The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Lawsuit to be Filed Over Fatal Police Shooting of Suspected White Supremacist

By Bill Morlin on October 17, 2013 - 2:52 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, White Supremacist
Police said Del Real was carrying this bat.                Police said Del Real was carrying this bat.

A California civil rights attorney says he will file suit over the shooting death last month of a 39-year-old man described by police as “member of a known white supremacist gang.”

John Del Real Jr. was fatally shot shortly after 5 p.m. on Sept. 26 in Long Beach, Calif., by a “plainclothes officer conducting a narcotics investigation in response to several complaints from the community about drug activity in their neighborhood,” the Long Beach Police Department said in a prepared statement.

Attorney Brian Claypool now alleges the shooting was not justified and is calling for a criminal investigation.

“We plan to file a wrongful death, civil rights lawsuit in the near future,” Claypool told Hatewatch today in an e-mail.

The attorney, who recently won an unrelated multimillion-dollar wrongful death judgment against the Long Beach Police Department, told the Long Beach Gazette that the fatal shooting of Del Real was a “cold-blooded execution of an innocent, young Hispanic man.” One of Del Real’s two children witnessed the shooting, he said.

“We confirmed both through the medical examiner and through a photograph of the back of Del Real’s head that he was in fact shot in the back of the head,” Claypool told the newspaper. He also claimed that “after the officer shot Del Real, he shot him twice more when he was convulsing on the ground,” the paper reported.

In its prepared statement, the department said the shooting occurred after the officer noticed an individual “he believed was involved in drug activity” who refused several verbal commands and “approached the officer in a threatening manner.”

Del Real was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.  Police said they discovered a 31-inch aluminum baseball bat in the suspect’s waistband. It was the third shooting involving an officer in Long Beach that week, according to various media reports.

“It was determined that Del Real was an admitted member of a known white supremacist gang, a fact supported by the multiple swastika tattoos appearing on his body,” the police department said in a follow-up statement. Nancy Pratt, a spokeswoman for the department, declined to tell Hatewatch which specific racist organizations had been identified.

Public records show Del Real had an extensive criminal record in both California and Oregon. He has faced charges of domestic violence, theft, narcotics, exhibiting a deadly weapon and parole violation.

Claypool said that the undercover officer provoked a confrontation and failed to identify himself, the Long Beach newspaper reported.

That drew an immediate, sharp response from the Long Beach Police Department, which called Claypool’s public statements “inflammatory, completely inconsistent with the evidence, and grossly inaccurate.”

  • MRJ

    @ Erika,

    The wake up call came some years before that when a couple of guys in California (I think, it’s been a while) robbed a bank armed with AKs, etc..
    I still remember the news reports of police crouching down behind their cars with their 38s, while a guy in body armour emptied clips at them while standing in the middle of the street… right after that they started getting really serious about being out gunned by criminals.

  • Erika

    aadila, it could well be th ecase – the police have long drawn on a large number of ex-military types and now that we are seemingly forever stuck in Bush’s war, who knows how many of them will have undiagnosed PTSD or something.

    But in general, ther eis an increased emphasis on SWAT teams, military tactics, and militarization. The relatively small city where my parents live has had an armoured police car for several years (i believe they got it after 9/11). Even the smallest police forces seem to have SWAT teams, armored vehicles, high powered weapons, etc. Most seem to have come about following 9/11 when Bush created the DEpartment of Homeland [in[Security and provided aid for local police forces to essentially get military hardware in case Al Qeada shows up in Bucksnort, Tennessee.

    Fortunately, most police forces conduct psychological evaluations which keeps most of the real nutcases out, but inevitably some slip through.

  • MRJ

    It’s interesting to see this in a depressing way: that some Hispanics are actually being documented in Neo-Nazi or White Supremacist groups.
    I mean, I knew that, but try getting that through the heads of others.
    It’s good to finally see that validated.
    This puts the lie to the statement by various individuals in these local area hate groups that because they have Hispanic friends, or that they work with or employ Hispanics or Mexicans, or are even married to an Hispanic, that they and their Hispanic friends can’t be racists or part of a hate group.

