With Hulu’s ‘Killing County’ delving deep into the alleged merciless ways of the police departments in Kern County, California, we get a complete insight into the realities of our justice system. In other words, it comprises first-hand accounts of those close to the matter as well as archival footage to really shine a light upon the rising officer-involved violence over the past few years. Amongst the cases to thus be charted in this three-part original is that of James De La Rosa — so now, if you wish to learn more about the same, we’ve got all the necessary details for you.
How Did James De La Rosa Die?
Although James (born Ramiro James “Gordo” Villegas) was merely 22 when he lost his life in one of the worst ways imaginable, he’d already established himself in his hometown of Bakersfield. The truth is he was not only an employee of excavating contractor service Sturgeon and Sons but was also the youngest of six children, and consequently reportedly very close to his family. It hence comes as no surprise the youngster actually meant a lot to many people, just for everything to shatter apart on Mount Vernon Avenue in the evening hours of November 13, 2014.
It was on this fateful Thursday that Bakersfield Police Department officers attempted to stop James’ Jeep upon noticing it move erratically, resulting in a chain of events no one could’ve expected. After all, he pushed through onto Highway 178 instead of yielding, leading to a high-speed car chase which ceased only when he suddenly crashed into a signal light pole upon taking the offramp.
According to police records, James immediately jumped out of his Jeep to approach them in a seemingly aggressive manner, especially as he didn’t even comply with any order to stand down. Therefore, as soon as he touched the waistband of his pants, the officials at the scene opened fire under the impression he intended to attack them until he could flee again — they shot him to death.
Who Killed James De La Rosa?
While there’s no denying James died owing to the split-second decision and force put into play by law enforcement officers, a review board ultimately ascertained there was no criminality involved. As per their verdict, even though the 22-year-old was unarmed, the actions of the four cops who ambushed him were under state and federal guidelines, all the while following department policies.
Though we should mention these four Bakersfield Police Department members were Senior Officer Rick Wimbish, Officer Edgar Aguilera, Officer Frank McIntyre, and Officer Valeria Robles. While the former had deployed his taser while James approached them to no avail as the darts completely missed him, the latter three were the ones to fire their work-assigned weapons amid the chaos.
All four of these individuals were allowed to return to work, but the one who was placed on administrative leave on November 15, 2013, before being let go off for good in 2014 was Aaron Stringer. He wasn’t involved in the shooting, yet he did something so morbid in the ensuing hours that it alarmed civilians and authorities alike — he joked around with James’ body at Kern Medical Center. Senior Officer Aaron had first helped secure the scene before arriving at the hospital the victim had been transferred to alongside a rookie, just to manipulate his corpse for no good reason.
It’s reportedly not unusual for experienced cops to have trainees examine the body following such incidents to educate them on every aspect, but the force does have a clear rule of no touching. However, Aaron grazed James’ feet while saying “tickle, tickle,” pulled on his toes, moved his head as well as jaw, and then even joked about the phenomenon of rigor mortis not setting in him yet. As if that’s not enough, he also told his subordinate he “loves playing with dead bodies,” making them uncomfortable enough to report the entire incident to the higher-ups to ensure action was taken.
Additionally, it’s imperative to note that James’ family filed a lawsuit against the city on the grounds of wrongful death, civil rights violations, and “tortious interference with the decedent’s body.” After all, a couple of witnesses later allegedly came out to claim the victim had actually complied with the officers’ commands once he stepped out of his vehicle on that fateful evening. Plus, since he’d recently lost a lot of weight, his loved ones believe it’s likely he was simply going to adjust his loose pants when he reached for his waistband, nothing more. This lawsuit was eventually settled with no admittance of guilt or apology from the Bakersfield Police Department.
Read More: Jorge “Pelon” Ramirez’s Death: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?