DAs meet with Kamala Harris on gun enforcement

The Bay Area was heavily represented as California Attorney General Kamala Harris convened a group of county district attorneys Friday in Los Angeles to seek ways to reduce gun violence through enforcement of existing laws and prevention efforts.

Among the 11 DAs present were Nancy O’Malley of Alameda County, Jeff Rosen of Santa Clara County, Stephen Wagstaffe of San Mateo County, Edward Berberian of Marin County and Gary Lieberstein of Napa County; also present were the top prosecutors from Los Angeles, Merced, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara counties. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and former Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a Democrat now seeking the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office.

“Gun violence continues to be a distressing and persistent problem in the United States, but California is leading the nation in smart, common-sense gun policies designed to protect our communities,” Harris said in a news release. “By working together, law enforcement and our state’s district attorneys can make a difference by improving enforcement and increasing prevention to help keep all Californians safe from gun violence.”

This “leadership group” will prepare a report of best practices that will serve as models for law enforcement in other communities to adopt, and as models for potential legislative reform.

Harris took the opportunity to once again tout the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS), which matches lists of handgun and assault-weapon owners to updated lists of convicts and mental-health patients so that firearms can be seized from those barred by law from owning them. Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law SB 140, which diverts $24 million into the badly backlogged APPS program from a surplus of background-check. In the first four months of 2013, agents have collected 461 firearms and 23,080 rounds of ammunition statewide.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • MichaelB

    Where’s the laugh track?

    California leads the nation in silly, knee jerk responses from Harris’ own political party that do nothing to address criminal activity. Ammunition taxes on law abiding purchases/citizens to fund “violence prevention” programs, confiscation of magazines legally owned because they hold more than 10 cartridges,reclassifying more firearms as “assault weapons” and banning them for legal purchase, mandatory insurance policies for legal gun owners and banning gun shows at the Cow Palace. Anyone who had common sense wouldn’t promote this as a “solution” for violence because criminals will simply ignore it.

    The so called “leadership group” (if you want to call them that) is just going to want more legal restrictions on gun ownership (to reduce it as much as possible) while paying lip service to going after actual suspects/perpetrators.

    If you want to “make a difference” in stopping violence of any kind vote the liberals/progressives out of office.

  • JohnW

    Excellent Op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post by Ted Nugent’s brother and gun companion, Jeffrey. He and Ted are obviously very close and both strong 2nd Amendment defenders. But they disagree on background checks. Food for thought.


  • For Liberty


    This fake politician, Harris, doesn’t care about gun violence (R.I.P. Officer Espinoza).

    This was nothing more but a ploy and scheme for her next attempt at a new elected office, which will probably be the governorship of CA.

  • JohnW


    “The semiautomatic weapon used to kill Officer Isaac Espinoza was a Chinese-made Norinco SKS version of an AK-47 assault rifle, shipped to the United States into the state of Georgia in 1987.”

    “Federal records show that the weapon was passed through the hands of gun dealers in Sacramento and Elk Grove before being bought in March 1987 by a man with an Oakland address. He later told authorities he bought it at a gun show. The last legally registered owner, he told federal officials in 2004 that he couldn’t remember what he did with the weapon. [understandable. happens all the time when people just can’t remember whatever happened to that AK-47 style rifle they bought]. — Sarcasm added

    In early 2004, Marvin Jeffery Jr. — a convicted felon on probation who was free as part of an agreement to be a San Francisco police informant — bought the weapon for $1,500 from a man he identified as “Ali” at a liquor store in Oakland. Authorities later interviewed the man, who said he did not remember where he got the weapon.”

    “In late March or early April 2004, Jeffery exchanged the “AK-47″ for three 9mm handguns in a deal with David Hill at Jeffery’s home in San Ramon.”

    “On April 10, 2004, Hill allegedly used the “AK-47″ to shoot Officer Isaac Espinoza…”

    SOURCE: 9/18/2006 article in SF Chronicle, by Jaxon Van Derbeken

  • Elwood

    @ 4

    And this excuses Harris for being a bleeding heart liberal **** who won’t seek the death penalty for a cop killer how?

    Typical SF dimmiecrat now unfortunately in Sacto.

