A Fresno police shooting death that has received more attention in the era of George Floyd is on the Fresno City Council’s agenda this week.

The 2017 shooting of 16-year old Isiah Murrietta-Golding as he ran away from police officers rankled social justice advocates then and now. With the renewed interest in police accountability, Murrietta-Golding’s case has been a focus during recent protests in Fresno.

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David Taub

Politics 101

Also in Politics 101:

  • The attorney representing dead teen’s father expects the case to go to trial.
  • Race for community college board heats up.

The council will discuss his case in closed session at its Thursday meeting.

Attorney Expects Lawsuit to Go to Trial

Murrietta-Golding and his brother were suspects in the homicide of Eugenio “Henie” Ybarra in April 2017. When police made a stop of a car that Murrietta-Golding was in, he ran into a yard of a nearby day care center. The center was closed because it was a Saturday. Video released last year appears to show Sgt. Ray Villalvazo shoot between the slats of a fence. Murrietta-Golding, who was struck in the back and later died from his injuries, did not have a firearm on him.

His parents filed a wrongful death suit against the city, Villalvazo and then-police chief (and now mayor-elect) Jerry Dyer.

“The city continues to claim that the officer feared for his life and was justified in shooting Isiah as he ran away.  Unless the City is willing to accept the obvious fact that Isiah did not pose a threat, I expect the case to go to trial as scheduled.” Attorney Stuart Chandler

The case is scheduled to return to federal court in August for a settlement conference, which is why the attorneys for Murrietta-Golding’s parents think the council is discussing it this week.

“The city continues to claim that the officer feared for his life and was justified in shooting Isiah as he ran away.  Unless the City is willing to accept the obvious fact that Isiah did not pose a threat, I expect the case to go to trial as scheduled,” said attorney Stuart Chandler, representing Murrietta-Golding’s father Anthony Golding.

Murrietta-Golding’s brother is serving time in a juvenile facility for his role in Ybarra’s death.

“On behalf of Isiah’s mother, we are looking forward to the trial of this tragic case in the Fall.  This shooting of a small, 16-year-old boy running away is as bad as any video-recorded police shooting we have seen anywhere,” said Michael Haddad, attorney for Murrietta-Golding’s mother Christina Pauline Lopez.

Even though both parents are represented by different attorneys, there is just one case. The trial is expected to start Oct. 27.

The city, through Mayor Lee Brand’s spokesman, says they don’t comment on pending litigation.

Incumbent Gets Third Challenger in Race for College Board Seat

Eric Payne (left), Sevag Tatetosian (middle) and Nasreen Johnson (right)

One of the more interesting local races in November is shaping up to be the contest for the community college trustee seat held by Eric Payne.

Payne’s conduct as a candidate and a board member has repeatedly come under scrutiny. Now, he faces a challenge not only from the more conservative Sevag Tatetosian, but also progressive Nasreen Johnson, who has now filed to run.

“A strong community college system is vital to our student’s ability to gain skills needed to support our local economy,” Johnson said via text message. “As a first-generation college student who attended Fresno City College before earning my Business Management degree and Master’s degree in Business Administration, I know the important path community colleges provide for students to reach their goals. I’m excited to bring my experience to this role and represent the voters in our community.”

Johnson is a communications executive with the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission and has run for office twice in the last two years. She finished second in 2018 against Terry Slatic for a seat on the Fresno Unified school board. In 2019, she lost a special election for Fresno County supervisor to Steve Brandau.

[Correction, 7/14/2020: in the original version of this story, it said Johnson lost to Brandau in 2020. It was 2019.]

Opponents Respond to New Entrant

Tatetosian, who works as an analyst with the Fresno Count Department of Public Health, questioned Johnson’s motivation for seeking the seat.

“The demands of State Center are serious, especially in the midst of COVID-19. They’re different than Fresno Unified’s school board or the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. I’m committed to serving the community and students of State Center, not shop for another political office,” Tateosian said by text.

Meanwhile, Payne, executive director of the Central Valley Urban Institute, says he has earned a third term.

“My focus has and continues to be our students success, to ensure they have all the resources they need to make it through this horrible pandemic,” Payne said, also via text message. “I’m fully committed to the development and completion of our Multi-Million dollar Campus in West Fresno and our bond Implementation.

“I wish all of my opponents nothing but the best and civility, ” Payne said. “But they are not my focus right now. I’m honored to serve the students and families of Trustee Area 2 because we have accomplished a lot together and I look forward to our continued journey of lifting each other up in a time of crisis, we’re in this together.”

This will be the first election for Payne since the state’s agency for campaign finance fined him more than $50,000 for several improprieties.

The Area 2 seat covers parts of north Fresno, as well as the western part of the city, and a large expanse of western Fresno County, including the entire city of Kerman.

5 Responses

  1. William

    Stuart Chandler is a nice enough guy but is merely learning from his lawyer friends like Mark Geragos how to sue city municipality over wrongful death. I assure you Isiah case is an opportunity for a settlement especially in the wake of police being under the microscope.
    Does anyone want to mention Isiah being involved the day before in the shooting of a 17 year old and was being detained and questioned for that crime. He was also considered armed and dangerous and later a 3rd party inestigation found the shooting to be justified. I doubt if there is any racism involved that is grasping as the cop was hispanic.
    Alas there will be a payout settlement and paperwork signed . Its rather doubtful Chandler would have allowed someone like Isiah near his own son. Its all about the settlement money not justice. Where is the justice for the 17 year old shot the day before by Isiah and brother. Money grab opportunists like Chandler don’t care about public safety or justice .

  2. N. Williams

    I find it hard to believe that just because the officer in question had the same ethnicity as the boy shot that racial undertones did not exist. There is a systematic institutional approach to those that are at the hands of law enforcement. The views of law enforcement towards those they are posed to protect and serve are rooted in some of the worst of racial and social economical tenets. Clearly the boy was not on the spectrum of who we may want our children to aspire to, however, that does not negate his right to live and be seen in front of a judge or jury for his crimes. Law enforcement is not judge, jury and executioner.

    • william

      Williams you are making comments not argumentation grasping with straw man arguments. Ask Chandler why he sent his kid to a private school ” to be away from bad influences like Isiah” .
      You can’t prove yourself right and anyone wrong.
      Let’s see accountability here people need to be better parents instilling responsibility and consequences of behaviors instead of blaming everything on racism or the system. Isiah shot a 17 year old the day before who was Mexican was that racism or just the actions of a kid brought up by parents and influences who always blame others for their behaviors. Isiah is a victim of bad parenting where its always the other guys fault that I broke the law. Prison and death row is full of white men with the same attitude. In fact more whites on death row, most never assume responsibility its always this or that tgat made me commit murder.
      No worries. Chandler will get your pay day settlement at this point its negotiating an amount. Its about economics and wasting valuable city taxpayers money on an expensive trial that will never make it past summary judgment. Chandler knows it won’t go to trial he us not a trial attorney.
      Chandler will get his part of the settlement then head back to his upper scale neighborhood free of hoodlums that prey on his family the isiahs of the world. Once the family gets their settlement blood money maybe they will share it with the family of the kid their precious Isiah gunned down
      There are no winners here but plenty of losers.
      Arias will try to cut a larger deal be gouging the city to appearing some sort of hero to his homies. Arias and Soria already commented publicly about this case on their City of Fresno letterhead and made it known what their beliefs were.

      • N. Williams

        Clearly I am no attorney and this public forum is no court room. My comments come from a long engagement with law enforcement from behind the blue line. However dear sir, I do have a love for facts and your statements about “more whites on death row” is not in line with any facts that the California Department of Corrections have published.

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