City of San Jose & SJPD Align Themselves with Rising White Nationalist Movement in the United States
On Thursday, the attorneys for the City of San Jose called use-of-force expert John Black to defend Mike Pina’s murder of Jacob Dominguez. The name John Black might sound unfamiliar to many but his name will forever be tied to Kyle Rittenhouse, the white 17 year old who shot and killed 2 protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin after protests erupted for the police shooting of unarmed Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse, from Illinois, was driven by his mother across state lines into Kenosha, Wisconsin, armed with his assault rifle, to be a counter-protestor to those demanding justice for Jacob Blake’s shooting. Rittenhouse then walked the streets of Kenosha with his assault rifle, accompanied by the likes of Boogaloos and Proud Boys, known white supremacists organizations that often threaten violence to Black Lives Matter protests and are most infamous with their involvement in the January 6th insurrection in Washington DC.
John Black was the use-of-force expert in defense of Rittenhouse in his case for the murder of two protestors Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and attempted murder of Gaige Grosskreutz. He argued that Rittenhouse had reason to fear for his life and acted in self-defense. It is widely considered that the protestors were attempting to disarm Rittenhouse, as they were unarmed themselves. His presence at a peaceful protest against police violence while intimidating the crowd with his assault rifle, could only be interpreted as a threat of violence. He wasn’t even from that community. After Rittenhouse was acquitted of his charges, he quickly became a hero of the far-right movement and white nationalist movement. He appeared on FOX news, met with Donald Trump, practically doing a press tour after his acquittal of shooting and killing two unarmed men. And although John Black may seem like a small detail of Rittenhouse’s story, Mr. Black played a pivotal role in justifying why those two unarmed protestors were shot and killed. This is who the City of San Jose hired to defend Mike Pina’s murder of Jacob Dominguez. This is the white nationalist, far-right movement our city is intentionally aligning with.
It cannot be understated that there are an overwhelming number of use-of-force experts in California and around the country, most of whom are former police and defend police in these types of civil cases. It can then be seen no other way that the City of San Jose intentionally looked to hire Mr. John Black for his services and his role in acquitting Kyle Rittenhouse. How are people from this city supposed to feel about this? What are the connections of our police department and the larger far-right movement in the United States? Is this the ideology of SJPD and city officials? Who suggested hiring this expert? Who approved it? There is an urgent question for the City of San Jose to explain who was responsible for hiring Mr. John Black and why they did.
John Black’s testimony is what you might assume given his background. He justified Pina’s shooting of Jacob as reasonable, asking the jury to consider Pina’s perspective. His argument around use-of-force is about perception and not reality. He argues that if Pina thinks Jacob has a gun then he is justified to use lethal force; essentially arguing that it doesn’t matter that Jacob was unarmed when he was killed. He attempts to overlook Jacob being unarmed by arguing that hindsight is essentially not accurate and clouds the “truth.” This testimony is used to build up the lie by police that Jacob reaches down because he is going to grab a gun when all evidence says that his arms were up and he was unarmed.
A further concern of Mr. Black’s testimony is that he seemed to refer to the testimony of other officers in court like Pina and Lopez. His reference to their testimonies in accuracy suggests that Mr. Black, officers involved and defense counsel were in communication prior to his testimony because otherwise, how would he know what they said? Did he help create their testimony? There are serious implications with his reference and at a minimum are inappropriate and should have been addressed in the courtroom.
City attorneys call their last witnesses
To conclude their defense of Mike Pina, City attorneys used Dr. Daniel L. Sudakin, a ‘toxicology expert’ and SJPD Officer Veronica Martinez, who worked the crime scene unit the day of Jacob’s killing. The city is arguing that Jacob was an imminent threat when he dropped his hands “to reach for a firearm.” As we’ve pointed out in the trial coverage: (1) There was no gun in Jacob’s car; (2) Jacob’s hands were up - leaving the city to shamelessly criminalize Jacob to fit their absurd narrative. Allegations of a gun were used as truth against Jacob - yet he was unarmed. Jacob allegedly reached down “for a gun” - and yet there was no gun found and the only evidence we have for Jacob moving are testimonies from the police officers; body cameras were conveniently not working during this critical time period. Again, we are expected to take officers’ words as truth with no system to verify their claims.
According to the city’s toxicology expert, someone reaching down while they’re being apprehended “is a behavior consistent with impulsivity.” Mike Pina killing Jacob is justified for this reason. Officer Veronica Martinez testified in full uniform – a practice that can bias the jury to see the person as even more credible simply for being in the police uniform. Martinez was a part of the crime scene unit that photographed the incident in Sept 2017. In the photos it is dark already, meaning hours had passed from the time of the incident that occurred in broad daylight at about 3pm. This officer says that the car Jacob was driving was still running when she arrived, that it was in drive. There was a photograph of the cupholders in the middle with a little bag – that officer Veronica presumed was meth. It is not verified what was in that bag or that it was even actually there while Jacob was alive. She also says that a black folded knife was found in the front passenger seat and a ski mask on the passenger side floor. If this was true, we wouldn’t be hearing about it on the last day of the civil trial. City Attorney Maren Clouse showed several photos of the inside of the car with Jacob’s body still inside, they only badly cover Jacob’s face with a black square. The city asks if the crime scene unit altered his body, altered anything inside the car before taking the photographs and she responds no. During Mr. Crowley’s examination, officer Martinez didn’t know the photographs had been taken after the dog had been called off from his attack of Jacob.
Mr. Crawley calls a witness to rebuttal Dr. Allan D. Barbour, an expert in forensic toxicology and drug and chemical testing was the final rebuttal witness for Mr. Crowley. The defense, the city of San Jose claims that there were drugs in Jacob’s system. However, the origin of this information and the earliest reference is in the autopsy that did not include a laboratory report or any indication of any laboratory that did the test, where or when it occurred – something that doesn’t meet the standard of the toxicology community practice. “It’s standard practice because there is always a possibility of something being misunderstood or misread. That information allows you to trace the report to someone who can be legitimately questioned about it and verify the results,” said Dr. Barbour. You can’t double check a record that doesn’t exist to verify the information.
“There’s no clear evidence that it was his [Jacob Dominguez] blood that was tested,” affirmed Dr. Barbour.
As we connect all of the City of San Jose’s witnesses and experts called to testify, we see a pattern and an intention that is clear: they will create any lie or distraction needed to keep themselves from being accountable for murdering Jacob while he was unarmed with his hands up. The hiring of John Black as an expert has escalated these attempts at justifying his death. With the City of San Jose and SJPD hiring Mr. Black, they have connected themselves with all the attempts to justify the countless murdered by police around this country as well as the far-right, white nationalist movement. They are using the same tactics, the same reasons, and now the same experts. And as our communities lose their loved ones to police violence, like Jacob’s family has, this practice of justifying the murder of our people is indefensible.