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June 27, 2022

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LULAC condemns Jan. 9 fatal shooting by Vancouver police

By , Columbian staff writer, and
, Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:

In a statement issued Saturday, the League of United Latin American Citizens of Southwest Washington condemned the Jan. 9 fatal shooting of a 45-year-old man by Vancouver police officers at a mobile home park.

Luis A. Ku Huitzil died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office. His death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

“We hope that in the future the Vancouver Police Department and policing in general find ways to use less lethal force so that the individual in question can have a fair trial to determine guilt,” the statement reads. “Instead, we have a judge, jury and executioner in the position of policing.”

The four officers involved, identified as Monica Hernandez, 42, Timothy Pfeifer, 41, Christopher Bohatch, 37, and Ryne Briley, 32, were placed on critical incident leave, which is standard protocol in a police shooting.

None of them were wearing body cameras. The Vancouver Police Department had ended its 60-day trial period for a camera vendor early at the end of December.

LULAC said the shooting highlights the need for body-worn and dash cameras, “so that a better understanding of the circumstances that lead to death by homicide of our communities of color can be reviewed.”

“We know this to be true in actions by police in Clark County over and over again. We watch as non-Hispanic individuals get arrested and brown and Black men are shot dead,” the statement reads.

The organization also pushed for more independence in investigations into police shootings, instead of law enforcement investigating itself.

“Using police to investigate police is a failure at its best and a cover-up at its worst,” the news release said.

The SW Washington Independent Investigative Response Team, led by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the shooting.

According to Columbian archives, three of the officers, Pfeifer, Bohatch and Briley, have been involved in prior police shootings.

Pfeifer was among a group of officers who fatally shot 31-year-old Sebastian T. Lewandowski in November 2014 while responding to the Alder Creek Apartments after an argument between a man and a woman escalated, and the man set fire to the apartment. The officers encountered Lewandowski, who was carrying what appeared to be an AR-15 style rifle, in the complex parking lot and shot him when he refused to comply with their commands to put down the weapon.

Bohatch wounded then-31-year-old Demarcus D. Roundtree on Thanksgiving 2018 during a traffic stop after police found Roundtree inside a suspected stolen vehicle near the East Fourth Plain Boulevard onramp from southbound Interstate 5.

Briley wounded then-23-year-old Irving Diaz-Rodriguez on Thanksgiving 2020 while attempting to arrest him during a domestic disturbance at a residence in east Vancouver. Diaz-Rodriguez reportedly swung a bat at officers as they tried to enter the home through the garage.

Prosecutors found all three shootings to be legally justified.

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