A march Tuesday on the Manteca City Council chambers by family members and friends of the late Ernesto Duenez Jr. was an attempt to get answers.
The group chanted “Justice for Ernesto” during their three-block walk along Union Road and Center Street.
A few cars honked their support during their trek down the roadway.
Duenez was fatally shot by a Manteca Police officer in what has been described as a traffic stop in the 200 block of Flores Street at about 6:45 on the evening of June 8. A patrol officer claimed that the man was getting out of his pickup truck with a weapon in hand and beginning to rush at him.
There were some 70 marchers who first gathered and organized in the Rite Aid parking lot beginning an hour before the 7 p.m. council meeting. They handed out placards at the Union Road and Yosemite Avenue center and unfolded a large banner they would display for the march to city hall on Center Street.
As they marched on the side of Center Street and up to the city offices they chanted in unison: “No justice, no peace!” over and over again.
The placards they carried displayed photographs of Ernesto with his family members that read, “Justice for Our Cousin – Justice for Our Brother – Justice for Our Friend.” The 12-foot-wide banner read simply, “For Truth and Justice” in both English and Spanish. Others carried smaller sheets of paper with one word, “Why.”
The Duenez family said they had yet to receive answers to important questions they had on the shooting and were being joined in the city council chambers by additional members of the community as well as organizations from the Bay Area, Sacramento and elsewhere in the Central Valley.
Their main plea to the council:
“We are requesting that the Manteca City Council and the Manteca Police Department turn over the case to the federal authorities as we want a completely independent review of the incident which we believe unlawfully, unjustly and illegally took the life of Ernest Duenez Jr.”
When the marchers walked up to the council chambers doorway, they were greeted by members of the Manteca Fire Department on hand for crowd control. The seating limit in the chambers was posted at 83. With other citizens on hand for additional agenda items, the capacity set by the fire department was at its limit which was allowed to be exceeded.
The crowd kept their composure and acted courteously with city staff members.
The police department contends officers were on the lookout for Duenez who they said was listed as a parolee-at-large when he was stopped and considered armed and dangerous.