In San Francisco we have a situation in which a fine young police officer was gunned down and murdered recently. Officer Isaac Espinoza, 29, arrived on the scene with his partner to question a 21-year-old gang member. Apparently afraid the police might say something about his AK-47, the gang member without warning sprayed some 50 rounds at the officers, murdering Espinoza with three shots.
Assuming a first-degree conviction, if ever there was a candidate for the death penalty, this senseless foul act deserves the death penalty.
The problem is that the citizens of San Francisco elected District Attorney Kamala Harris, who campaigned on a platform promise to never prosecute for the death penalty. The DA’s office is preparing charges which would ask for life imprisonment.
Groups and individuals asking Harris to reconsider her position include Sens. Feinstein and Boxer, state Attorney General Lockyer, the Police Officer’s Association, and newly appointed SF Police Chief Heather Fong.
Mayor Gavin Newsom has reaffirmed that Harris was elected on a no-death-penalty platform, and he’s not interfering with that.
When a police officer falls, we are all attacked and we are all wounded. We tender our deepest sympathy and regrets to the Espinoza family.
Please see our recent post “Death Penalty”. We sympathize strongly with those who would push for the death penalty in this case, but we have an even bigger problem with the way it has been presented to the public.
Like many other Hobson’s Choices in society where “the right answer” will never bring justice until the process is fixed, I relate strongly to aspects of the positions traditionally taken by both sides.
My problem is with people who cannot listen to the other side at all, or who think the system is working fine now. It isn’t. Opponents and proponents of the death penalty both need to drop faith-based soapboxing and look at a legal overhaul of the entire sentencing and review procedure. Don’t blame me if it’ll never happen in our lifetime.
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