Unanswered Questions in Shooting of Officer

The untimely death of Santa Maria Police officer Covarrubias is a tragedy. I attended his funeral last Monday to honor his service to our community.

Our democracy’s strength is based on our inalienable rights and “innocent until proven guilty” is one of them.

Chief Macagni’s denial of any recognition of Officer Covarrubias’s four years of service to the people of Santa Maria is unconscionable. Chief Macagni is playing “judge and jury” on Officer Covarrubias’s alleged consensual relationship with a 17-year-old.

The information being released is creating more questions than answers. Why did they send his best friend to make the arrest? Why didn’t they make the arrest when he was off-duty? According to Chief Macagni, the alleged affair was being investigated. Why, then, would they assign the young lady to the DUI checkpoint where Officer Covarrubias was on duty?

There are two charges of misconduct pending against chief Macagni in line of his duty. These charges (and the sworn statements of the chief’s use of racial slurs, which includes Officer Covarrubias’s ethnicity) should disqualify him from this tragic case.

I have been informed that the “private” investigator looking into the allegation against Covarrubias worked for the same law firm, also retained by the city, that is defending the chief in one of those misconduct allegations. This conflict of interest is outrageous.

The mayor and council of Santa Maria must assume responsibility and request the State Attorney General to investigate this tragic death. The Covarrubias family deserves an investigation not subject to any bias or any appearances of a cover up.

Toru Miyoshi has served on the Santa Maria City Council and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

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