(en) Cover-up of Police Murder of Homeless Man --Santa Cruz, CA,

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 13:17:19 +0000

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Note: to hear the eyewitness testimony recorded by a Free Radio Santa Cruz reporter, go to the A-Infos Radio Project http://radio4all.web.net



Police shot and killed Happy John the Hippie (John Calvin Dine) on Wednesday night, claiming he was "brandishing a toy gun." Yet their investigation makes no mention of at least seven witnesses who say otherwise.


"At one point he took what appeared to be a weapon from either his belly pack or knapsack & pointed it at the officers in a way that it appeared to the officers he would fire. He went to a combat stance as the Chief said."

--District Attorney Art Danner 11/13 Press Conference (from which alternate media Free Radio Santa Cruz, which broke the story & had contrary witness testimony was excluded)

"He went to his waistband...and drew a weapon in what was described as a combat stance and pointed the weapon at the officers." "All procedures and policies were followed" ---Police Chief Steve Belcher 11/13/97 Press Conference

THE EXCLUDED WITNESSES "Happy was holding nothing that I saw. " --Stacey Buckelew, witnessing from a parked car 30' away from the shooting

"The man didn't put his arms up or shout anything. I didn't see him display any type of weapon. Why would the cops shoot this guy if he didn't do anything?" --Alani Balawejder, New Leaf Market employee, witnessing from the roof of New Leaf, quoted in the 11/14 San Jose Mercury News

"They just walked up and blasted the guy....He told them to fuck off and they just literally blasted the guy, cold-blooded murder. Point blank at five feet. He had his hands down. There was no weapon in his hands." --Tom Murphy, man walking by, interviewed fifteen minutes after the shooting by Vinnie of Free Radio Santa Cruz at the scene of the slaying

"I don't think he had a weapon either." --unidentified male witness at the scene in the same interview (3 more witnesses are not quoted who agreed Happy John did not brandish a weapon)

PHONE IN UNTIL THEY ANSWER! Santa Cruz Mayor Cynthia Matthews and City Council: 408-429-3550 Santa Cruz Police Chief Steve Belcher: 408-429-3700 District Attorney Art Danner: 408-454-2400

FILE A COMPLAINT WITH THE CITIZENS POLICE REVIEW BOARD ! Phone in at 429-3263 or walk in at 915 Cedar 9 AM- 1 PM Mon-Thur Stay tuned to Free Radio Santa Cruz at 96.3 FM for updates (427-4523, call-in: 423-5361) Call a talk show (KSCO 479-1080) and demand justice! File complaints when you see or experience police misconduct!

Flyer by HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) 408-475-2012 11/14/97

Homeless United For Friendship & Freedom (408)423-HUFF Fax 429-8529 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Fri, Nov 14, 1997 Santa Cruz, Ca. USA

Brandishing and Combat Stance Not substantiated by 6 Eye Witnesses Police and DA had own witness "Along for the Ride" The Police shot and killed of John Calvin Dine, a formerly homeless man, who three witnesses described as unarmed and non-threatening. Later identified as John Dine, "Happy John the Happy Hippie", the victim reportedly died of gunshot wounds to the abdomen an hour and a half later at Dominican Hospital.

A witness, Tom Murphy, in an interview broadcast several hours later on Free Radio Santa Cruz (96.3 FM) reported the shooting seconds after the victim asked for spare change from a passing stranger. One witness, interviewed on Free Radio Santa Cruz (96.3 FM) stated "he was just sitting on this wall. Two cops drove up, jumped out with their guns drawn, said 'Hey you. Get the hell off the wall. " The man jumped down from the wall, his hands at his side and said "Fuck You". Then one cop shot him twice in the chest. The other cop looked dumbfounded, just staring in amazement. He couldn't believe what the other cop had done."

"Happy Hippie" John, as he was known to the regulars on Pacific Avenue, had his own, special response to his homelessness, his speech impediment, and his brain damage -- he was stuck in the late 60's during the summer of love. Stuck in virtual bliss, always ready to give a peace sign, and with no malice for anyone. Claiming to be a regular Rainbow gathering devotee, John practiced non-violence even as a response to the injustices he, and other homeless people must endure nightly. He had slept at the City Hall Sleepers Protest in 1996, receiving sleeping ban tickets there to protest the Sleeping Ban law. He endorsed the Sleeping Ban Repeal Initiative filed with the city on the morning after his death.

The rumor on the streets about Happy John was he had taken WAY too much LSD at some point in his life, and had worn love beads and bellbottoms ever since. Happy John thought Santa Cruz was "real groovy." Recently he had been seen at the Metro station, playing his Beatle songs on his boombox, a paisley head band on his head, and a smile on his face. No one ever asked why they call him "happy" John after meeting him.

