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Review of Ruben Salazar death released

February 22, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Mistakes and poor tactics by L.A. County Sheriff's deputies led to the 1970 death of prominent Latino reporter Ruben Salazar, according to an independent review of the incident released Tuesday. The review finds Ruben Salazar was not targeted by the department.

It's a women's clothing store now, but 40 years ago it was the Silver Dollar Café. It was well known in Boyle Heights for what happened there. A plaque on the wall commemorates the day.

It was there during a huge anti-war demonstration in 1970 that well-known Hispanic journalist Ruben Salazar, an L.A. Times columnist and news director of KMEX-TV, was killed by a sheriff's deputy firing a tear gas canister into the café. Salazar was fatally struck in the head.

"It's just kind of peculiar that they would shoot tear gas into a local bar without having a suspect that was either committing a really heavy crime. It doesn't make sense," said Boyle Heights resident Jaime Sandoval.

"I've heard that they don't know what really happened. They don't know how he was killed," said East L.A. resident Maria Cardenas.

Yet for more than 40 years there has been speculation and rumor that Salazar was targeted because he was critical of the sheriff's department. He had told people he thought he was being followed because he had been critical of law enforcement tactics in the city's Eastside.

"The series of tactical errors detailed in the report rather definitively point to a hashed-up operation in a sea of chaos that resulted in the death of Mr. Salazar, rather than a deathly designed operation," said Michael Gennaco, chief attorney, L.A. County Office of Independent Review.

The Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review released its report on the Salazar shooting. Eight boxes of evidence were reviewed in the case.

The report concludes that deputies employed poor tactics and made mistakes that resulted in Salazar's death.

And there is no evidence that Salazar was either targeted on the date of the incident or intentionally killed by the deputy who fired the fatal tear gas projectile.