An anti-police community gathered Saturday in Buena Park to honor David Patrick Sullivan, a 19-year-old Chicano who was shot by the city’s police during a traffic stop.
The group of protestors called for the termination of the police involved and the reopening of the case.
There were about 50 people from Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties, including several families of victims involved in police shootings, marching in protest from George Bellis Park to the Buena Park Police Department.
Protestors marched through neighborhoods and city streets before stopping in front of the department building, right next to the Buena Park City Hall.
According to Christian Contreras, the civil rights lawyer who took on the Sullivan case, the Buena Park police were aware of Saturday’s event and wanted to be sure it ran smoothly. Contreras declined their help.
“They did reach out, but at the end of the day, this is a community event, this is a family event and we don’t need any police involvement,” Contreras said. “So I’m happy they didn’t show up because we don’t need them.”
Contreras spoke before the families and friends at the police department. “In the David Sullivan case, one of the officers said that David Sullivan had a gun. They had no evidence that he had a gun, they never saw a gun, they never found a gun and David never owned guns. Throughout the investigation, the officers stuck with that story saying that he had a gun. So even though we’re able to witness with our own eyes what happens, these officers still lie and they try to refute the objective evidence.”
In August 2019, Buena Park police officers Jennifer Tran and Bobby Colon pulled Sullivan over for an expired registration tag.
After Colon asked him to step out of the car, he quickly reversed into the police vehicle, a pole, a tree and a passing car before running out of the Range Rover yelling “Fuck you!” Colon and Tran opened fire soon after, shooting seven bullets that killed Sullivan on the scene.
Investigators later found an apparent suicide note in Sullivan’s wallet. Before the incident, Sullivan stole $1,000 in cash and other merchandise from his work at a gas station. The car was stolen, too.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office decided there was not enough evidence of criminal conduct to hold a jury trial and press charges against the two officers, and dismissed the case.
Sullivan’s mother, brother, and sister were present, each telling their grieving experience and stories of him.
“I don’t think stealing a car from your work is a death sentence in any city, in any state in America—that’s not a death sentence. Police are not the judge, jury or executioner and they never gave David the chance to take responsibility for his actions, they decided that he was a threat and they decided to kill him and that was the end of his story,” Sullivan’s sister Sam said in tears.
Friends and families shared stories of other victims lost to police shootings: Marco Vazques Jr., Vannesa Marquez, Ernie Serrano, Christopher Okamoto, Kenneth Ross Jr., Dillan Tabares, and Anthony Vargas.
Fullerton residents told the story of Hector Hernandez who was shot by Fullerton police last year.
The anti-police community of Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties held numerous events in the past and is planning for future ones in an effort to fight against police-involved shootings.