The Statesman Journal [Salem, Oregon], Saturday, Aug. 3, 1996, pp. 1A & 2A

Salem police kill man in raid

  • The 63-year-old was cooking breakfast when police launched a drug raid, his family says.

    By Marie Gravelle
    and Rhonda Parker
    The Statesman Journal

    Salem police officers conducting a drug raid shot to death a 63-year-old man early Friday when he reportedly came at them with a knife.

    The officers kicked open the door of Salvador Hernandez's tiny two-bedroom home at 1605 Candlewood Drive NE at 7:22 a.m. They had a warrant and apparently were looking for heroin.

    According to police reports, Hernandez confronted the officers with a knife. But members of Hernandez's family said he was just cooking breakfast.

    "He was shot needlessly," said 26-year-old Linda Hernandez, Salvador's daughter-in-law. She was not inside the house at the time of the shooting.

    Angel Hernandez, Salvador's 17-year-old son, was in one of the bedrooms during the raid.

    "All I heard was the (police) rushing in. They yelled to get down, and they didn't give my dad a chance to get down," Angel Hernandez said.

    He said his father spoke no English and didn't understand what to do.

    Veteran Salem police Officers Ken Gilbert and John Manitsas both shot at Salvador Hernandez, according to a statement released by the Salem Police Department. Following a standard procedure, the two officers have been placed on administrative leave while the Oregon State Police and Marion County District Attorney's Office investigate.

    Please see Raid, Page 2A

    Raid/Another resident arrested

    Continued from Page 1A

    [photo caption, top of p. 2A:]

    Investigation: State and local police wait outside a house at 1605 Candlewood Drive NE while crime lab investigators sift through evidence Friday after a man was shot and killed by Salem police.
    Deputy District Attorney Walt Beglau, who is leading his office's investigation, said eyewitnesses had been interviewed. He didn't know whether those people contradicted what Salvador Hernandez's son and daughter-in-law said.

    "There were people in the house who saw what happened," Beglau said. "I don't know the substance of their statements."

    Beglau also didn't know whether the officers, who were in uniform, spoke to Hernandez in Spanish.

    He said an autopsy would be performed today.

    The warrant was for another man, Alfredeo Plansensia Gonzales, 35, whom neighbors said they saw arrested after the shooting outside the home.

    Gonzales was charged with two counts of distributing a controlled substance and was in Marion County Jail on $80,000 bail. According to police, Gonzales lived at the house on Candlewood Drive.

    Although Salvador Hernandez was not listed on the warrant, Beglau said the warrant covered both the residence and Gonzales. The raid was conducted by the Salem Area Interagency Narcotics Team. Beglau said his office should make a decision next week on whether the shooting was justified.

    But because this shooting involves Salem police officers, the Salem Police Department can't participate in the investigation. The OSP investigates "to avoid the appearance of conflict," Beglau said.

    Hernandez's relatives said Friday that police were looking for heroin. "As for drugs, there is none and there was none," Linda Hernandez said. "And if there was, this 63-year-old father wouldn't have known about it."

    Beglau said the raid was halted when Salvador Hernandez was shot. But officers planned to complete the search for drugs later Friday.

    Neighbors said the home at 1605 Candlewood NE often was surrounded by cars and filled with people. They said people were often lounging or fighting outside the home.

    "I saw the old man outside a lot," said Becky Wozniak, who lives across the street from the home in a heavy-industrial area near Interstate 5.

    "He didn't bother nobody," she said.

    About 10 cars were parked outside the house Friday afternoon as police searched behind yellow crime-scene tape. A dozen family members stood outside.

    "A lot of them live here, and until we get done, they can't get back in," Beglau said.

    A van, the word "Fantacia" painted across the side, was parked close to the home. Several of the Hernandez family members played in a band and carried their instruments in the van.

    "I like the music," said Juliana Torres, who lives across the street. "I don't step over there, but I like to listen."

    The sparsely furnished house served as a home to eight or nine people, Linda Hernandez said.

    One of Salvador Hernandez's sons, Heriberto Hernandez, owns the home and another house next door. Neighbors said police often were called to the home. Reports show a call for a domestic dispute and several fights at the address.

