Image Source: loudountimes.com
Image Source: loudountimes.com
[box type=”default” size=”large”] Lawyer Valera calls findings ‘a travesty of justice’ [/box]The National Federation of Filipino Association (NaFFAA) said it is disappointed by the results of an internal investigation into the shooting death of Filipino-American Mylene “Mhai” de Leon-Scott at a Costco warehouse in Loudon County, Virginia on May 29, 2013.

The report on the investigation results was also criticized by Filipino-American lawyer and Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) member Arnedo Valera who described the findings as “a travesty of justice.”

One of the sheriff’s deputies who responded to a call for help had admitted having shot De Leon-Scott, but claimed he did it in self defense.

In a statement, NaFFAA National Chairman Ed Navarra said that “while we understand that police officers need to use force to protect themselves, we continue to believe that when guns were fired at Mhai Scott, it was an unreasonable and excessive use of force which showed a reckless disregard of the life of an innocent woman.”

Navarra expressed solidarity with Mhai’s family members “who continue to grieve and suffer as it deals with the consequences of their painful loss.”

He said that Mhai’s family “cries for justice and that the Filipino- American community will pursue all means to ensure that justice is done. Law-enforcement authorities must be held accountable for negligence and failure to exercise prudence in cases where other options would have saved the life of victims.”

Navarra reiterated NaFFAA’s call on the Loudon County Sheriff’s Department to review its policies on the use of force, especially when confronting people who pose challenges because of cultural, racial and psychological factors.”

The tragedy offers an opportunity to improve the training of sheriff deputies, particularly in dealing people with mental disorders, he added.

Lawyer Valera, meanwhile, said that MHC is bringing the findings of Attorney James Plowman (investigator) to the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He said he will ask the Attorney General to review the findings and demand filing of charges against the deputies for homicide.

“The findings constitute travesty of justice. For when police exercise their powers to use force, it must be compatible with human rights. The use of force by the deputies should always be human-rights compliant and if use of force is necessary, police should always exercise the utmost restraint, minimize damage and injury and more so death.” Valera said.

“Lethal force should be used only as a last resort. With these findings, Justice was the one killed,” he added.
Earlier, it was reported that the deputies responded at 3 p.m. on May 29, 2013 to a report of disorderly person in a warehouse of Costco. When they arrived, they found Scott “behaving erratically” and wielding a 13-inch knife and a pair of scissors.

The report stated when Scott refused to respond to the demand to drop her weapons, the deputies tried to subdue her with Tasers but she showed no reaction.

Scott charged at the three deputies with the knife and scissors raised. One of the deputies identified only as K. Foster fired five shots, four of them fatal.

The investigator, Attorney James Plowman said, “The deputy’s actions constituted a justifiable homicide undertaken in self-defense of others.”

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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