Monday, April 6, 2009

Remembering a fallen hero ...

Photo of SJPD Officer Jeffrey Fontana, murdered in the line of duty, October 2001

I’ve been ultra-busy editing master’s theses for SJSU Journalism and Mass Communications students, so by the end of the day I am sick of words!

Last Thursday I attended the trial of DeShawn Campbell at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice to show my meaningless support to the SJPD and to Officer Jeffrey Fontana’s family.

Officer Fontana was gunned down by Campbell in October 2001. The prosecution should be resting with one more witness, and then it’s the defense’s turn.

Though I have no idea how the defense is going to defend anything.

Officer Fontana didn’t even have the chance to draw his weapon; it was in its holster when officers and paramedics arrived on scene in a normally quiet middle to upper-middle class neighborhood cul-de-sac. His car door was open, service lights/emergency lights were on, and in front of the officer’s car was a beat-up tan Hyundai. The car was quickly traced to a resident of East San Jose, to the father of eventual suspect DeShawn Campbell, who was known to have had possession of that car that early Sunday morning.

DeShawn went on the run for about 11 days, packing the murder weapon with him until he found a homeboy to dismantle the thing and dispose of it in pieces from San José to Monterey to the south, telling his friends that he'd screwed up and killed 911. When he was arrested by plainclothes SJPD officers (all of whom were wearing raid vests identifying them as SJPD), Campbell, an experienced felon, had the good sense not to resist but yelled “Call the NAACP!! Call 911!! I don’t know who these guys are!!” Once he’d been cuffed, he complained his cuffs were too tight.

It’s a good thing I had not been called for jury duty for that trial. For me, the fact that Campbell’s car was there, the fact Campbell went poof! for 11 days, that the bullet that was taken out of Officer Fontana matched bullets found at Campbell’s residence (I think in a wall or fence), well, that's plenty for me!

It is a sorry state of affairs that this trial does NOT have any regular media coverage. Officer Fontana’s brother Greg is blogging about it, and I did an entry on Trials and Tribulations last week.

I just don’t have a stomach for stuff like this. The taxpayers (you and me!) have paid for a private attorney for Campbell (NOT a public defender, initially this was a death penalty case [special circumstances] and I believe it was argued that there were no public defenders experienced enough). But the defense attorney persisted in his first action for his client: he got him declared mentally retarded late last year and the death penalty was taken off the table.

If you are interested, please go to Greg’s blog and catch up on what’s happened thus far. He’s doing a wonderful job of being there for his brother, keeping his memory alive and reminding the jury that some one died! And his mom Sandy is so beautiful and smart and motivated that Jeff is given justice. But on Thursday, testimony did not offer Jeff's name once ... not once … easy to forget why you are there. I pray nightly that the jury they’ve ended up with are wise enough people to NOT buy the defense’s whole story: De Shawn didn’t do it, a felon named McNary did it, even though that information comes only from McNary’s ex-girlfriend several years after the fact, with no additional details offered. There is no evidence whatsoever that McNary was in Campbell's car at all, yet Campbell's prints are all over the Hyundai (called "the Bucket" during testimony).

Between this case, the cop killings in Oakland (and now in PA) and the crap that we are listening to coming out of Washington, DC … this is a scary time in history. I’m not going to totally blame anyone proudly wearing the mantle of liberal/Democrat, but you know what? The kumbaya policies liberals have been hoisting on us all of these years have come home to roost. When granting freedoms, it is assumed that people will act reasonably and within the law. Wee, boys and girls, that isn't happening. Are there no Republican politicians left with enough testes to stand up to stuff like this?

I am seriously contemplating writing a book about this case. I’ve never written a book, and the only thing I’ve had published is an academic paper in Quest, which had several co-authors. The whole thing is just so … sad. An American success story—Jeff was learning disabled, as was Campbell. Jeff persisted to graduate from high school and onto SJSU. Campbell dropped out of high school, learned how to assault people, steal credit cards, and then use those credit cards. The two met, Jeff’s dead, and the taxpayers will be paying for DeShawn’s maintenance in prison for God-knows-how-many years. And cop killaz are “admired” in by their fellow inmates in prison, so he’s not going to be doing hard time. He’s going to be a gangsta celeb in the big house. I certainly hope he ends up in Pelican Bay, that’s a pretty nasty place.

Anyway, I likely will not be able to get back to the trial until Thursday; unfortunately work has to come first. But it sure doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about Greg and Sandy and wishing them the best, and for continued strength. Officer Jeff Fontana came from some pretty classy people. The City of San José and SJPD were lucky to have him, if even for such a short time.


Des said...

Did you catch the Oakland A's opening day ceremony this evening? Oakland P.D. all over the field, OPD on the uniforms... thank you As' ownership. Despite the fact ou've been running the team into the ground every year in the face of dollars, you showed some class tonight and honored the 4 OPD officers (and the Angels pitcher killed by a drunken repeat offender). Go OPD, Go As.

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