    Salvador Hernandez had five children in the United States, several of whom lived with him. His wife died a few years ago, according to family members.

    Originally from the Tecate region of Mexico, the family came to the United States more than six years ago. Many members, including Salvador Hernandez, worked as agriculture laborers.

    [Sidebar, p. 2A:]

    17 arrested in drug inquiry
    The Statesman Journal

    KEIZER - Police officers ended a three-month drug investigation Friday morning by serving search warrants at six Keizer residences and arresting 17 people.

    Other officers participating in the sweep served a warrant at a seventh residence in Salem. During that incident, two Salem officers fired shots and killed a 63-year-old man whom they said had confronted them with a knife.

    Keizer police Lt. Pat Bowe said the arrests did not mean that all the people were involved in a large drug ring. Police had concluded the undercover operation and took advantage of the availability of the 47 officers to simultaneously serve the warrants.

    Property seized included one vehicle, a stolen firearm, a large amount of cash, drug paraphernalia, tar heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.

    Bowe said officers also found electronic equipment and numerous pieces of clothing with the security tags still attached.

    [Portland NORML doesn't want to cause more harm to the 17 people arrested, so their identities and addresses are omitted here. However, it's important to note that about 15 of the 17 names appear to be Hispanic.]
    Arrested on charges of selling drugs were Keizer residents ***, 18, of ***; ***, 20, of ***; and ***, 25, of ***.

    Charged with drug possession were ***, 29, no address listed; ***, 24, of ***, Salem; ***, 29, of ***, Salem; ***, 20, of ***, Keizer; and ***, 35, of ***, Keizer.

    ***, 18, of ***, Salem, was charged with frequenting a place where drugs are used.

    All were taken to Marion County jail, as were eight others to be held for immigration authorities. They are ***, 26, ***, 23, and ***, 24, all of ***; ***, 34, and ***, 18, both of ***; and ***, 37, ***, 19, and ***, 22, no addresses listed.

    [End of first article]

    [Another news report, from The Oregonian (Portland), provides more details:]

    The Oregonian, Saturday, Aug. 3, 1996, p. C3

    Two Salem officers kill 63-year-old

  • A witness who was in the man's kitchen disputes a report that the farm worker confronted police with a knife.

    By Cheryl Martinis
    Correspondent, The Oregonian

    SALEM - A 63-year-old man was shot and killed by police Friday after he confronted two Salem officers with a knife, police said.

    But friends and relatives of Salvador Hernandez said the farmworker was opening a refrigerator to get breakfast. The one-time police officer in Mexico would have been at work in the fields if not for the rain, they said.

    Hernandez died at about 7:20 a.m. in his home. The two officers involved in the incident were helping Keizer police serve search warrants as part of a wide-ranging three-month undercover drug investigation.

    Hernandez was not a suspect in the investigation.

    The veteran officers who fired their weapons, Ken Gilbert and John Manitsas, were placed on routine administrative leave while the Oregon State Police investigate. A witness said about four shots were fired. Police declined to provide details.

    The witness, Bortolo Pineda, 54, was sitting at the kitchen table within feet of his longtime friend when he said police entered and shot within seconds. Pineda said he didn't see a knife.

    He said he was on the ground when police fired. Relatives of Hernandez, who was hard of hearing, said he might not have heard orders to lie down on the floor.

    An autopsy is planned for today. Marion County Deputy District Attorney Walt Beglau said he couldn't immediately respond to the witnesses' account of the shooting.

    Forty-seven police and federal agents were involved in the arrest of 18 people in the drug investigation.

    [End of second article]

    [A subsequent report in The Oregonian revealed the inevitable grand jury ruling:]

    The Oregonian, Thursday, Aug. 8, 1996, pp. C1 & C4

    Jury clears police in fatal shooting

  • The family of a 63-year-old Salem farm worker is stunned by the ruling as the body begins its journey to Mexico

    By Laura Trujillo
    of The Oregonian staff

    SALEM - As friends and relatives of Salvador Hernandez prepared to send his body to Mexico on Wednesday, none could understand why police shot and killed the gentle man, a great-grandfather.

