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2002-09-19

Another Rodney King?: Seven Months Ago California Cops Were Caught On Tape Shooting Down An Unarmed Latino Man Who Had His Hands in the Air. We Examine the Case and Look at Why It Is Only Now Getting

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First it was Rodney King. Then it was Donovan Jackson, the 16-year-old boy in Inglewood who was slammed onto a police car and punched. These are the most prominent incidents of videotaped police brutality in the Los Angeles area in recent years.

But there is another tape. It captures the police machine gunning down a 26-year-old man named Gonzalo Martinez. Gonzalo was unarmed. The video indicates he had his hands in the air when he was shot.

If you lived in Argentina you probably know this story. If you watch Spanish-language television in the U.S. you have probably seen the video. But unlike the Rodney King or Donovan Jackson beatings, the footage of Gonzalo Martinez has almost never been shown on national English-language television. The tape has been broadcast so infrequently that even the mayor of Downey California, where the incident took place, told the Los Angeles Times in August that he still hadn’t seen the video.

And why the difference in coverage? Perhaps it is because the Downey police hired one of the largest public relations firms in the world, Hill and Knowlton, to represent them. Is this investigation about truth or spin?

Hill and Knowlton is the same firm that mislead Congress 10 years ago at a hearing that was used to justify the bombing of Iraq. Hill and Knowlton represented a woman who testified she saw Iraqi soldiers throw Kuwaiti babies out of hospital incubators. But what Hill and Knowlton didn’t say was that the 15-year-old girl identified as Nayirah was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador and that what she said wasn’t true. She had left Kuwaiti long before the Iraqi soldiers arrived.

By the way, Hill and Knowlton also represented Turkey known for its killing of its Kurds. And it represented Indonesia at the height of the killing of the Timorese.

Guests:

  • Norma Martinez, mother of Gonzalo Martinez.
  • Steve Lerman, attorney for Gonzalo Martinez.
  • Steve Rendall, senior analyst with Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting.

Tape:

  • Robert Alaniz, Downey, CA "Police Spokesperson," who works as a Vice President at PR firm Hill and Knowlton.

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