  • JohnW


    The article is about Harris convening DA’s from around the state to discuss how to reduce gun violence through enforcement of existing laws and prevention efforts. Hard to believe anybody would criticize that.

    Her election to DA is before my time, but hasn’t she always been up front about her opposition to the death penalty or to seeking it in cases prosecuted by her office when she was DA? And the people voted for her knowing that. I’m a life-long death penalty opponent but confess to occasionally having a twinge of self-doubt on the subject when it comes to cop killers.

    The point of my last post was to use the Espinoza case to show how guns get into the hands of bad guys. With better anti-trafficking and background check laws, it would be more difficult for people like Espinoza to get guns.

  • For Liberty


    Espinoza is deceased. He’s the victim (last sentence, last paragraph).

    Nice account on the historical tracking of the gun, except for the part where you left out the fact that it was Hill who pulled the trigger to kill Espinoza and then Harris, out of political motivation and reputation both current and future, decided not to charge the death penalty. Now you and I both know that even if Hill did receive the death penalty, the chances of him being executed are slim to none. However, Harris slapped the Espinoza family, the SFPD family and CA law enforcement in the face when she turned her back and decided not to pursue the death penalty. Especially when her decision was motivated politically. Knowing that Hill would most likely die of old age rather than being executed, she still needed to make the statement by seeking the death penalty. She didn’t. She was wrong and made an intentional mistake for political purposes. So, like you, she likes everyone to think that she is solving the problem by going after the gun/s, rather than the murderer who pulled the trigger.

    For a review of the personal part of the story, which JohnW left out, see the summary from the SF Chronicle printed a year after the killing: “Officer Isaac Espinoza was ready to end an unusually quiet shift about 9 p.m. in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco, looking forward to celebrating Easter the next morning with his family. The 29-year-old decorated officer loved working undercover on the tough streets. Nothing could keep him from his mission. Not the risks of a gang war. Not a potentially career-ending injury. Not urgent pleas from his family to find a safer assignment. Meanwhile, David Hill headed out into the same neighborhood after playing video games at a friend’s house. Nothing could keep the 21-year-old off the streets. Not his numerous brushes with the law, which began at age 10. Not his mother’s decision to leave the city or her efforts to help him find work out of state. Not the slayings of his closest friends from the West Point projects, where he grew up.

    An hour later, Espinoza would be dead, the first San Francisco officer slain on duty in a decade. Soon afterward, Hill would be accused of killing him.

    One year ago today, the tragedy became one of San Francisco’s most emotionally charged homicide cases. District Attorney Kamala Harris’ decision not to seek the death penalty developed into a national controversy…..”

    “Isaac Espinoza set himself on a path to the Bayview after joining Daly City’s Westmoor High football team in 1989. His charismatic coach, Mike Williams, was an SFPD sergeant who patrolled the Bayview. He enthralled Isaac with stories of tracking down drug dealers and thugs who plagued parts of the neighborhood.
    Isaac already knew the Bayview from his family’s stories. His grandfather had worked in the shipyards that boomed there during World War II. But when the docks closed and the storefronts shuttered, the sunny hillsides of housing projects and two-story homes became notorious for pockets of violent crime. By the late 1960s, the Espinozas had moved to the suburbs. Although Isaac was a class clown at Westmoor, he was serious whenever his coach talked about police work. He saw how Williams treated people with dignity, taking young people on his beat camping and fishing. Williams told Isaac: “The police aren’t always about arresting people. We’re real people, too.”

    In 1990, Isaac became a peacemaker on campus, using his popularity to soothe racial tensions between black and Filipino students after a young African American neighbor of Isaac was shot by a Filipino gang member near Isaac’s house. By the time he graduated in 1992, Isaac was determined to become a police officer.
    He studied criminal justice at Skyline College in San Bruno and got an associate degree in general education. In 1996, after about six months on the waiting list, Espinoza joined the SFPD.

    On his first day at the Police Academy, he wore glasses and a little hair on his chin. The 21-year-old wanted to look older but was soon ordered to shave. His academy mates teased him good-naturedly about his perfectly combed, slicked-back black hair. Espinoza rolled with it, quickly becoming known as a nonstop prankster, once talking in a Southern accent on the police radio for an entire shift.
    Once out of the academy, Espinoza asked to work in the Bayview. One year later, he talked Derrick Jackson, his close friend from the academy, into working with him on the busy Bayview night shift. Here, he said, they “could do real police work.”