    And none could understand why a Marion County grand jury and the county's district attorney's office ruled Wednesday that the shooting was justified.

    Hernandez, 63, was preparing breakfast for his three children Friday when police stormed into his small house and shot him, family members said.

    Salem police were looking for a 39-year-old man on drug charges. They were not looking for Hernandez, who once was a police officer in his native Mexico before moving his eight children to Oregon.

    [photo caption:]

    Bartolo Pineda,
    55, was with Sal-
    vador Hernandez
    when Hernandez
    was shot and
    killed by Salem
    police. Pineda
    said Hernandez
    was unarmed; po-
    lice say he had a

    Police say they shot and killed Hernandez after he ignored two officers' orders to get on the floor and instead approached them with a knife. The Salem officers who fired their weap-

    Please turn to
    SHOOTING, Page C4

    Shooting: Family, witness contest police version

  • Continued from Page C1

    ons, Ken Gilbert and John Manitsas, were helping Keizer police serve search warrants as part of a three-month undercover drug investigation.

    Manitsas, a 17-year police veteran, was in a standard police patrol uniform, and Gilbert, a 16-year veteran officer, was in raid gear when they entered Hernandez's house, said Sgt. Scott Anderson of the Salem police.

    Both officers fired, and Hernandez was hit five times in the chest, Anderson said.

    After hearing testimony from 10 witnesses this week, the grand jury ruled that the shooting was justifiable under two set of circumstances. First, the officers reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to defend themselves. Second, the officers believed that Hernandez was committing a felony against them by carrying a deadly weapon with an intent to use it.

    "It was completely justifiable," said Marion County Deputy District Attorney Walt Beglau.

    Hernandez's family contests the police version of what happened.

    "This is a serious mistake," said Hernandez's 17-year-old son, Angel, clenching his fists until his knuckles turned white. "My dad didn't deserve this. He died for nothing, for no reason at all."

    Hernandez's family left Wednesday afternoon to drive to Tecate, Mexico, to bury their father next to his wife, Bernanea, who died 10 years ago.

    "The state should pay for the funeral, for their mistake," Angel Hernandez said. "They did this."

    Salvador Hernandez's family gave a different account of Friday's events.

    Hernandez, a farm worker who was hard of hearing, barely even saw the police, says his lifelong friend, Bartolo Pineda, who was helping prepare breakfast.

    Pineda says he saw three officers enter the house and heard them yell, in English and Spanish, "Police. Get down." Pineda dropped to the floor just as he saw Hernandez turn to open the refrigerator to get some sausage.

    "I don't even think he heard what they said," said Pineda, 55.

    That's when police shot Hernandez, Pineda said. Pineda said Hernandez's hands were empty. There was no knife.

    Three of Hernandez's children were in bedrooms at the time of the shooting, but only Angel Hernandez was awake.

    "I just heard some yelling and then the shots," he said. "When I went out there my dad was on the ground, his hands empty. He was dead."

    Then, Angel Hernandez said, police took him and his family out of the house in handcuffs. The next time he saw his father was Tuesday, in a casket.

    Friends described Hernandez as a hard-working, friendly man, eager to talk to strangers and play with several of his 21 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

    In his eight years as a farm worker at Eder Brothers in Mount Angel, Hernandez worked hard and never caused trouble.

    "He was a good worker, a good man," said Ray Eder, Hernandez's boss. "This has to be a case of him being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

    Police were searching the house because they believed Alredo Plascenia-Gonza - who was wanted on drug charges - was living there. He was arrested late Friday outside the house, Beglau said.

    Brian Whitehead, a Salem attorney representing the Hernandez family, says he is talking with the family and discussing their options. He was angered by the grand jury's decision and speculated whether prejudice played a role.

    "The only people they put on" the stand to testify "besides the police were Mexicans," Whitehead said. "And the police go in there and say he had a knife, we had to kill them. Well, I wonder if they would've put a white guy in there and let him say it was impossible for (Hernandez) to do this if that would've helped."



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