The police reported John had been waving a gun and threatening two kids on skateboards earlier in the day. One of John's "victims" was claimed by Lt. Joe Haebe to have been " in the back seat of the police car at the time and had an excellent view of the shooting." At a press conference given by the District Attorney's office, Police Chief Steven Belcher reported statements given by two witnesses, corroborated police reports on the incident. Six witnesses to the shooting, not considered by Police, all reported his hands were empty at the time of the shooting. Two witnesses reported he was shot after saying "Fuck you" One of John's friends, said John did own a toy gun -- a clear red plastic squirt gun. Police claimed finding a toy gun near the body. It was black.

The Committee to Repeal the Sleeping Ban "I think that something should be done to interrupt the sleep of people who pass such laws." --- Howard Zinn at an event hosted by the Resource Center for Nonviolence 10/25/96 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Fri, Nov 14, 1997 457-9754 ext. 182 ***** PO Box 1735, Santa Cruz, Ca. 95061 ***** fax(408)429-8529 Sleeping Ban Repeal Initiative, filed with the City of Santa Cruz Will Legalize Sleep/use of Blankets

As District Attorney Art Danner in conjunction with Police Chief Steve Belcher convened a press conference to pacify the public over the shooting Death of "Happy John" Dine by police on Wednesday evening, The Committee to Repeal the Sleeping Ban filed its notice of intent to circulate a petition to Repeal both the Sleeping Ban and the Blanket Ban portions of the cities anti-homeless Camping Ban Law. Happy John, a well-known, sometimes homeless, fixture on Pacific Ave. had been gunned down on Front St. by Officer Conner Carey of the SCPD. "Happy" John Dine had been ticketed under the Sleeping Ban as part of last year's City Hall Sleepers Protest, a vigil against the Sleeping Ban. He supported the initiative, claiming police had used the law to harass both himself and others.

It is fitting that we begin to gather signatures of the 3700 registered Santa Cruz City voters at this time, to put the initiative on the November 1998 General Election ballot. Santa Cruz City Council, which passed the original Sleeping and Blanket bans in 1978, has refused to reconsider them in spite of extensive homeless protest, a city shelter emergency, and pressure last winter from Celia Scott and 2 other Council members for a Winter Shelter Emergency Exception.

If 10% of the registered voters in Santa Cruz sign petitions to put the Initiative on the November ballot in the next six months, the voters will for the first time be able to directly express their will on the issue. If successful, this will be the first time any city in the United States has used the initiative process to repeal a Sleeping Ban. Please Donate now! Funds needed to publish notice of intent, print Petitions,pay signature gatherers,expand phone lines, and get online. Make all checks payable to: The Committee to Repeal the Sleeping Ban For more information contact Becky Johnson at 408-429-8529 or David Silva at 429-5284.

Partial list of those endorsing the Initiative: Santa Cruz Action Network,Womens International League for Peace and Freedom, Regional Alliance for Progressive Policy, The Green Party of Santa Cruz County, The Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco, BOSS, Berkeley, Paul Brindel of the Community Action Board, Geronimo (Pratt) Ji Jaga, Rev. Wiley Drake of Buena Park, Ca.,Keith McHenry of S.F. Food Not Bombs, Former Governor Jerry Brown, San Jose Community Homeless Alliance Ministry, Joe Grossman of Community TV, Ida Robinson of Families with a Future, Sandy Brown of the Fair Share Network, Paul and Harriet Blue, Carol Denney, PeopleUs Park Activist, Elaine Charkowski of the Cabrillo Voice, Elizabeth Cable, Bernard Klitzner of the Peace and Freedom Party, Theodora Kerry of the Hemp Council, Bob DeBolt of radio station, KZSC, Robert Norse of Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom, Kate Wells, City Hall Sleepers Protest pro bono attorney, Ray Glock-Grueneich, David Beauvais, civil rights attorney, Mr. Twister, Mike Sheridan of the River St. Refugees, Dr. Benet Luchion of the Toxic Network, Ed Frey, Robert Flory, Sleeping Ban activist, Peter Stafford of the Homeless Garden Project, Lonna Merklinghaus of Citizens Committee for the Homeless, Tom Musselwhite of Project Recover, Eugene, Or.,Paul Johnson of the ACLU, Jennafer Waggoner, editor of Making Change (Santa Monica), Laura Tucker of California Homeless Civil Rights Action Network and Alan Brady, hemp activist,Terry Messman,Street Spirit, S.F. Dr. Paul Lee, co-founder of The Citizens Committee for the Homeless, Geronimo Pratt, and many more.

