Family of Unarmed Man Killed by Deputies Alleges Witness Tampering

The family of Jose De La Trinidad spoke out from their South Pasadena attorney's office Monday, where they announced the FBI should investigate the shooting death of their son.

An attorney for a man killed by deputies during a traffic stop in unincorporated Willowbrook alleged Monday that sheriff's investigators were trying to intimidate witnesses in the case and requested an FBI probe, a claim denied by a sheriff's department official.

South Pasadena attorney Luis Carrillo said sheriff's investigators tried to get one of two potential eyewitnesses to change her testimony about whether Jose De La Trinidad put his hands behind his head as ordered by deputies, or reached for a weapon.

Deputies did not find a weapon after the shooting.

Carrillo released a letter to the FBI in which he claims that sheriff's department investigators are obstructing justice.

"I request an FBI investigation into the circumstances of the killing of Jose De La Trinidad; and also an investigation into the efforts of the Sheriff's Department to 'slant evidence' and pressure witnesses. These efforts of sheriff's investigators appear to be an obstruction of justice."

Read Carrillo's letter to the FBI here. 

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore denied the claim.

"What's interesting is we haven't interviewed anybody ... we have nothing to hide," Whitmore told KCAL.

Family members of De La Trinidad, 36, who live in Inglewood, gathered in Carrillo's Fair Oaks Avenue office Monday to ask for justice.

De La Trinidad's twin brother, David, told KABC, "I feel empty. His wife feels empty. When I was a kid, I was always two, but now, I'm just one.''

"It's hard for me to believe that he was shot for doing what he was supposed to do," widow Rosie De La Trinidad told the news station.

KCAL reported that the driver, Jose's brother Francisco, was out on parole, and that family members said the brothers had been at a quincianera and that Jose went with his sibling to make sure he got home safely.

"All I know is we were leaving a family function. He never made it home, and the next day I learned on the news that he had been gunned down by police," Rosie De La Trinidad said.

Carrillo said he was not contemplating filing a lawsuit and was most interested in getting the FBI to investigate the case. He said the family is trying to raise money to bury Jose De La Trinidad, who had no criminal record.

The Shooting

The fatal shooting occurred at 10:25 p.m. on Nov. 10 in unincorporated Los Angeles. According to an incident report by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, deputies initiated a traffic stop for alleged vehicle code violations. As deputies approached the vehicle, the driver sped away.

The car then stopped in the 1900 block of east 122nd Street where [Jose De La Trinidad] "quickly exited the vehicle and raised his arm from his waistband,'' the report states.

In the report, Deputy Don Walker of the Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau stated, "Fearing that the suspect had a weapon, two deputies fired their deputy weapon, striking the suspect."

De La Trinidad died at the scene.

Francisco De La Trinidad sped away, authorities said, crashed the car at El Segundo and Avalon boulevards, ran and was quickly caught.


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