2011-03-01 "Poccia shooting far from justified" letter by Peyton Fatherree to the editor of "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
I am a resident of Napa County and reside in Napa, across the street from where Richard Poccia lived. That the Napa County District Attorney’s Office found that the shooting of Mr. Poccia was in reasonable self defense is absurd. The statement issued by DA itself points to an error in judgment (the officer thought the 4-inch folded knife was a gun) which would make the shooting not reasonable, but a horrible mistake, at best.
One of our citizens was shot dead in the middle of the street in Napa County and the official response is that, that was OK, that was a reasonable response. It is not OK and the credibility of the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and of course, the Napa Police Department have been irreparably damaged. At best this was a horrible mistake and tragic for all involved, but for an act such as this to be glossed over and termed justified is inexcusable and clearly exhibits the difference between the laws the citizens of Napa County are held to and those the government is allowed to follow. Is our justice system so weak that it cannot apply to all? Are we afraid that any admission of error would deflate our system? Can we not even tolerate the admission of a mistake? It is difficult to believe that these findings are the result of any rigorous endeavor to unveil the truth.
I am outraged and so should be every government official and resident who cares about freedom, civil rights and honest law enforcement in our county. I believe that it is critical that law enforcement is honest and responsive to those they serve. This finding makes a mockery of this idea and of the justice. Shooting and killing a citizen because he has been drinking or lunges at four police officers or has a 4-inch knife is not acceptable for anyone in our society and totally indefensible. Think about what response this incident would receive were it not an officer-involved shooting.
I was questioned the day of the shooting, but no one cared to answer my question of why when I ran to see what had happened, I saw my neighbor lying dead in the street with his hands handcuffed behind his back.
(Editor’s note: According to Napa Police Department Cpt. Jeff Troendly, it is standard operating procedure to handcuff a suspect after the suspect has exhibited any aggressive behavior, even if the suspect has subsequently been wounded.)
(Fatherree lives in Napa.)