On Feb. 8, the family of Michael Barrera and their supporters gathered to mark the four-year anniversary of Michael’s death in 2017 at the hands of the Woodland, California, police. In a scene similar to Eric Garner, George Floyd, and countless others, Michael was killed after being tased multiple times while handcuffed with his face down, as five or six police officers piled on his back mocking him.
According to a report by District Attorney Jeff Reizig, “Barrera said he could not breathe,” multiple times before vomiting and becoming unresponsive. Reisig — who has a long record of excessive and racist charging practices — ruled that officers used “reasonable and necessary force,” and the killers are still on the force today.
At the demonstration in front of the Yolo County Superior Court, Michael’s father, David Barrera, said: “Every day there are two-three victims of police terrorism, and everyday there are more we do not hear about. We are here for justice for Michael and the victims who are no longer here. It’s systematic racism. I call it genocide. Michael’s murder was similar to George Floyd’s. There was no body cam on the police when Michael was murdered. The police turn their body cams off.”
Michael’s sister Marissa Barrera described the events on the day her brother was killed. She went to the hospital and was not allowed to see her brother’s body. She then found police in her brother’s home. When she asked why they were there without a warrant, they threatened to arrest her.
Marissa recounted that a Woodland PD sergeant told her that Michael was running away from cops and was unarmed. She went on to review that a witness stated that Michael had said he had been attacked by three men. In the last year, the Barrera family has received new audio and photo evidence and will be proceeding with a wrongful death lawsuit accusing the officers of unreasonable force.
‘I knew early on there was a cover-up’
“I knew early on there was a cover-up happening,” Marrisa said at the demonstration. “When officers approached him they had guns on him. He told officers he wasn’t a threat. He said I didn’t do anything. An officer used his taser so much on my brother it impacted one of the other officers, who had to ask him to stop. My brother was in handcuffs face down. I’ve learned the tasers are electronic torture devices, and there is no reason to be using them on people who are handcuffed and face down. Michael was down in handcuffs for three and half minutes, asking for help saying things like I can’t breathe.”
Michael’s father also described how Marrissa founded Voices of Strength to uplift the voices of families directly impacted by police killings to seek justice and healing. The organization hosts a weekly YouTube series with impacted families from across the nation.
Participants in the Feb. 8 action pledged to continue the fight for justice for Michael Barrarea and all victims of police terror.
Photo credit: Liberation Staff