Victor Ortega’s family: ‘We call it homicide’

Photo: Carl Muhammad

The family of Victor Ortega wants answers. On June 4, San Diego Police Department Officer Jonathan McCarthy shot Ortega in the back of the head while he was lying face down on the ground. McCarthy admits he shot Ortega because he was “tired.” A lieutenant with the SDPD also admitted that, at the time of the shooting, Ortega had one hand cuffed behind his back.

“The officers’ actions were done with a willful and conscious disregard for the rights and safety of Victor Ortega,” said Donzella Campbell, Ortega’s mother-in-law, who read from a prepared statement. “Victor was not treated like a human being.”

On Aug. 6, the family organized a day-long protest that started at 8 a.m. at the Hall of Justice downtown. More than 30 family members and friends rallied outside before marching 14 blocks to police headquarters. They were carrying signs that read, “Victor did not have a gun” and “Don’t believe the SDPD cover-up.”

They also chanted, “They call it justified! We call it homicide!” and “SDPD, ‘Are you kidding me?’” The latter chanted question is what witnesses heard Ortega say to the overly aggressive officer as he was lying on the ground. Family members attempted to enter police headquarters to demand answers but they were halted by security.

The protesters then marched back to the Hall of Justice and rallied until 5 p.m. An hour later, the family, along with activists, rallied in front of a police storefront in the northern San Diego community of Mira Mesa, where Ortega was killed. The crowd of more than 50 protesters then marched to the scene of the crime and held a candlelight vigil. Family members talked about Ortega’s love for his wife and kids, his sense of humor and the plans he had for the future.

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