Local News

Wednesday, Oct 16 2013 02:37 PM

Attorney demands independent investigation into shooting of police informant

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Police tape is wrapped around trees in front of the Four Points Sheraton on California Avenue in Bakersfield after a shooting Sept. 16.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The attorney representing the family of a police informant shot and killed while leading officers to a fugitive last month is calling for an independent agency to investigate the shooting.

Los Angeles-based attorney Mark Geragos also said in a written statement released Wednesday that the goal of previous comments by Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson "seems to be an attempt to explain and justify the killing while slandering Jorge (Ramirez)," the informant. He also said officers involved in the shooting who have refused to speak about it should be compelled to do so.

And, Geragos said, police put the public at risk in the shootout that occurred in the parking lot of the Four Points Sheraton Hotel on California Avenue.

Geragos -- who has represented such high-profile clients such as Michael Jackson, Chris Brown and former Congressman Gary Condit, and is a TV legal commentator -- was retained by the family of the 34-year-old Ramirez following the Sept. 16 shooting that killed both him and fugitive Justin Bryan Harger. Williamson has said Ramirez was an untested police informant who provided scant details as he led officers to Harger.

Williamson said Ramirez didn't tell police Harger was armed, nor did he accurately describe the type of vehicle they were traveling in. He also didn't say Harger was wearing a wig.

Officers tried to intercept Ramirez and Harger at three different locations, finally catching up with them at the Sheraton. Williamson said officers stopped the men in the parking lot at 12:30 a.m., and Ramirez got out of the SUV.

Officers ordered Ramirez back inside. He refused, and placed his hands in front of him near his waist.

At that moment, Officer Daniel Brewer was shot in the face. Both Brewer and Officer Rick Wimbish turned and fired in the direction of the gunfire.

The officers lost track of Ramirez, Harger and each other in the resulting confusion. They fled to cover and continued firing.

More police arrived and Brewer was taken to a local hospital and released later that morning. Both Ramirez and the 32-year-old Harger died after being shot several times.

The other officers who fired their weapons were Ryan Vaughan, Jess Beagley and Chad Garrett.

Both the criminal investigation and an administrative probe are expected to be finished by the end of the month.

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