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Just off the heels of the Albuquerque Police Department’s evaluations by the Department of Justice, the family of a woman, who was a victim of a state police officer’s excessive violence, rallied together April 11 in to get justice for a life that was cut short.
Jeanette Anaya, 39, was driving along a Santa Fe street Nov. 7, when State Police Officer Oliver Wilson attempted to stop her for making a “wobbly” right turn. Anaya did not stop and Wilson gave pursuit. Dashboard camera show the pursuit and the police car slam into Anaya’s vehicle. Wilson then got out of his cruiser, ran along side of Anaya’s vehicle and fired 16 shots — two of them killing Anaya. There are conflicting stories on whether the passenger in Anaya’s car was injured, at least physically.
I knew Jeanette and her family well. From what it seems to me is, she panicked for whatever reason and fled in the direction of her home. When the officer hit her car, the camera shows (at least to me) that she is still trying to get away, not run the cop over as he said.
How the grand jury could see the dash cam footage and still say the officer was justified is absolutely ridiculous. Even the district attorney, Angela “Spence” Pacheco herself said she didn’t think Anaya had committed a traffic violation in the first place, according to a story in a Santa Fe newspaper.
It is also ridiculous for the officer to say he was in fear for his life when he is seen running toward the vehicle before shooting at it. Who runs “toward” something he or she fears?
The verdict was the motivation for the rally at the Santa Fe District Courthouse. “Justice for Jeanette” and “Police Brutality Must Stop” were chants being heard from the crowd. Signs with Anaya’s picture and one sign with 16 bullet holes were particularly eye-catching. Passersby sounded their car horns showing their support for the family and hopes for justice.
Theresa Anaya, Jeanette’s mother, was constantly comforted by well wishers and she thanked the crowd for their support on behalf of her and Jeanette’s father.
Anaya’s cousin, James Ramirez, shouted a powerful message to the crowd: “We were taught to have trust in police officers… We cannot let law enforcement get away with these malicious acts of violence. We need to get justice today, people!”
The Anaya family might still get justice, one way or the other. The passenger in the car that Wilson unloaded on is said to be so traumatized by the incident, he plans to sue the state police, said a recent Santa Fe newspaper’s story.
All the violence seems to come at a time when many police departments — in New Mexico and elsewhere — are under fire (pun sort of intended). Hopefully, recent developments by the Department of Justice will curb excessive violent incidents and offer better training to newly appointed law enforcement.
Yes, Jeanette should have pulled over, but when she didn’t, Wilson had no right to shoot, especially since there was a passenger in the vehicle.
Police from all departments need better training and stop the power hungry attitudes a lot of them have. As someone at the Anaya rally was shouting, “Police are supposed to protect our children, not kill them.”
Jeanette was a sweet, caring, kindhearted woman. She didn’t deserve what she got — does anyone? I hope the Anaya family finds the justice they are looking for and Wilson be accountable for his actions that night.
Gina Schultz is the features/community editor at the Los