1975.04.01: Killer Cop (Red Tide)

Killer Cop

Red Tide #17
April 1975

Killer Cop
[By Michael Letwin]

The killing of a young Chicano here 1½ years ago was acquitted early last month of all charges. In December of 1973, a Chicano youth named Martin Aguyao was killed at Belmont High School by a “security guard” who shot him through the head.

Aguyao was unarmed, but had been told to leave the school by the guard who then claimed that his gun “accidentally discharged.” Early last month, the guard, William Garcia, who still works for the L.A. School District, was acquitted in a trial for the murder. He had been prosecuted under a federal civil rights law. The federal prosecution took place after the L.A. County District Attorney had refused to prosecute the case.


Aguyao had attended Belmont High a couple of years before his death, and still had a brother there. On Dec. 11, 1973, the day he was killed, Aguyao came across the security guard, Garcia, who tried to arrest him on the misdemeanor charge of loitering on school grounds. Supposedly, Garcia’s gun accidentally fired in a scuffle that began while the two men were on their way to the principal’s office. The security guard claims that he had previously warned Aguyao to stay away from the school. Garcia later claimed that Aguyao had said that he had a gun and that the youth was going to kill him.


There are a couple obvious questions about Garcia’s story that were raised at the time of the killing. The first is how the gun went off[,] when security guards carry their weapons in shoulder or hip holsters under their jackets? The second is that even assuming that the gun in this position could have gone off, how could it have hit Aguyao directly in the forehead? In answer to all this, Garcia now claims that because of Aguyao’s threat to him, he had pulled a gun.


When the incident originally happened in 1973, Frank Gonzales of the L.A. School District’s Security Guard Unit said that security guards do not have the right to arrest anyone without the express permission of the principal. He also gave a conflicting story on the shooting itself, saying that it had taken place in the guard’s office, and not in the school halls, where previously reported.


The day of the killing, 200 students at Belmont High walked out. On the 17th of December 1973, Ernest Naumann, the school principal[,] was asked about the shooting by some parents and students at a Community Advisory Council meeting. When Naumann finally responded[,] he admitted that he did not keep in touch with the procedures or actions of the security guards on campus, that in fact he did not regard it as his business.


Some people will wonder why we even write and print this story. The number of times that black and [L]atin youth have been killed by cops or security guards at schools is uncountable, always of course “by mistake.”

Even on the extremely rare occasion that a cop has been found guilty, the worst that usually happens to them is a suspension or expulsion from the force. This is true because of the fact that part of a cop’s job is to kill people — especially when they are non-white or workers — to maintain what this society calls “order.”

The only thing that cops in the schools accomplish is more incidents like this, more dead young people. [In] Los Angeles, the police motto reads, “To protect and serve.” This is obviously true. The question is: to protect and serve whom?

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]


One response to “1975.04.01: Killer Cop (Red Tide)

  1. Thank you for writing this piece. Martin was my uncle whom I never met. I think about him quite often.


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