December 4, 1975
Judge dismisses shooting case
Cop won't face trial
Applause filled the courtroom this week as Municipal Judge T. Bruce Iredale dismissed the manslaughter charge against National City Patrolman Craig Short, 29.
Short was charged for fatally shooting Luis "Tato" Rivera, 20, during an investigation Oct. 12 of a purse snatching incident at St. Anthony's parish Hall.
WITH THE dismissal yesterday of the charge, Short is eligible to return to duty and for restitution of back pay he didn't receive while suspended pending investigation, according to Chief John Liesman.
Iredale took nearly an hour yesterday for his summation of the reasons for dismissing the charge against Short, but the key points in Short's favor, according to Iredale are:
-"No evidence of criminal negligence."
-"Short's action was justifiable under the circumstances."
-"Short knew the suspect had a history of violence."
"Short had information that Rivera had pistol whipped his own father (Incident reported in July)."
"To rule otherwise," said Iredale, "would make a mockery and set impossible standards for law enforcement."
Iredale said Short "believed he was going after Rivera on 211 purse snatch involving violence."
SHORT'S BROTHER officers attempted to congratulate him after the ruling and to shake his hand. He was rushed from the courtroom surrounded by other officers.
Iredale's summation was completed at approximately 3 p.m. yesterday, climaxing eight weeks of furor that followed Rivera's death as a result of a gunshot wound in the back.
That furor spawned demands for investigation of local police practices, the firing of Liesman and ultimately the recall of Mayor Kile Morgan, Vice Mayor Michael Dalla and Councilman Joe Reid for failure to act in the Rivera matter and for alleged insensitivity to the needs and wishes of National City's minority communities.
The furor probably will not abate with the judge's decision.
The Ad Hoc Committee for Chicano Rights which alleged "cover-up" when the San Diego County Grand Jury refused to indict Short is to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. today at the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee Center at 9th St. and A Ave.
A caller notifying The Star-News of the conference said that the committee's "official position on the dismissal of charges against Officer Short" will be announced at the conference.
Columnist leaves town to 'pull self together'
Jose Viesca, the Star-News columnist who was beaten and bloodied last week by four men he said told him it was because he wrote about the National City police, has left the area for a month, his wife said yesterday.
He failed to turn in his weekly Spanish-language column, Aqui Estamos, to The Star-News this week, and The Star-News and Chula Vista police were unable to contact him.
HIS WIFE, Raquel, said she has not seen him since a few minutes after he was attacked Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 26. But Tuesday night, she asserted, he telephoned her and told her he was going away for a month.
"He said he needed some time to pull himself together," she stated. "He told me he did not want to get involved in the case (the attack upon him) until he comes back."
Viesca told Chula Vista police last week he had been attacked in the Fed-Mart parking lot at Quintard and Palomar, Chula Vista.
Chula Vista police have tried to contact him to get more positive descriptions of his attackers, and National City manager Robert Bourcier has offered to show him photos of all National City policemen, in case they were involved in the attack.
But no one has been able to contact the columnist.
THAT SAME night, in an unrelated incident, Viesca was arrested by National City police after he had been found sitting in his car in a parking lot. A routine check showed that he was wanted on a traffic ticket violation, and he was taken to county jail where he was released Friday at 1 p.m.
Mrs. Viesca said her husband telephoned home from jail and told his son of his arrest, but did not come home after his release.
She said she had an extra set of keys to his car, which she picked up at the parking lot. In the car were Viesca's clothes and blankets. She said that, when he left the house after the attack, he told her he would be going away for a while. "He was very upset," she asserted.
She said that Viesca had left home once before when he was upset.
"I am not worried," she said. "He will be coming back. He needs his family."
MRS. VIESCA said that, in the Tuesday night phone call, he did not tell her where he had been, but she suspects he was either in Los Angeles or Tijuana, where he has friends. She said he told her he would stop by to get his clothes, but did not know when it would be.
Mrs. Viesca, (a beauty parlor operator) who is not at home during the day, said she does not know whether she will see her husband.
"He has a key," she asserted. "He can come by any time. The main thing is that he's okay."
Chula Vista police Agent Merlin Wilson, who is working on the case, said his investigation is reaching a stalemate because of Viesca's disappearance.
He said National City police officials had pledged their cooperation in the case.
Viesca has written several columns sharply critical of a National City policeman's killing of a Puerto Rican youth Luis "Tato" Rivera, during investigation of a purse snatching.
Viesca said his attackers were four brawny Anglos who he asserted, told him that he and his family "would be sorry" if he didn't stop writing articles about the National City police.
"Hello I am the sister of Luis Tato Rivera, I want to correct a couple of comments made about my brother. When officer Craig Short shot my brother in the back, my brother never had any purse on him nor did he ever pistol whipped our father with a gun. for those who knew him he was a good person, and for the ones who did not know him please keep your bad thoughts of my brother to yourself. Don't get me wrong about my brother being perfect. He had problems like any other teenager. But he would never have taken a gun to take anyone's life. That I can tell you for a fact."