Newsbrief: California Narc Indicted in Rudy Cardenas Killing 8/6/04

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


DRCNet reported in February on the death of Rodolfo "Rudy" Cardenas, the San Jose man killed by a California state narcotics officer looking for a parole violator ( Cardenas, who just happened by the scene, was shot in the back as he fled accosting officers. Now the officer who killed Cardenas faces criminal charges.

For the first time in the history of the California Department of Justice, one of its officers will go on trial for an on-duty killing. As we have documented (, even in the most egregious cases, grand juries rarely indict police shooters. But Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agent Michael Walker was indicted last week by a Santa Clara county grand jury on one count of voluntary manslaughter in Cardenas' death. Walker faces up to 11 years in prison.

The indictment came after a week's worth of testimony in a rare public grand jury session. That the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office opened the grand jury to the public was a sign of the intense outrage the killing has stirred up in the Bay Area Hispanic community. Cardenas family members and supporters in black t-shirts demanding justice were a fixture at the hearing, according to the San Jose Mercury News, which covered the trial.

"Victoria!" shouted a family member as relatives gathered to celebrate on the courthouse steps. "Justice has been served in Santa Clara County today," said Raul Cardenas, Rodolfo Cardenas' brother. "At least now they can see you better be careful when you pull the trigger."

Walker's shooting of Cardenas, a 43-year-old father of five, could be described as a comedy of errors, were it not for the tragic result. State narcs trying to bring in a man described as a dangerous felon (found peacefully sitting at home later that same day) mistook Cardenas for their actual prey, then chased him through the unfamiliar streets of downtown San Jose, losing contact with local police as they did. When Walker finally cornered Cardenas in an alley, he claimed he felt threatened and shot the innocent man in the back.

"I fired just as soon as I perceived an imminent threat," Walker said during the hearing.

That wasn't good enough for the grand jury. By indicting Walker for voluntary manslaughter, the grand jury concluded that he did not have a reasonable belief he was in danger. But it's not like the grand jury threw the book at him. It could have charged him with second-degree murder, which carries a 15-to-life sentence, but under the stewardship of Deputy District Attorney Lane Liroff, it declined to do so.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #349, 8/6/04 Medical Marijuana Victory in Detroit | Supreme Court to Fast Track Effort to End Federal Sentencing Chaos | Massachusetts Needle Exchange Activists Hold Day of Protest, Demand Action from Legislature | Newsbrief: Defendant Can Post Pictures of Narcotics Agents in Info Search, Federal Court Says | Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Wins Legal Victory, Still Alive | Newsbrief: Justice Department Backs Off on Plan to Destroy Library Asset Forfeiture Pamphlets | Newsbrief: Israeli Soldiers to Get Cannabis Therapy for Stress? | Newsbrief: Marijuana Charges Down 30% in Canada | Newsbrief: California Narc Indicted in Rudy Cardenas Killing | Newsbrief: Federal Prosecutors in Seattle Use Patriot Act in Marijuana Case | Newsbrief: Bolivian Coca Growers Call for Referendum on Legal Coca | Newsbrief: Highway Travel Advisory -- South Dakota/Sturgis Rally | Press Release: Students for Sensible Drug Policy Activists to Take "Skate for Justice" Through New York State Tomorrow (8/7) | Media Scan: Peter Moskos in the Baltimore Sun | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]