By Jonathan Thunderbird-Olivares
As many as 80 people gathered at Mariachi Plaza on Sunday at a vigil and rally to honor and remember Fred Barragán, the 36-year-old man killed the day before in an LAPD officer-involved shooting near the Gold Line Soto station.
Some spoke of Barragán’s kindness, respect and comedic outlook on life.
“He was really funny and goofy,” recalled a close friend who asked to be identified only as Moo Moo. “He came up to a lot of people and would say ‘you’re a part of my family.’”
Mourning relatives of Barragán’s declined to speak to the media, but members of community collectives such as Defend Boyle Heights, Unión de Vecinos, Ovarian Psycos and the Chicano East L.A Brown Berets, decried what they described as the LAPD’s lack of transparency when it comes to officer-involved shootings.
Barragán is the sixth person to be shot and killed by LAPD officers in Boyle Heights in less than 14 months. All of the killed were Latino males, including two teens: 16-year-old José Juan Méndez, in February of 2016, and 14-year-old Jesse James Romero, in August.
On a windy and bright Sunday, many wept as they marched from Mariachi Plaza to Soto Station, first making a stop at the site near Breed Street and César Chávez Avenue where Romero was shot and where an altar and memorial has been kept since.
Participants, some with tears in their eyes, chanted “Justicia Para Jesse” and “Justicia Para Freddy”.
“We’re tired of seeing so many of our people die at the hand of cops,” said community organizer Caro Vera, who organized the “Emergency Rally & Vigil”. “Boyle Heights alone has had more people killed by cops than South Central, which once was the hotspot for extrajudicial killings by law enforcement officials.”
Barragán was shot shortly after midnight Saturday in an alley behind the Gold Line Soto station. In a statement released hours after the shooting, LAPD said officers from the Hollenbeck Division were on patrol near 1st and Soto when they heard gunshots coming from the area of 1st and Breed. “They drove towards the sound of the gunfire when they encountered a suspect coming away from the area of the gunshots,” the statement adds. “When they attempted to stop him an Officer-Involved-Shooting occurred.”
Paramedics from LAFD pronounced Barragán dead at the scene. No officers were injured in the shooting and a gun was recovered from the scene.
On Monday, police said they had no new information on the case, which is under investigation by the LAPD Force Investigation Division.
The march ended at the alley behind Soto Station where a new altar has been erected and a fence painted with the name “FRED.” Some shared a video taken with a phone moments after the shooting, which has circulated in social media, that shows Barragán’s body being dragged a few feet, turned over and handcuffed by police.
Those close to Barragán were still trying to understand what led to the man’s death.
“He was dropped off at Soto station to get home,” said a family member who wished not to be identified. “Next thing you know he was running from the cops and shot in the back”