SJPD Officer Mike Pina was found liable for the murder of Jacob Dominguez.
Wednesday morning, family received the call that the verdict from the jury was in. Family and community rushed to the Federal Courthouse in Downtown San Jose. The jury was asked to find an answer for 12 questions presented to them to create the verdict, with the first question being the most important: Did SJPD Officer Mike Pina use excessive force in the shooting of Jacob Dominguez? The jury answered yes.
At the time of the reading of the verdict, Jacob’s family still felt unclear about what the verdict was. The way it was read did not have clarity in the beginning, but after the jury left and Jacob’s family spoke to their attorney, they got their clarity: they found Pina liable. A rush of emotions came over everybody as the family began to cry and embrace each other. Jacob’s mom, sister, auntie and grandma took turns hugging in this court room. This is what they had been fighting for nearly 5 years: accountability.
After no criminal charges were brought on Officer Mike Pina by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the City of San Jose and San Jose Police Department took no accountability for Jacob’s murder, arguing that it was justified. This stance was only upheld by the Santa Clara County District Attorneys Office. Because of this, the family never had their day in court, never had the opportunity for the truth of what happened to be said out loud. It took nearly 5 years of depositions, investigation, hearings, to even arrive at a civil trial, the only form of accountability the family could seek after everything else was exhausted. All while enduring this narrative by SJPD, City of San Jose and District Attorney Office that Jacob was a criminal, was on drugs, was a bad person. They tarnished his image publicly after killing him.
But now, the world will know the truth. The truth about Jacob, as a father, husband, son, brother, nephew. How loving he was, how much he loved his kids. How he coached little league. How he told his kids to get an education, to be somebody. How he turned his life around. How he and his family had plans to move away. Jacob Dominguez was not the person the City of San Jose tirelessly tried to make him to be. Mike Pina murdered Jacob unjustifiably while his hands were up and he was unarmed.
After the verdict, the family went to Jacob’s gravesite to sit with him. They then went to San Jose City Hall with signs reading “We got justice 4 Jacob” and waved flags with Jacob’s face on them. Later, they went to the site where Jacob was killed, on Penitencia and White Road in the East Side, where they held a candle light vigil. A heart made out of candles was filled with roses inside of it. Jacob’s family held rallies and vigils at both of these places shortly after his death, committing to finding justice for him. These are the same places their journey for justice and accountability started and almost 5 years later, the journey was fulfilled. While their loss will never be made whole, the family's fight for justice for Jacob is such an inspiring journey that triumphed over the lethal racism of the police and the explicit racism coded as legal arguments by the City attorneys of San Jose.
For Mike Pina, who was promoted right after he killed Jacob, he is now held liable for using excessive force. This makes him a million dollar plus costing cop who not only has the death of Jacob on his record, but also another excessive force case the City had to settle with a couple he assaulted in a hotel. That case made national news. And further shows the pattern of protecting police who cause harm, even death, to our community here in San Jose. A systemic illness. Mike Pina, and all other officers involved in killing our people, need to be removed from the force.
As Jacob’s family begins their journey to process the last 5 years and continue their healing together, the fight to end police brutality and police killings continues so that this never happens again.