Widow of man slain by L.A. County deputies defends him
Rosanna de la Trinidad anxiously circled the living room of her apartment.
After a night spent at her niece’s quinceanera, she tucked her two daughters into bed just after 10:20 p.m. and waited for her husband, who was getting a ride home with his brother.
Minutes turned to hours; Saturday night gave way to Sunday.
“I was pacing, I was crawling, I was all over the place,” she said.
It wasn’t until she watched the morning news that she found out her husband wouldn’t be coming home.
Jose de la Trinidad, 36, was shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies just minutes after leaving the party. He was unarmed.
Officials say two sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop the car carrying Jose de la Trinidad — which was being driven by his older brother Francisco — as it sped along Wilmington Avenue.
But instead of pulling over, Francisco de la Trinidad led deputies on a brief chase before stopping — abruptly — in the 1900 block of East 122nd Street.
Jose de la Trinidad “quickly” exited the passenger seat and lifted his hands, a sheriff’s official said.
What happened next is a matter of interpretation.
Authorities said he appeared to be raising his hands from his waistband. Believing him armed, deputies opened fire and fatally shot Jose de la Trinidad.
His family members insist he was lifting his empty hands to his head.
“He was a hardworking man who didn’t deserve this,” said Rosanna de la Trinidad, who says her husband was attempting to surrender to police.
“He was not armed, he got out of the car and put his hands up,” she said, adding that witnesses told her they heard as many as 14 gunshots. “He did what he was supposed to do, and now he’s dead.”
His brother, who family members believe may have been intoxicated after a night of celebrating, sped off again before crashing his vehicle at the intersection of El Segundo and Avalon boulevards. He fled on foot but was apprehended by police.
Franciso de la Trinidad, 39, is being held on suspicion of probation violation and felony evading in lieu of $75,000 bail. Records show he served prison time for a previous conviction.
“As to what happened at the scene, that will be determined by multiple thorough investigations,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker, who said the shooting will also be subject to an independent review.
But the only detail that matters to Rosanna de la Trinidad is that she believes her husband is innocent.
“How am I supposed to explain to my daughters that their father was murdered by the police, the people who they are supposed to go to for protection?” Rosanna de la Trinidad asked.
Sheriff’s Department officials have released few additional details about the shooting and say the incident will be fully investigated by multiple agencies, standard protocol for all deputy-involved shootings.
But no amount of investigation will repair the shattered family, Rosanna de la Trinidad said.
“We were celebrating a special tradition, a big celebration, and then it ended up turning into a tragedy,” she said.
The couple’s 6-year-old daughter is in shock and barely speaking, Rosanna de la Trinidad said. The 3-year-old doesn’t understand that her father is gone.
“We have to keep explaining to her that he’s her angel now, that she won’t get to see him,” Rosanna de la Trinidad said, tearfully.
Times staff writer Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.
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