    @ Erika, Aadilla,

    Yeah. And try to get anyone to listen to a recording of an LEO slamming Affirmative Action for women in a Police force with his underling, or his underling showing you a picture of a woman he knows engaged in lip-o-suction of her own breast on his “smart phone” and his statements about her not being involved with him any more because she doesn’t engage in oral sex with him anymore (using language not condoned on this forum), or recordings where they lie about what others say to each other, or knowledge of their extended family and friends engaged in drug use in their homes and on their property, or even that you have attempted to get them involved in an investigation into repeated racist harassment or threats going on in your neighborhood and they have never even shown up, or locals trying to engage you in Felony Theft/Misappropriation from State issued relief cards, or locals in a business making cracks about “Indian Water” and “Cocaine” aimed at you while standing next to one of the biggest racists (cross burner, violent assault, institutionalized for “anger issues” and attempted suicide who has admitted to ownership of firearms (also recorded), etc..) in the area and a local Cocaine dealers extended family, or knowledge of any number of Felonies regarding abuses of women, or locals admitting that others have lied during a murder investigation… or an FBI agent saying that he’s not going to “waste the tax payers money” if you offer to send him such recordings (or photographs/videos) as evidence for investigation because he would have to scan it for viruses or malware.

  • Reynardine

    George Zimmerman.

  • aadila

    White supremacist….hispanic….I’m thinking Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

  • Dan Zabetakis

    “some of the white supremacist prison gangs are well known to welcome Hispanic members”

    Well, I would _never_ join a white supremacist prison gang if it accepted hispanic members. I mean, really!

  • aadila

    Erika, to carry this very fruitful discussion a bit futher, and I agree by the way…

    Do you think that the large numbers of militarized, “hothead” (the police code word for someone who thinks they are above the law) Military Police coming out of the armed forces and into civil police work are part of this problem? It seems like they lack the temperament and training to handle themselves responsibly.

  • A.D.M.

    Thanks for correcting Dan, Reynardine. I would’ve done it myself had I not seen your comment. Next time, make that “some Americans.”

  • Erika

    dan, some of the white supremacist prison gangs are well known to welcome Hispanic members

  • Erika

    aadila, it is very common for police videos which contradict what they are claiming to “accidentially” get erased and those “accidents” almost never result in sanctions or acquittals.

    even when cops get caught committing perjury they are often not convicted and if convicted almost never ever have to serve hard time (and perjury is far from the only crime that it takes place – police forces have defended and protected some pretty disgusting conduct by cops).

    that is why the joke the 99% of bad cops give the rest of them a bad name has a whole lot of truth to it.

    that joke is also told about lawyers, but it has much less truth to it :)

  • Dan Zabetakis

    “Dan: he probably represented himself as a sangre azul Castillian, and he may have looked like one. “Hispanic” is a linguistic and cultural affiliation, not a race as Americans commonly understand it.”

    Yeah, but all that means “not white” to any white supremacist.

  • Reynardine

    Dan: he probably represented himself as a sangre azul Castillian, and he may have looked like one. “Hispanic” is a linguistic and cultural affiliation, not a race as Americans commonly understand it.

  • Sam Molloy

    If he was facing away from them and looked like he was reaching for a weapon then the hole in the back of his head was reasonably aquired.

  • aadila

    I think it’s time to require all law enforcement officers to have cameras on their person and/or their firearms.

    This is actually something which is being used in some departments around the country, and has been used successfully to defend police who are wrongly accused of misconduct. I understand it is quite common for a claimant to recant on claims of police brutality when shown the evidence.

    Unfortunately, there is apparently an off switch and my guess is cops don’t tend to want a video record of summary executions or beating minority teenagers to a pulp for mouthing off. Because of qualified immunity it can be almost impossible in some jurisdictions to pursue color of law violations without video evidence. Some grand juries simply give police a pass to do what they please.

    In cases (especially in California and Texas, which have the highest rates of death in custody/during arrest) where unarmed civilians are shot in the back and it would be useful to have a video record to determine if the use of force is justified. If someone is running with their back turned to grab a gun, I can see why a cop would have to shoot.

    There are quite a few cases as well where citizen journalists have been harassed or had their cameras taken while recording police actions on public streets, which is, as I understand it, a violation of civil liberties, because there is no law against recording events in public.

    Having an official video record of what police do while on duty seems to make sense, to protect LEOs as well as citizens.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    One question is how a hispanic man could be a member of a white supremacist gang. Doesn’t make sense.

    Anyway, there is a serious case here. According to the facts as stated he was not brandishing a weapon.

  • Reynardine

    If it’s the case that he had bullet wounds in the back of his head, I’d say this wants a good forensic investigation and whatever prosecutorial follow-up is warranted by the findings. I’d say this even if he were George Zimmermann.

  • Gregory

    I forgot to close the /joke tag for the benefit of the literally minded.

  • concernedcitizen

    @Gregory that’s funny

    I was getting confused they shot a white supremacists then shortly after they shot a Hispanic man?

    Officers are on edge when dealing with serious drug traffickers, as they should be…

    It’s a shame when innocent people get caught up in the cross hairs, but was this guy innocent or was he a dealer ignoring police commands that made them fear for their lives?

  • Gregory

    According to witness statements, the police asked Del Real, “Is that a bat in your trousers or are you just happy to see us?”.