Searching for Justice: In for the Long Haul

There are many stories like Kelly Thomas‘s,  read about Cesar Cruz’s story, different but the same…..murder by the Police

-no longer do they serve & protect…..



Listen to Theresa Smith- Cesar’s mother on podcast here




Reported by Amber Stephens for

Photos by Davis Barber/


She is a thorn in the side of the Anaheim Police Department.  At least, that’s what she has been told.

Theresa Smith is the mother of Caesar Cruz, a 35-year-old Fullerton resident who was shot by Anaheim police officers in a Wal-Mart parking lot in 2009. Cruz was married for 12 years and had five sons.

Frustrated with the lack of information from authorities regarding his death, Smith has organized and led weekly protests outside the Anaheim Police Department.

Despite protesting each week at the heavily trafficked intersection, most Orange County residents may not know who she is. She’s been there with family and supporters for over a year and a half yet Cruz’s death has long fallen off the public’s radar.

Orange County Register, ABC7 News and OC Weekly reported the story of her son’s death and a family vigil. In March 2010, her protests also received coverage from those media outlets. However, Smith said, she hasn’t been contacted by the media since.

There is one thing she wants to make clear to authorities: she wants justice for her son and she will not stop until she gets it.   

Smith had tried for many months to follow up with the Orange County District Attorney and the Anaheim Police Department regarding her son’s death. She said was unable to receive any information from either agency.

The OCDA investigates all officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. According to its website, investigations seek to determine criminal culpability and do not address policy, training, tactics or civil liability.

During an interview last month on PBS SoCal Special on the Kelly Thomas investigation in Fullerton, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas confirmed that during his tenure, his office has never prosecuted a police officer for a shooting death.   (

According to Anaheim Police spokesperson Sgt. Rick Martinez, the Anaheim Police Department conducted a thorough internal/administrative review of the shooting. The details and outcome cannot be released as it is handled a personnel issue, which is protected from public information requests.

Cruz’s family filed a civil lawsuit against the Anaheim Police Department. In February, there was a protective order regarding information deemed confidential for all parties involved in the civil litigation. As a result, there are few details that are available to the public or the media.

According to Smith, she did not receive any information regarding the investigations until the civil case started depositions this month.

Susan Kang Schroeder, the DA Chief of Staff, said there is no legal requirement for the office to release their findings to the families/next-of-kin of the deceased in officer-involved shootings or in-custody deaths.

Families can ask the DA for the information after the investigation is completed, Schroeder says. Whether or not it is released to them “is done on a case by case basis,” she adds.

The DA fully cooperates with legal and civil subpoenas requesting information about the investigation.

Schroeder cited a new office policy as a way the public and families can get information about their investigations into these types of cases.

Continue Reading @ Fullerton Stories


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