Repost of earlier story:

Tonight (Wednesday November 12) around 7 p.m. at Soquel and Front Streets in downtown Santa Cruz, Officer Conner Carey fired two or three bullets into a local street person, alternately known as Happy John, Happy Day, or Happy Dave. Three witnesses, who were interviewed within minutes of the shooting by Free Radio Santa Cruz reporter Vinnie, said that Happy was doing nothing offensive or aggressive, when a police car skidded up to where he was standing next to the bus stop in front of Coast FederalBank, and two or three cops jumped out. A moment later Happy was dying on the sidewalk. A witness I interviewed named Aloni Balawejer, who viewed the whole incident from the rooftop of nearby New Leaf Market where she was taking a break from her work, said that Happy stood there with his arms at his side as the police car stood up, three cops jumped out of the car and immediately she heard three shots. After ducking herself out of fear of being hit, Alonie said she saw the cops clustered around Happy John, not giving him any emergency first-aid. Later police contended that they'd received a report of a man with a gun who had threatened skateboarders a block away with some unknown weapon. Lt. Joe Haebe said that a complaiant riding in the back seat of the police car at the time of the shooting identified Happy as the suspect. Police allege Happy had something in his hand that he was fidgeting with, refused to be still when requested, and then whipped out an unknown object--at which point Officer Carrie Conner shot him at least twice. Alonie said that Happy (confirmed as the dead man--he died soon after at Dominican Hospital of multiple gunshot wounds) had been standing about in the same area for ten minutes, made no threatening moves and was shot without any verbal interchange with the police. Witness Larry Reddeck said he was sitting across the street rolling a cigarette, saw the police car roll up and said there were shots before the cop got out of the car. Another witnesses, Tom Murphy, said police demanded the suspect "get the hell of the wall and keep moving"; he said "fuck you", and they "blasted him at 5' away". The witness said he heard him ask for spare change, then fifteen second later, the cop car pulled up, the interchange about the wall occured, and Happy was killed. Murphy said that police strip searched Happy John, without treating his wound. Happy was a homeless person, a supporter of the Santa Cruz 1996 City Hall Sleepers Protest vigil against the City's anti-homeless Sleeping Ban. He was known to be a particularly friendly and sociable person, almost frantically so. He was not known to carry weapons although a close friend said he had been known to carry a red squirt gun, easily distinguishable from a real weapon. Police claimed to have found a gun, later amended to a "toy gun" at the scene. Media reports continued to ignore most witnesses who said Happy had made no threatening moves and apparently been killed without provocation. Happy was widely regarded as a kind of beatific "holy fool" and widely held in much affection by diverse members of the Santa Cruz downtown community. Alternate media representatives Phil Freen, Vinnie the V Man, and Robert Norse were refused access to the district attorney's press conference on Thursday the 13th. The official police line that Officer Carrie justifiably killed Happy after the latter "threatened" him with a toy gun that looked real has becom the media line. The media has made no mention of alternate accounts, either on television and in the Sentinel (11/13). Last year about the same time, another homeless man died in police custody in Westside Santa Cruz of "acute cocaine excitability" after he was pepper-sprayed. The coroner's report said they had severe contusious around his head where he had allegedly beat his own head against a brick planter repeatedly, but strangely made no mention of pepper-spray.

phone zap please, repost widely to Police Abuse, Rainbow, Homeless, Justice - thanks

PHONE IN UNTIL THEY ANSWER! Santa Cruz Mayor Cynthia Matthews and City Council: 408-429-3550 Santa Cruz Police Chief Steve Belcher: 408-429-3700 District Attorney Art Danner: 408-454-2400

call the DA M-F 8am - 5pm. call and support that the officer, Connor Carrie, be charged with manslaughter.


Update (11/14 10:30 p.m.): Four new witnesses (Clinton, Stacey Buckelew and her companion, and Carlos Rodreguez) came to light at an evening memorial demonstration at the stretch of sidewalk last night where Happy John was gunned down. The loud angry demonstration received much support from passing cars. Police did not interfere. Red paint was splattered on the sidewalk where John was killed by Officer Carrie. Newspaper reports continued to echo the official police line that John was "brandishing a gun". A second demonstration today at City Hall was cut short when Sgt. McMann and Officer Northup as well as undercover Officer Pruger intervened, reportedly at the behest of Councilmember Hernandez and the City Hall gardener. Most protest signs were confiscated and one UCSC student got a $162 ticket for "leaning a sign against city property." A memorial service for John Clinton Dine (Happy John) was held at the Elm Street Mission tonight and another is planned at San Lorenzo Park tomorrow morning. Protests are planned at the District Attorney's Office at 8 a.m. Monday. To aid these protests, call Santa Cruz City Hall, the D.A.'s Office, or the Police chief's Office. More info: call 408-423-4833 (HUFF: Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom).


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