretation can be heard during the recording.
We are working on a transcript but the recording is one hour and 16 minutes long, so we ask for your patience, as we also want to provide a good translation of any segments in Spanish which translation may not be heard.
We’ll peck away at the transcription:
DISTRICT ATTORNEY GASCÓN STATED THAT HE WOULD MAKE A CHARGING DECISION MAXIMUM BY APRIL 25TH
Minute 43:25 Camarena: “So when can we expect you to issue a decision, more or less, like in an approximate time that you are thinking about?”
Minute 43:30 Gascón: “We’re…We’re weeks away not months. So, probably, I would say, no more than six to eight weeks maximum.”
DISTRICT ATTORNEY GASCÓN PROMISED THE FAMILY HE WOULD INVITE THEM TO A MEETING TO EXPLAIN HIS CHARGING DECISION PRIOR TO MAKE THE DECISION PUBLIC
Minute 43:45 Camarena: “So, this will pretty much put us into the second anniversary of the shooting. And will you have the courtesy of meeting again with the family and informing them of the progress in the case?”
Minute 43:58 Gascón: “We always…We always, as we will in this case, notify the family or their attorneys, however, the family wants to be contacted. We invite them to come here, and before we make our findings public, we explain our findings and the rationale behind the findings, and we will do so in this case.”
Minute 44:19 Camarena: “Would you agree to have an update meeting say, 2 weeks from now, or…”
Minute 44:24 Gascón: “No. No because we are so close to… Because what we are doing by…This is taking time away from the work, which is totally reasonable…”
Minute: 44:35 Camarena: “So now we’re interrupting your work after 2 years, almost 2 years since Luis died and you haven’t given one report to the family?”
Minute 44:43 Gascón: “What we’re saying is that we are almost finished, and we’re going to bring you over, if you want to come over, and we’ll walk you through the investigation and our findings.”
Minute 44:53 Luis Poot Pat: [in Spanish. Tengo una pregunta. ¿Cree usted que podamos tener una reunión con usted antes de que tenga que salir a decir algo del caso de mi primo? Para poder prevenir a la familia.] “I have a question. Do you think that we can have a meeting with you before you have to go out to say something about my cousin’s case? So that we can provide advance notice to the family.”
Minute 45:05 Gascón: [in Spanish, “Sí, señor.”] Yes, sir. … [Repeats his commitment in Spanish to invite the family to a meeting with their lawyer prior to him making his decision public.]