    “In 2002, the FBI got involved, and the SFPD decided to crack down by forming an elite plainclothes unit that would go undercover to set up drug buys and make connections with gang members.”

    “One of the first officers selected for the special anti-crime unit was Isaac Espinoza.”

    “He seemed the ideal choice.”

    “Taking a cue from his mentor, Sgt. Williams, Espinoza addressed people he met on the street — thug or friend — as “Mister.” Though he stood only 5 foot 7, he was sinewy, fast and smart, and officers marveled at how he defused potentially violent situations.”

    “Espinoza put his heart and soul into his work. What he observed in the Bayview made him committed to help the people there. Like the time he saw a kindergartner sleeping on a mattress soaked with his own urine and feces, while the child’s mother smoked crack in the next room. Or the woman from the Hunters Point projects who called him every day on his cell phone, fearful about life there.”

    “Sometimes, Espinoza would pour out his frustrations to Renata, his wife and high school sweetheart. At first, all Renata knew about her husband’s beat were the gunshots she had heard while at church in Hunters Point, where her father had been a pastor until his family decided his work there was too dangerous.
    “But Isaac would always tell me that he wanted me to see the other side of the neighborhood,” Renata said, and after she met some of the people on his beat, she understood her husband’s devotion. Still, she was afraid.”

    “David Hill, at 19, was released from the California Youth Authority in mid-2002, and for the next two years, he would have several chances to turn his life around and leave the Bayview for good.”

    During his incarceration, Hill had started reading voraciously, particularly the Bible. It was quite a change for someone who had read at a third-grade level, and Hill told friends that they, too, should follow Christ’s teachings.
    But that June, within weeks of Hill’s release, investigators back in the Bayview found a bulletproof vest in Hill’s room at the family’s West Point apartment. Because Hill was on parole only for juvenile offenses, the vest was not considered a violation, as it would have been if he were on parole for crimes committed as an adult.”

    “Officer Espinoza chased a vehicle to the 200 block of West Point Road. A 5-foot-10, 250-pound man got out and began running. It was May 2002, shortly after Espinoza had gone undercover in the Bayview.”

    “Espinoza followed the man up a chain-link fence, gripping the suspect’s shirt as they approached the top. The suspect jumped, clearing several clothesline support poles. Espinoza didn’t make it. His foot caught the top of the fence on the way over, and he had no way of controlling his fall. He hit a metal pole as he went down.”

    “Lying on the ground with a broken wrist, dislocated elbow and foot, Espinoza didn’t call for help until the suspect was captured. Espinoza was awarded a Purple Heart but had to go on disability.”

    “In early 2003, Espinoza returned to duty and went so far as finishing fifth in a police athletic contest, doing 49 pull-ups and running 5 miles around Lake Merced despite the metal pins in his leg. The fitness buff had no intention of sitting behind a desk.”

    “But in a few weeks, his leg began hurting, and his mobility was limited. Espinoza was back on disability.”

    “Now, it seemed almost everyone he knew was telling him to get out of the Bayview. His mother, Carol, wanted him to transfer to a quieter station across town. “Think of all the good restaurants you could eat at in North Beach,” she said.
    Even his mentor, Mike Williams, implored him to leave the neighborhood and take a much-needed break.”

    “But in February 2004, Isaac returned to the “real police work” that he had found in the Bayview. One night, his wife, Renata, asked: “Ise, why do you want to stay?”
    He replied, “For the good people who live there.”

