Protesters call for justice

Officials still won't confirm if Chavira was shot in the back.

Photo by Matthew Zimmerman Banderas.

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— About 130 protesters marched up and down Isaacs Avenue on Monday evening, calling out for justice for Cesar H. Chavira, who was shot and killed May 4 during an attempted burglary at the New York Store.

“What do we want?”

“Justice.”

“When do we want it?

“Now.”

The crowd chanted, as it marched from the intersection of Roosevelt, up several blocks, past the New York Store, and then turned around at Link Street and marched back again.

The procession continued for about two hours from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Earlier in the afternoon, many of the same protesters walked in front of the County Courthouse on Main Street from 4-5 p.m., according to protesters.

At dusk, dozens of the protesters lit candles, and throughout the march protesters carried signs whose messages ranged from generic pleas for justice to accusations that have yet to be officially verified or denied by the Walla Walla County Coroner’s Office.

“Justice for Guero,” “A belt buckle can be replaced! Cesar’s life will not,” and “He shot Cesar 5 times in the back,” were just a few of the signs held high for motorists to read.

There was also one sign held by Camerina Alejandre that clearly stated her relation to Chavira, and what she felt happened.

“My son got shot in the back,” her sign read.

As Alejandre led the march down Isaacs, the mother of Chavira made it clear she had no intention of ending the protests.

“Until justice is served. We are not going to give up,” Alejandre said.

Monday’s march was the second protest since Chavira was shot and killed by New York Store owner John Saul.

The shooting death has rocked the community, with Saul supporters saying the business owner had a right to protect his property and Chavira supporters claiming the 22-year-old was fleeing Saul when he was shot in the back while outside the store.

More than two weeks after the fatal shooting, officials still won’t confirm if Chavira, 22, was shot in the back.

The investigation of Chavira’s wounds falls under the jurisdiction of County Coroner Richard Greenwod, who refuses to comment on the entry points of pellets until toxicology reports are completed. Those reports could take several weeks to return, Greenwood said.

“I know it sounds like I am putting you off and I blame Hollywood for that, but toxicology takes anywhere from four to 12 weeks in real life. It’s not like CSI,” Greenwood said.

But three days after the May 4 shooting, local radio station KTEL reported that Undersheriff Edward Freyer confirmed Chavira was shot with 47 shotgun pellets to the back, which penetrated Chavira’s organs and exited the front of his body.

Another news report had several shotgun casing found near the doorway.

The sheriff’s office is no longer commenting on Chavira’s wounds or other preliminary findings while the investigation is open.

Family, however, are certain Chavira was shot in the back.

Other questions center on whether Chavira threatened Saul, who has since retained an attorney and, at one point, was said to have refused to talk with investigators.

Officials confirmed that no firearm was found on Chavira, and his body was found on the opposite side of Isaacs across from the New York Store.

As for the forensics information — which is expect to include shell casing location, pellet direction and possibly determine if Chavira was running from Saul — it is currently being conducted by the Sheriff’s Office.

Greenwood added, “One thing you need to take into consideration is you might want to go out there in the dark and determine is someone running toward you or away from you.”

Under Washington state law, autopsy reports are available only to official investigators and immediate family.

Alejeandre said she will request a copy of the report, and she feels strongly it will confirm that her son was shot in the back while running away.

“I am trying to stay positive. I just want justice for my son. I hope the law will do their work. We don’t know anything about the law,” Alejandre said.

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