Photos by Stephanie Rivera
Dozens of supporters joined the family and friends of Hector Morejon in a demonstration in front of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center Wednesday, calling for "justice" for the 19-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer on April 23 in Cambodia Town.
With the name of the officer recently released, demonstrators focused their efforts on demanding 911 and dispatch calls from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) and calling for an independent Department of Justice investigation on the incident.
"At the end of the day we want accountability for this unjustified killing of my little brother, Hector Morejon, who was unarmed," Ruben Morejon told the crowd. "The Long Beach Police Department cannot investigate themselves."
Danny Morejon, another of Hector’s older brothers, said by speaking up and standing up to police, their family and people in similar situations would be able to attain the information they requested.
"I think there are a lot of people who had family members lost to the police that are experiencing what we are [experiencing] right now," Danny said.
"We can’t let the cops keep doing this to us...this is not fair," said Hector’s girlfriend Evelyn Gutierrez.
Sonia Mercado, one of the attorneys for the family, said she filed a claim seeking $10 million in damages earlier in the day to the City Clerk’s Office.
Claim documents list the respondents as the City of Long Beach, its police department, Police Chief Robert Luna and Officer Jeffrey Meyer—a 25-year veteran with the department who shot Morejon and has reportedly been involved in a previous officer-involved shooting and a previous use of force involving a taser.
"One thing that I think is important is that we are naming the chief," Mercado said. "The chief of police is responsible to train and take corrective actions and this city has a long, ongoing history of police abuse."
In 2013, Long Beach police shootings spiked over previous years, with 22 total, six of them fatal. In 2014, 10 officer-involved shootings occurred. As of April 27, the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) said three officer-involved shootings had occurred this year. Hector Morejon's shooting was the first fatal officer-involved shooting of 2015. At the same point in time in 2014, no officer-involved shootings had taken place.
Mercado says she expects the city to decline the claim within the standard 45 days allowed.
"It’s a statute where cities and residents can resolve disputes but they always deny them," she said.