    “On April 10, 2004, Hill stopped playing video games at a house in the Bayview and left with friends. It was 9 p.m. Not far away, Espinoza was patrolling with Officer Barry Parker, a soft- spoken 37-year-old from Texas. The two devout Christians had bonded since being paired in early March, when Jackson, Espinoza’s longtime police partner, went on disability for a back injury. Espinoza called home: “Renata, wait up for me, I’ll be home early. It’s pretty quiet, and we have to do a couple more rounds. Then I’ll be home.” At 9:34 — 26 minutes before they were supposed to be off — Espinoza and Parker noticed two men on the 1300 block of Newhall Street, a residential neighborhood outside of Westmob territory, just off Third Street. One of the men appeared to be hiding a gun. He touched his coat and turned away, a subconscious move that suspects sometimes make when they are hiding a weapon. Espinoza had just learned about “touch and turn” at a seminar.
    As the officers approached, the two men on the street split up. Parker continued to drive the officers’ unmarked Ford Crown Victoria behind the suspicious man.
    According to Parker, Espinoza beamed a flashlight from his window, saying, “Police! Stop!” The man replied: “Man, I don’t have any ID on me,” and walked faster. Espinoza got out from the passenger side. He kept his department-issued Beretta in its holster and started to walk after the man. Parker got out of the car. Thinking there might be a foot chase, he stayed near the vehicle in case the officers had to pursue the man. Espinoza, now on the sidewalk, once again called out for the man to stop. The man, only about 10 feet away, turned around and fired 14 rounds from an AK- 47 assault rifle. Two bullets hit Espinoza, one passing through his side. The man fired at Parker, one bullet hitting him in the foot as he ran across the street for cover. The gunman ran up Newhall Street.
    Parker managed to call dispatch: “Officer down!” When reinforcements arrived, Parker was sitting next to Espinoza, repeatedly yelling his name.
    Espinoza was face down, with his hands tucked under him, moaning, bleeding, his breathing starting to slow. Within minutes, an ambulance rushed him to San Francisco General Hospital. When Renata arrived at the emergency room, she was not allowed to see her husband. For 20 minutes, she waited near the emergency room. Bayview Capt. Rick Bruce came up and handed Renata her husband’s police star. It didn’t register at first. The doctor approached. “I’m sorry, but we couldn’t save him,” he said, softly. Espinoza died at 10:12 p.m., 38 minutes after he had been shot. Renata felt as if she were dreaming. “I just kept saying, ‘Take me home. Take me home. I have to wait for Isaac. I have to be there for him. Take me home.’ ” When Renata finally saw Isaac in his hospital room, she thought he looked like he was sleeping in their bed. She approached him: “Isaac, wake up. Come home.”

    “Within minutes, San Francisco police recovered a coat — with Hill’s driver’s license — blocks from the Espinoza shooting scene. They also had found an abandoned AK-47, tossed over the picket fence of a home on Newhall Street. Trimble, a white Labrador, picked up a scent from the AK-47 and followed a trail leading to several backyards. A resident in one of the homes was Krystal Francis, David Hill’s girlfriend.”

    “Early Easter morning, Hill went to his grandmother’s house and told her he had shot someone by accident, authorities said. Hill then went to his mother’s home in Richmond before showing up around noon at the San Ramon Valley Medical Center in Contra Costa County. Though not hurt, authorities say, he was babbling about being a slave being beaten by white masters. The police arrested Hill that day.”


    “That rage was voiced at Espinoza’s funeral on April 16, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., rose before the congregation at St. Mary’s Cathedral and declared: “This is not only the definition of tragedy, it’s the special circumstance called for by the death penalty law.”

    “The audience of grieving family members and blue-uniformed police stood and cheered. Feinstein’s words prompted politicians from Sacramento to Washington to weigh in on the case. San Francisco’s police chief and police union called news conferences to demand the death penalty. Federal investigators got involved, with an eye toward bringing a death penalty case of their own.”


  • MichaelB


    It’s easy to criticize it because it’s the predictable “blame guns” and “guns cause violence” message.

    Background checks (regular or “expanded”) will not be complied with by criminals. Harris is a left wing Democrat and she’s already praised California’s gun laws (some of the strictest in the nation)and wants more of them. There’s nothing “common sense” about the new ones Democrats in Sacramento want to pass.

    It all ads up to further erosions of the 2nd Amendment/additional firearms bans to supposedly “prevent gun violence”.

  • JohnW

    @7 For Liberty,

    Thanks for the correction. Obviously, I meant Hill. Embarrassing. My bad.

    I did read some of those other accounts you mentioned. I focused on the gun history part, because somebody suggested that the killing of Officer Espinoza was another argument against gun regulations. In my opinion, if anything, it is another argument for background checks and anti-trafficking. But I don’t expect to persuade anyone.