1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” – Paulo Freire, Educator

Justice for Hernan Jaramillo

Here's the message we sent to our members. After you've read it, please add your voice.

“I can’t breathe…they’re killing me...” Those were some of Hernan Jaramillo’s final words.

Oakland police killed him, then kept the evidence a secret for 2 years. Demand justice:

Dear Friend,

“I can’t breathe…they’re killing me.” That’s what 51-year-old Hernan Jaramillo said over and over while police kneeled on his back, ignored his pleas for help, and watched him die.1

It was all caught on video. But it took more than two years for the video to come out – only when an inside source finally leaked it to the media. If it were up to the police and Oakland authorities, we might never have known what happened. Now, they won’t say whether there was an internal investigation into Jaramillo’s death, or whether any of the officers involved were disciplined.2 In fact, they’re refusing to answer any questions about his death at all.

You can demand that the officers who killed Hernan Jaramillo be fired and prosecuted, that all police killings are automatically investigated, and that evidence like the video of Jaramillo’s death gets released immediately.

Hernan Jaramillo worked as a realtor for years, lost his job after the economy crashed in 2008, then went back to school. When police killed him, he was living with his older sister and working as a salesman for a local solar panel company. Jaramillo was never accused of committing a crime and had no criminal record. His sister called the police for help, because she thought her brother was in danger. But instead of helping Jaramillo and his family, the police killed him – then kept the truth about his death quiet for two years.

His sister, Ana Biocini, feels guilty about calling the police that day. She heard noises coming from his bedroom that made her think an intruder was in his room, and she called the police. “At the same time I was calling the police for help, I was calling the guys who were going to kill my brother in the street.”3

Officers kneeled on Jaramillo’s back, repeatedly ignoring his pleas (and those of his sister) to let him sit up and catch his breath, and eventually Jaramillo went silent. That’s when one police officer says “OK now, because you are quiet, you can sit.” But it was too late – they had already killed him.

Demand accountability for the officers who killed Jaramillo, and the policies that led to his tragic death.

It is shameful and outrageous that the Oakland police kept the video of Jaramillo’s death out of the public eye. At the time of his death, they released a vague, sanitized statement that glossed over the details of what happened. Meanwhile, they had video showing exactly what happened, and they kept it from the public.

About a year after Jaramillo’s death, Staten Island police killed Eric Garner in a shockingly similar incident.4 If the video of Jaramillo’s death had been made public when he was killed, it would have created an important public conversation about police use of force, and likely made officers think twice about what they were doing as they kneeled on Eric Garner’s back and ignored his cries of “I can’t breathe.” It could easily have prevented Eric Garner from being killed. It also would have given Oakland residents an opportunity to demand much needed changes to the city’s policing practices.

No one should have to live in fear that police who have sworn to protect us might end up killing us instead. But too often, the police treat Latinos and Latinas, Black people, and other people of color like second class citizens. In 2014, police in Half Moon Bay, California shot and killed an 18 year old girl named Yanira Serrano-Garcia after her family called the fire department for help. Yanira was struggling with mental illness. Instead of helping, the police officer who came shot her within 30 seconds of arriving.5

What happened to Hernan Jaramillo and Yanira Serrano-Garcia are two tragic examples of an epidemic of police violence against Latinos, Black people, and other people of color. We hear so many stories of reckless and unjust police violence in our communities that the fight for justice can sometimes feel impossible. But we also know that when we join together, stand up, and demand justice, we can make progress.

Please join us demanding justice for Hernan Jaramillo, and pushing for policies that will help us hold police accountable.

Thank you for all you do and ¡adelante!

– Favianna, Matt, Oscar, Erick, and the Presente.org team.

P.S. Can you donate $5 to support our work? We rely on contributions from people like you to see campaigns like this through.

1. "Oakland: Body camera shows man screamed 'I can't breathe' before death." Contra Costa Times. January 26, 2016
2. See reference 1
3. "Can there be lesson for police in senseless death?" San Francisco Chronicle. February 1, 2016
4. "'I can’t breathe!' Police overreach, Eric Garner and the chokehold of racism." Salon. July 22, 2014
5. "Family urges more law enforcement training: Shooting death of Half Moon Bay woman in June prompts demands at Board of Supervisors meeting." The Daily Journal. April 14, 2015