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News :: Human Rights : Race
Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
09 Mar 2005
Jeffrey Baez was 22 years old on the early morning of December 4, 2002. He worked at McDonalds and as a freelance landscaping laborer, and dreamed of being a cartoonist. Jeffrey was born in New Jersey, and was living with his mother, Luz Minerva DiLones, a nurse's aide, south of Providence, RI.

But Jeffrey was unfortunate enough to be a young Latino man whose van looked, to Providence patrolman Merrick Cook, like one that had been reported stolen. Within minutes Baez had three police cruisers on his tail. After driving a few blocks, at what police admitted were low speeds, Jeffrey stopped the van at the corner of Potters and Dexter. The police radioed each other that he was about to "bail" out of the vehicle. Jeffrey stepped into the intersection and was knocked over the hood of Cook's cruiser. When he slid to the pavement, he was crushed under the wheels of officer Michael Otrando's police car.
Community supports struggle to make killer cops pay.
By Alex Gould, member of DARE

Jeffrey Baez was 22 years old on the early morning of December 4, 2002. He worked at McDonalds and as a freelance landscaping laborer, and dreamed of being a cartoonist. Jeffrey was born in New Jersey, and was living with his mother, Luz Minerva DiLones, a nurse's aide, south of Providence, RI.

But Jeffrey was unfortunate enough to be a young Latino man whose van looked, to Providence patrolman Merrick Cook, like one that had been reported stolen. Within minutes Baez had three police cruisers on his tail. After driving a few blocks, at what police admitted were low speeds, Jeffrey stopped the van at the corner of Potters and Dexter. The police radioed each other that he was about to "bail" out of the vehicle. Jeffrey stepped into the intersection and was knocked over the hood of Cook's cruiser. When he slid to the pavement, he was crushed under the wheels of officer Michael Otrando's police car.

The officers assembled at the scene admit that they checked for and found a pulse in Jeffrey, whose body was described in court testimony as "wrapped around the rear axle". But no medical rescue was called. Before dawn, Jeffrey Baez was dead. He was unarmed and no weapons were found at the crime scene.

After more than 24 hours, the police allowed Luz to see her son's body, through a glass pane at the morgue. "They [the cops] don't think you have feelings," says Luz, describing her treatment by the Providence Police, "They think you are an animal."

Luz, Jeffery's family, and the campaign against police brutality at DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality, a grassroots community organization in Providence), know that Jeffrey's death was no "accident". DARE members and others concerned with police brutality observed the proceedings of Luz's wrongful death suit against the City of Providence, giving her encouraging support as she and her lawyers tried to break the blue wall of silence and lies around Jeffrey's death.

On the stand, police officers contradicted earlier sworn depositions about their locations and communications on December 4th, and admitted to moving the body and the police cruisers, crucial for the scientific reconstruction of the collision, before the official departmental investigation. But after three days of testimony, and a brief deliberation interrupted by two fire alarms, the jury found the city of Providence Not Liable on Wednesday, March 2.

Luz and the entire DARE police committee said that their fight for justice was not over. The police committee members are planning a public response.

As one DARE activist commented during the recess, whatever the outcome, the court proceedings can obscure the class truth as much as they reveal it. The legal back and forth and the juries findings will never answer why it is even necessary to put Luz and all of Jeffrey's friends and supporters through months of expensive procedures to be compensated for his "wrongful death". How could Jeffrey's gruesome killing have ever been "right"? How could the officers, and the Providence Police department as a whole, be exonerated for their role as judge, jury, and executioner when they caught Jeffrey Driving While Latino on December 4, 2002? Why would police officers engage in a life-threatening chase over an alleged crime of property? Why is the threat of public humiliation and abuse at the hands of police officers so present in the minds of Black and Latin@ youth that, as one DARE activist noted at a police brutality committee meeting, they will almost always risk greater harm and arrest by running away? How can there be equal justice under the law in a state where immigrant workers are denied the right to drive, one in five black men are denied their right to vote, and thousands are denied their rights to jobs, housing, health care, and other vital necessities?

Only a militant broad-based struggle for socialism can resolve these burning questions.
See also:
http://www.daretowin.org/
http://www.workers.org/

