Testimony regarding the proposed Fruitvale gang injunction concluded this morning after nine weeks of court proceedings. All evidence will be submitted by April 22, and closing arguments for the first phase of the proceedings against 40 alleged Norteños are scheduled for May 4.
Probation Officer Dalen Randa finished his testimony three weeks after it was interrupted by the courtroom arrest of defendant Javier Quintero, 27. Quintero allegedly violated parole by accepting a ride to a legal meeting from longtime friend and co-defendant David Pelayo, 25. Pelayo, who sat near Quintero during previous court hearings, was taken into custody for a probation violation last Thursday and is currently being held in the Alameda County Jail at Santa Rita. According to Randa, Pelayo will be fitted with a GPS anklet when he is released from custody. It’s not clear whether Pelayo is being held for associating with a “known gang member” like Quintero, or if his violation is for possession of marijuana during the car stop.
Fourteen of the forty defendants are currently in custody, according to defense attorneys.
During cross-examination, Defense Attorney Yolanda Huang pressed Randa about familiar points, including the size of the safety zone, how officers identify gang-related apparel, and specifics about defendant Abel Manzo. Manzo and Quintero are the only defendants who would be affected by the preliminary injunction if it is approved by Judge Freedman on May 4. After the conclusion of “Phase I” of the trial, Judge Freedman will review the cases of each defendant who wishes to have their day in court, potentially extending proceedings for weeks, if not months.
Randa, the probation officer for five defendants, told the court he had selected Manzo to be on his caseload of gang-related probationers. Following a line of questioning previously pursued by the defense, Huang asked Randa about his reasons for taking on Manzo’s caseload and violating his probation repeatedly. In response, Randa said that Manzo repeatedly violated his probation by not complying with requests and continuing to associate with alleged gang members.
Randa also helps lead Oakland’s gang call-in program, which aims to reduce violence through non-traditional law enforcement and community outreach methods. Randa regularly contacts parolees and probationers who will be summoned to the call-in sessions. Randa said he downgraded Manzo’s probation status from gang-related to “as needed” because Manzo had taken part in a Fall 2009 call-in and was using the services offered to him by the program.
“I wanted to give him a further chance to change his life,” Randa said. Lowering Manzo’s probation level because of his participation in the call-ins was “one less restriction for him [Manzo] that he might consider to be holding him back.”
However, Randa said that Manzo returned to gang status after attending a Norteño funeral and a confrontation between the two at a West Oakland call-in that ended in the burly probation officer restraining and handcuffing Manzo.
Although Huang did not question Randa about Javier Quintero because the defense has argued his ongoing detainment in Santa Rita is violating his right to due process (a position rejected by Judge Freedman), a declaration filed this week by Randa offered additional information about the probation officer’s involvement with Javier Quintero. Quintero, who is on parole, had his security level increased to “gang” status after Randa observed him wearing a green crucifix while on patrol with Oakland Police officers on September 24, 2009. During his testimony two weeks ago, Randa claimed he was only aware that Nortenos used red to identify themselves.
Proceedings resume Thursday, when the court will decide what evidence we will consider before the verdict. The defense is also trying to quash subpoenas by the city seeking employment and educational records from the 40 alleged gang members.