Police Violence in Oak Park, San Diego

By Hashely Molotok

Januray 29, 2020

SAN DIEGO: In the afternoon hours of January 24th, in the Oak Park neighborhood of San Diego, a police officer shot and killed Toby Diller, who the police were attempting to make “an enforcement contact”. Toby took off on foot with the police, Officers Devion Johnson and Benjamin Downing, chasing him through 54th street and began struggling with him on the ground on Frontage road. The police’s story is that when they were struggling with Toby on the ground, that “he refused to cooperate” and “reached for the officer’s belt and gun holster” trying to “get hold of the gun” before the other officer shot him. But eyewitnesses said that Toby was face down on the ground when he was shot. Aside from allegedly holding the officer’s belt, there were no weapons found on Toby nor was he holding the cop’s gun.

There has been no clarification on what provoked this situation, but this is not the first time SDPD has threatened, struggled, and murdered someone than attempted to get their story “straight” (and I say this because three different articles that were published before this article said contradicting things, but only one contained any talk of an eyewitness). In 2016, 38 year old Alfred Olango was shot several times by police responding to a call for emergency psychiatric need. The cops claimed he was holding a gun, but it was just an e-cigarette. The same year another unarmed man named Sergio Weick was shot, with the police claiming “he was reaching for a gun”. The next year, the Deputy (Christopher Villanueva) responsible for the Sergio Weick murder, would shoot another unarmed man, Jonathan Cornel, 16 times. He would use the now colloquial “fearing for his life” defense. He would get away with two murders. In August of 2019, police murdered 52 year old Dennis Carolino, who were again responding to an “psychiatric emergency”. Police again said “they feared for their life” and claimed Dennis was advancing towards them with a shovel. They tased and shot him. An anonymous next door neighbor seemed to contradict the police report stating “It’s weird, I didn’t hear any screaming. It’s an interesting story,” he said. The neighbor was hosting a housewarming BBQ when said he heard 5 gunshots when it had been completely silent beforehand. The trend of the truth not lining up with what the police say, is nothing new. It is a disturbing recurrence that practically details most police killings in San Diego. A unarmed man dies face down, killed by police who “feared for their life”.

Almost immediately after Toby Diller’s murder, the neighborhood community set up a small memorial on the exact spot where he was killed. People who didnt even know him paying their respects, disheartened by the loss of someone’s family and friend. Neighbor Tina Patterson said, “I hope they find his parents, his family members, I just hope they come forward because he is a person too; he is a human too, and they need to know what happened,”. From other accounts it appears that Toby Diller spent a lot of time in the Oak Park neighborhood and was friendly with a lot if the people even if they didnt know his name. On Tuesday his family came to 54th and Krenning to mourn the loss of Toby. His brother tearfully saying “I shouldn’t be burying my brother. I wanted my brother to have a normal life. I just wanted my brother to get married, have kids”. The family and community are demanding answers, including body cam footage, due to conflicting reports of the police and eyewitnesses.

The sentiment among the oppressed in San Diego is one of love for their victims and rage at their state funded killers. Killings like these are a reminder of the need for community power and self defense, and a reminder of the exploitative and cold nature of the State. Our government is not here to protect the oppressed, but to prod them, keep them in line, and kill them of they step out of it. There will be tons of articles or news segments about these shootings that will be afraid to call a duck a duck and engage in cop apologism or “whataboutism”. But we must remember, these are not just “shootings” or “killings”, they are murders. And we must rise up and take the power back from these cold blooded murderers.