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Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
10 Mar 2005
cops always get let off. look at amadu diallo. rodney king. there are so many examples, and so many more stories that are unknown. this isn't a "bad apple" case, this is a systemic problem.
fuck police brutality.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
10 Mar 2005
To comment that the police failed to call EMS is absolutely absurd and irresponsible. EMS was, in fact called. This is nothing more than irresponsible writing (I cannot refer to it as journalism).
For Tim
11 Mar 2005
Hey, if you have some more info about this story let us know. There is lots of room for discussion and I'm keen to hear the other side of the story.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
11 Mar 2005
I don't like it when the Police is demonized. They are people too. The key of this is whether they made a terrible mistake and tried to cover it up. It is not an example of police brutality (of which there are much better examples) as much as impunity. But isn't that what the proceedings are for? ! Poor journalism when it is so one-sided.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
11 Mar 2005
Let me first state that I'm not the Tim that commented above, though like Jamie I too would love to hear some more info because when an unsupported claim is countered by yet another unsupported claim it still leaves all of us without any real facts to make up our mind, which is fine is you're prone to watching the cable news channels. You seem so sure of what you claim just as Alex Gould is sure that he and DARE "know" that this was police brutality. So I ask both of you how do you actually "know" these things? Is there some inside info you both are privy to that you just didn't feel like sharing?
and to sofiushka - I agree that demonization of a whole group is wrong though if the unsubstaniated claims above are true then these cops deserve it. What does them being humans have to do with anything? Hitler and Stalin were also "people too". and speaking of Stalin if you want some really "poor journalism" from a Stalinist, Milosevist, Kim Jong Ilite perspective than I suggest clicking that second link posted by the author which brings you to the Workers World Party website. Personally I think if you advertise affiliation to those pyschotic idealogues automatically whatever you have to say is then demonized to some degree... we all have our biases.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
11 Mar 2005
As a immigrant myself, I can't stand it when any ideological group use "our cause" to push their agenda. Is this about justice for Jeffrey or is this about militant struggle ? Is this an opinion article? If so, make it clear. Calling for socialism to resolve this issue to me is just another way of colonialism (pushing Western ideologies on the people who "don't know any better").

Here's more info on this case:
The incident began on the afternoon of Dec. 3, 2002, with the theft of a van that had been left unlocked and running outside Nunez Liquors at 575 Broad St.

A woman in the passenger seat was startled when a man in a black hooded jacket jumped inside and started driving away, she told the police. She screamed for him to stop, and when he didn't, she jumped out.

Twelve hours later, early on Dec. 4, Cook was on patrol when he saw the stolen van -- missing its license plates -- on Elmwood Avenue. He and other police officers followed the van, which headed through the neighborhood as cruisers pursued it with lights and sirens.

The van veered from Potters Avenue onto Dexter Street and crashed into a fence, according to the police. Baez jumped out -- just as Cook drove up.

Cook saw the van rolling, which meant the driver had jumped, Penza said. The officer slowed down, but had no time to react when Baez suddenly ran in front of him, Penza said.

Otrando, who was coming from the other direction, had also slowed down when he saw the van veer off, Penza said. He saw Baez struck by Cook's cruiser, and then the man's body fell into his path, Penza said.

The front wheels of Otrando's cruiser ran over Baez's body, Penza said. The officers called for a rescue to pull the man out from under the cruiser, he said.

Penza said evidence from the accident investigation showed that both officers had been driving about 10 mph when Baez was hit. Accident reconstruction expert Lt. Kenneth Cohen found no skid marks at the scene, Penza said. An autopsy showed Baez had a head injury, but it was not significant and showed a low impact, the lawyer said.

Both officers were placed on administrative duty during an internal investigation after the accident, but neither were disciplined, nor were criminal charges filed, Penza said. Then-Chief Guido A. Laorenza told The Journal the officers had acted "by policy and procedure."

The family didn't dispute the pursuit, but argued the officers were negligent.

Their lawyer, Andrew Alberino III of Cranston, did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. Baez's mother didn't return a message left at her Florida home.

According to court documents, DiLones said her son had worked for several months at McDonald's in East Greenwich, where he lived with her and a brother. He grew up in New Jersey, but had been sent to a school in the Dominican Republic for a few years as a young teenager. He returned to Rhode Island and attended Hope High School for ninth and possibly 10th grade, she said in the court document.

He moved to New York City to live with his father and eventually returned to his mother's home.

Baez had attracted police attention with an arrest for drug possession after he was found sleeping in a stolen car in Providence. His family told the newspaper at the time that he'd had "some problems" but he was liked and was known as "easy-going."

They didn't have answers why he was driving the stolen van that December night.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
11 Mar 2005
Thanks Sofiuska. Though if that article is what Tim is using to back his claim than I would still say that it doesn't answer what Alex and DARE claim and also don't backup
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
12 Mar 2005
So essentially what we have here is a car thief who failed to stop for police. After running the stolen car into a fence he bails out but foolishly runs into the street where he is accidentally hit and later dies from head injuries that were a direct and forseeable result of his criminal activity. This is a case of police brutality? His only crime was "driving while Hispanic?" Did you conveniently forget that car theft is also a crime? You people owe an apology to the police and all law abiding citizens.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
13 Mar 2005
"head injuries that were a direct and forseeable result of his criminal activity"

So in your view the judicial system should be abolished and replaced with the "justice" chosen by police?
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
13 Mar 2005
What about justice for the woman he carjacked and nearly kidnapped?

