By Sal Sandoval
Not a single person’s eyes were dry when Melchor Torres of Madera recounted the story of his son’s murder while in police custody on the night of Oct. 22, 2002. Melchor was an invited guest to the Merced-based Oct. 7, 2011, meeting of the Central California Journey for Justice. Especially heartbreaking was hearing the song he composed in honor of his son Everardo and his mother and brother, who have passed away in the decade since Everardo was gunned down while handcuffed in the back of a Madera police car. The police officer, a veteran of the force, supposedly mistook a service revolver for a Taser gun and shot him.
Everardo was 24 when he was struck down. He was a rising star as a boxer. He was already slated to represent the United States in the Olympics.
It has been a long journey for justice for the Torres family. The Madera district attorney determined that no criminal charges could be brought against the officer who fired the fatal shot. The case is now on its fourth attorney, including one who wanted the family to settle for lesser damages. The family had their hopes dashed when nationally renowned attorney Johnnie Cochran, who was going to take the case, died suddenly.
The family has taken a personal toll with the murder of their son. Mrs. Torres suffers several health problems. A 12-year-old brother of Everardo who witnessed the shooting has suffered emotional problems and has not completed high school. Another brother has epilepsy. Melchor has personally traveled broadly seeking justice and support for his case, including trips to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Washington, D.C., and Mexico. As he promised at his son’s grave, the case will continue until justice is served.
Finally, the Torres family has been notified that there will be a court trial against the offending police officer for civil rights violations. This is scheduled for some time in April 2012.
There was an annual memorial at Everardo’s tomb on Oct. 27 at the Madera Calvary Cemetery.
Sal Sandoval is a physician in a homeless clinic and a California Central Valley Journey for Justice organizer for the recent UC Merced Forum. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.