Friday, March 18, 2011

Andy Cortez Grants El Paso Times An Interview

Andy Cortez sat down with Daniel Borunda of the El Paso Times for an interview earlier this week. It's hard to believe that this is the first time that anyone outside of Andy's family and friends have asked him what happened almost one year ago. According to Andy neither the El Paso Police Department or the District Attorney's office has ever taken any sort of statement from him. The investigation is nearing one year yet no one has taken the time to ask Andy what happened that day. It's not like they could have taken a statement the day of the incident. He was hunched over the steering wheel left for dead. The video showed Officer Jorge Gonzalez pacing back and forth while talking on the phone yet he never tried to render aid or ask Andy any questions, you know like are you OK? Are you breathing? For god sakes he could have asked if he was alive. He could have told Andy to hold on because help was on its way. But officer Gonzalez was too worried about getting his story straight to worry about making sure Andy was OK.

Andy laid in the hospital unconscious for several days. So no one could have gotten a statement then. He then had a tracheotomy tube to help him breathe that prevented him from talking for a while. So a statement wasn't possible at that time either. But it's been eleven and a half months now. Andy talks in a very faint voice but he can give a statement. But there is nobody there to give a statement to. Nobody from any office or agency has ever asked for a statement. Officer Gonzalez is back on the job shooting at people giving the same exact excuse for shooting at them. The Police Department has ruled the shooting to be justified without taking into consideration Andy's side of the story. People have moved on and forgotten about Andy. It's sad how news stories have cycles. News outlets drop a story to cover another. First Charlie Sheen and now David Marmoloje have pushed the story of the second shooting involving Officer Jorge Gonzalez aside. People can forget but Andy's and his family will never forget what happened April 1, 2010.

Andy's family wrote an open letter to the District Attorney's office asking that a separate agency investigate the shootings. They did not receive any response. So they sent out another e-mail.

"More than a week has gone by since this email was sent out and we have yet to see an official response from the DA's office.  I fully understand that DA Esparza has been busy with the Marmelejo case in San Antonio and its understandable and expected to have a delay.  However, Gonzalez' criminal investigation file lies on your desk and we would like for you, DA Esparza, or someone else from DA's office to provide an update on this matter."

People on the internet have said that Jaime Esparza has been out of town and busy with the high profile case. What? One case can't shut down the whole office. Did they all get up and go to San Antonio to help Esparza? Of coarse they didn't. There are people here in El Paso running the office so the family deserves to get some sort of response. Andy's life has been changed for ever, the least they can do is respond to an e-mail.

Andy Tells What Happened

Andy speaks to the El Paso Times
Andy sat in an electric wheel chair in his living room to talk to the El Paso Times reporter. He just received the wheel chair that allows him to get around by controlling a joy stick with either his chin or his nose. He still needs a little practice using the chair but he did his best to show the photographers how he has to move around now.

Daniel Borunda asked Andy to describe the events that took place April 1, 2010. Andy hesitated for a second and then said:
"I was going back home, I was turning to the right. I let go of the brake and I hit the truck. I tried to pull over to the right....that's it. Then I couldn't move." 
Borunda asked Andy why he was trying to move the car to the right. His answer was what most people would respond.
"I was moving the car to the right to let other cars pass" 
A very simple and logical answer. Andy simply did not want to impede traffic. But what happened that day was not what happens to most people after a minder fender bender. Officer Gonzalez jumped out of his vehicle and shot Andy.
"I don't remember him getting out of the car." "I just remember waking up in the hospital not being able to move. I couldn't believe it, my mobility was taken away from me over a little fender bender."
What goes through your mind Andy? asked Borunda.
"It kind of makes me mad, I can't walk.......can't feed myself......I go to the restroom in a tube.....for what? For a little crash?. It's just not fair. I got my life taken away from's not fair."

Its hard to see a 21 year old who once jumped around and enjoyed his youth have to live the rest of his life in a wheel chair. He relies on family and care takers to do everything for him and I mean everything. Andy was in a rehab hospital in Lubbock for several months and has only been home since October. His mother tells me that getting Andy around is almost impossible. They do not have a vehicle to move him around in. An ambulance has to take him around town. I asked his mother how many times Andy had left the house. She said he had been to three doctors appointments and had been in the hospital three times. So that means he has left the house a total of six times since October. Can you believe that? Andy's family is looking for help to be able to provide Andy with transportation. A vehicle big enough to carry Andy and his new wheel chair.

