Justice Never Served…Five Years after the Murder of Rudy Cardenas by State Police.

In lieu of recent high profile cases of police brutality and murder, it is important to remember that these atrocities are an ongoing epidemic in the Chicano and Black communities. On February 17, 2004, Rudy Cardenas, who was a father of five children, was shot and killed by state narcotics officer Michael Walker in San Jose. State Narcotics Agent Michael Walker had been a former police officer in Watsonville, where he had a history of reported misconduct (justiceforrudy.com). Moreover, the murders of Oscar Grant and Rudy Cardenas have three things in common: both were shot in the back by the officers, both were unarmed and both officers in the case are being defended with attorneys recommended by the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) Legal Defense Fund.

Parole agents targeted Rudy Cardenas after they mistook him for a parole violator named David Gonzalez. Agents who were conducting surveillance at Gonzalez’s’ address attempted to pull over Cardenas as he randomly drove by the location. Perhaps out of fear, Cardenas decided to speed away from the scene leading to a high-speed chase involving several officers. After a short pursuit, Cardenas abandoned the vehicle and decided to flee on foot. At that point officer Michael Walker fired his 9mm hitting Cardenas once in the back in a major artery. It took several minutes for police to clear the scene and allow ambulances to provide assistance. Cardenas died in route to the hospital due to heavy loss of blood.

Due to organizing efforts led by Jesse Villarreal, the Cardenas family, and Debug Magazine, there was an open Grand jury hearing. Walker was the first law enforcement officer to be put on trial for manslaughter in California. In addition, many marches, vigils and protests were held by these organizers to bring public attention to the Cardenas murder. The family also filed a suit against the State of California and Michael Walker.

Much like the current case of Oscar Grant, the defense team and mainstream media attempted to paint the victims as the aggressors and a potential threat to the officers lives because they thought they were reaching for a gun. At the hearings, Cardenas was accused of being “violent” and “suicidal” most likely that he had sought “suicide by cop.” In the case of Oscar Grant, Johannes Mehserle’s (the accused murderer) defense is attempting to paint this as an accident by stating that the officer involved thought Grant was going for his taser gun because he thought Grant had a weapon.

The attorneys involved in both incidents were recommended by the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) who coordinate a Legal Defense Fund for officers involved in cases of misconduct. Attorney Craig Brown, who is on a panel of recommended attorneys provided by PORAC, defended Michael Walker and in December of 2005 won a verdict of “not guilty.” Johannes Mehserle is currently being defended by Attorney Mike Rains, a former police officer who makes a living out of defending police officers accused of misconduct. Rains was successful in winning the acquittal of the “Corcoran Eight” a group of prison guards accused of federal criminal civil rights violations. Rains also won the acquittal of the “Oakland Riders,” a group of officers who beat, kidnapped and planted drugs on local citizens.

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