Police brutality? This is about a fuckwit loser stealing a van.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
13 Mar 2005
This is in reply to the questions by "pants." A head injury is a forseeable result from the criminal act of fleeing from police in a stolen vehicle and then bailing out into the street. Other forseeable results are broken bones etc. As far as your question as to whether olice should choose the justice...the police chose to arest him and allow the judicial system to deal with him from there. Baez vetoed that choice and substitued his own. He chose to flee. When he ran into the path of an oncoming cruiser, he chose death. He could have chosen court imposed justice which would probably have been probation. He deserved jail time, but the reality is that he would have been on probation. So you are correct. We should not allow the police to impose justice. Their justice would have returned a criminal to the streets.
Where is Alex Gould? & Why can't Sid contibute more than his opinion?
14 Mar 2005
So where is the author of the article to answer any of the questions about his portrayal of the events?
Its pretty lame that he doesn't even show up to defend his one sided account.

In addition, the court system is for figuring out what actually happened and trying to compensate victims or rectify perpetrators.
I have been a little disappointed in these first 11 posts; nobody points out that this forum is really not the place to decide who was right or who was wrong. Gould clearly argues that Baez is innocent, which makes his article an opinion piece more than a news story. Sofiausika presents another version of the events but doesn't tell us were she got them. She asks us to accept her version, which appears to be the police's public statement regurgitated through some news outlet, without qualification.
The police have an agenda and so does Baez' mother and Gould.
I think it would be better to just try to present the facts and let some sort of adjudicating body decide where guilt lays. Discussions on this site sometimes become so opinionated that they seem ridiculous.
Many people have something good to say but then taint it by calling for crucifixion without trial.

Sid, if you don’t like the courts, then do some research and find out how many car thieves actually get probation as opposed to jail time; find out if either are effective ways to deter such crime; look into possible alternatives and PUBLISH A STORY. Make it the unbiased ideal for which you seem to crave.
All your bitching is not going to make anyone listen to you.
Why don’t you actually try to do something positive?
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
14 Mar 2005
Got it from the The Providence Journal, corporate, as always.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
16 Mar 2005
Would you be happier if he had beeen run over by a fire truck ????
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
16 Mar 2005
I'd be happy if the woman he carjacked maced his stupid ass.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
18 Mar 2005
.....Or "lit him up!"..... Join the NRA or the Second Ammendment Sisters. Women should should not have to plead for their right to self defense.
Pathetic
18 Mar 2005
Cops kill a man and all most of you can do is complain that the author of the above piece is opinionated and that car jacking is bad. Get a grip. Wheher through malice or indifference the Providence police murdered Jeffrey Baez. A young man is dead. Let's talk about how the police can be made accountable to the communities they supposedly "serve and protect" and how underdeveloped neighborhoods can be given the resources they need to survive so that young people feel there are better things to do than taking someone elses vehicle.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
18 Mar 2005
The writer of the Providence Journal article quoted above made no effort to contact Luz's lawyers. She left one message on Luz's home answering machine in Florida, while Luz was on the plane ride home, and never attempted to recontact her or get a response to the police slanders against Baez that the author reprints without comment or investigation. One of the lies is that a rescue was called. This was disproved in court testimony.

The fact is that police killed Jeffrey by running him over with their cars. It was no accident because the chase was low-speed and they knew and communicated with each-other that he was about to bail from the vehicle. The cops are protecting no-one but the rich, and serving everyone else with a deadly dose of racism and brutality.

Regardless of Baez's alleged crime, it does not justify vigilante "justice" on the part of the police, an excuse that their defenders on this website claim, even thought the police themselves won't admit to it (because such vigilantism is a crime). But the fact is that the police did judge and execute Baez that night. Because of this no jury has been given the chance to decide if Baez actually stole the vehicle.

Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
19 Mar 2005
I call bullshit. There is no way that the cops decided on the spot "Oh, let's just run over this guy". There is one person responsible for his death and that's Jeffrey Baez.

This is not about racism or about police abuses of power. It's about a dipshit who carjacked a van, almost kinapped a woman, and was hit by a car while running from the cops.

All this does is discredit real cases of police racism and abuse, which unfortunately do occur on a daily basis. Your crying wolf only makes things worse.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
21 Mar 2005
People who think that the cops would intentionally run over a petty thief with the intent to kill, maim, wound or otherwise injure this miscreant have no idea of the paperwork that such an act would generate. In other words...it's more trouble than it's worth.
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
21 Mar 2005
"Ciano": You think the cops wouldn't? Then who killed Amadou Diallou?
Re: Justice for Jeffrey Baez!
22 Mar 2005
f you are suggesting that they did it for fun, then you are delusional. They thought that he had a gun. Again...why subject yourself to all the paperwork. These icons that people like you pull up are nothing but cliches. The Dillou incident was tragic. People like you simply trivialize it.
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10 Jun 2006
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