How would you feel if your son were falsely accused of one of the most shocking, nationally publicized violent crimes of the decade? Ask Soledad Gonzalez, whose son Giovanni Ramirez was publicly named as the initial suspect in the brutal beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow on March 31. Police now concede he had nothing to do with the assault.
After a painstaking investigation, the LAPD found no reason whatsoever to suspect Ramirez of being involved in Stow’s beating — except, perhaps, that he has a criminal record and has tattoos similar to those described by a witness. In fact, Ramirez wasn’t even at the stadium that day. He was at a family picnic.
Nevertheless, Ramirez was arrested on May 22, and the mayor and chief of police trumpeted his capture to the world. They released his photo to the international press, heralding his arrest despite the fact that the case against him was already stalled.
Police have now arrested three other people in connection with the violent assault.
“I got very upset because they [the police] did something wrong,” Ms. Ramirez told reporters last week. “If they didn’t have any proof, why did they put a picture of him in public and say he’s the suspect?”
Despite being exonerated of the violent crimes against Stow, Ramirez was kept in police custody on suspicion of a parole violation. In June he was sent back to prison for the alleged violation of having access to — not even actually having — a gun. His criminal defense attorneys are now appealing the parole violation, but his mother has not seen or spoken with him since his arrest.
“We do have a system of justice in place by which suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” said the family’s lawyer. “Unfortunately, we have just the opposite here.”
When a terrible, violent crime has been committed, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the cry for justice, and the police can feel a lot of pressure to show results. Let’s keep in mind that it is, in fact, a cry for justice. It is never justice to convict an innocent man in the media just to demonstrate results.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Family of Giovanni Ramirez slams LAPD’s handling of Bryan Stow case,” Abby Sewell, July 22, 2011