The interview was only about 30 minutes long. The photographer took some pictures and they were gone. I stayed with Andy and his mom a few more minutes. I wanted to know how Andy really felt. I wanted to know how he felt about Officer Gonzalez. I wanted to know what should be done to Officer Gonzalez.
"It's just not fair........I got my life taken away from's not fair."
"He makes up stories to justify him shooting me.......he makes me look bad and its not true."
"He has to pay..........he has to go to jail."
People have read Andy's story in the paper and have already made up their minds. A lot of people quickly jump to defend the officer just because he is an officer. They are quick to judge Andy and his past. yet they forget that Officer Gonzalez also has a past. This officer was suspended after he was found to have lied in a police report to cover up an arrest that should have never taken place.

Richard Wiles once told me (yeah, I'm about to use Wile's words in a positive way, I think, so take note) that the police department had to recognize trends, analyze the police officers that develop these trends and remove them from the department before they become a danger to the community. That sounds like a fantastic strategy. Unfortunately it is not followed. To many times the Department and the City defend the officers for fear of legal action. They would rather spend time and money defended their employees than risk being sued if they admit fault. It is sad but true. The chance of being held liable over shadows justice every time. Too many times these officers (not all officers just several bad apples) spend several stints on administrative leave or administrative duty because they are under investigation. And too many times these police officers end up either "resigning" after many internal investigations or fired after another misconduct allegation.

As a victim of police abuse myself I can tell you first hand how Andy and his family might feel. They feel betrayed. They no longer feel safe around anyone in uniform. They have problems with authority. They have trust issues. They feel mad, they feel confused they feel enraged. At one point they might even feel like they could have done something to prevent it. But none of this was their fault. They couldn't have done anything to prevent Officer Jorge Gonzalez from shooting Andy. They couldn't have dodged in front of the bullet, they couldn't have wrestled the gun out of Gonzalez' hand. What happened has happened and no one can change it. Nobody can rewrite the past, no one can make Andy walk again. But I'll tell you what. Andy and his family with your help can keep this from happening to another family. They can prevent Officer Gonzalez from ruining another person's life. They can help get Officer Gonzalez off the force and maybe even save somebody's life. Unfortunately we live in a city that is reactive and not proactive. They would rather fire a police officer after he kills someone instead of taking him off the force after showing signs of anger and violence. Back in April I said that nothing would be done to Officer Gonzalez or about this case unless he shot someone else. Here we are eleven months later and another shooting later yet the Police Department sees nothing wrong with Officer Gonzalez. What will it take for the City and the Police Department to see that Officer Gonzalez is a danger to society? Will we have to see somebody die before they get rid of him? I sure hope not. I would hate to have to see a family loose a loved one because nobody did anything. Take a look at the pictures below and see how Andy's life has been changed for ever. Before he was shot Andy was working at a restaurant and looked forward to being a Chef. He wanted to be able to take different ingredients, throw them together and make something good for people to eat. Now he can't even feed himself. Let's not let Officer Gonzalez ruin another young man's life.
Andy before April 1, 2010

Andy after April 1, 2010


  1. Well, with all respect... he has 3 sentences to say? That's the extent of what he has to say in the one year since the incident?

    "I was going back home, I was turning to the right. I let go of the brake and I hit the truck. I tried to pull over to the right....that's it. Then I couldn't move."
    I mean, that's not much to say. But you still wonder why the reporter was only there 30 minutes? I'm surprised he was there that long. To the media this is not much of a story. There's nothing to dispute the officer's side of the story or to show why the female officer suffered injuries when she was hit by Cortez.
    Even if he did give a statement what does this prove?
    It also doesn't explain the skid marks the car made backing up into the vehicle after the initial impact. Why did he go in reverse to "go right"?

  2. You are asking why he went in reverse to go to the right. That is telling me that you are basing your knowledge of the facts on the words of Officer Gonzalez. You are taking his accounts as fact. Did he go in reverse? Did he strike the female officer? That is still to be disputed. The Departments investigation was closed after basing it solely on the officers accounts. The same officer who lied in the past when he had another questionable incident. If he lied to cover up an unnecessary arrest. What makes he think he wouldn't lie to cover up an unnecessary shooting?

    As for Andy not saying much. He said what happened. And your right, it wasn't much. It wasn't much that happened. It wasn't much to have to be shot. It was a simple fender bender. No hit and run, no police chase, no pinning people under the car. And those skid marks you talk about. I took pictures of those marks days after Andy was shot and I have been to that McDonald's parking lot several times since that day. You will always see black tire marks left by many cars. Doesn't mean the cars were speeding off. The constant stop and go of cars causes tires to leave marks in high traffic areas like an entrance to a very popular fast food restaurant.

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