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Family vows to picket council meeting over fatal shooting
Gabe Duenez the brother of Ernest Duenez Jr. holds up a pair of signs at the corner of Cherry Lane and Center Street directly across from the Manteca Police station. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Rosemary Duenez says her heart breaks all over again when she wakes up in the morning and remembers that her son – 34-year-old Ernest Duenez Jr. – is gone.

And she’s going to do everything within her power to make life miserable for the man that she’s holding personally responsible for his death.

On Thursday afternoon, Duenez took up a position just outside of the Manteca Police Department car park armed with flyers, massive cardboard signs and traditional pickets to raise awareness of the fatal police shooting of her son on June 8.  She’s also part of a group that will picket Tuesday’s Manteca City Council meeting.

Some of the signs called Officer John Moody, the man who fired the fatal shots, a “murderer” while others depicted him behind bars. All of them called for justice in the case, and flyers that the family had prepared to pass out called the incident a “tragic event” and a “heartless cold-blooded murder.”

“We want to let the people know that we won’t let this die down. We’re prepared to do this for as long as we have to,” Duenez said, noting that since watching the dash cam video – which is expected to be released shortly – she’s become even angrier with the situation. “My son meant the world to all of us, and not only was this murder, but it was overkill. He fired at least 13 shots, and that’s just horrendous in our eyes.”

Up the street at the corner of Cherry Lane and Center Street, Duenez’ younger brother Gabe held a pair of signs of his own – one with a large picture of Moody with the words “murderer” written across the top in bright red lettering.

It was the only thing that Gabe Duenez feels he can do to help inform the public of the injustices he believes are being perpetrated against his family by the Manteca Police Department. Getting out and letting the public know, he says, gives at least some relief – even if it’s only temporary.

“We want to let the city know that you can’t let the cops come out and murder our family,” he said. “You can’t be holding court out in the streets – which is exactly what he did in this situation. It’s our family today but it could be your family tomorrow.

“We just want justice for our brother.”

Ernest Duenez Jr. was shot in the evening hours of June 8 when it was reported to police that he was in possession of a knife and was headed back to his house. He was already, at that time, a parolee at large, and possession of a weapon was a further violation of his parole. Moody allegedly pulled up in front of the house after the vehicle that Duenez was riding in pulled onto the grass under a tree, and at some point during the ensuing exchange, Duenez was shot to death – and was to have lunged towards Moody with a weapon in his hand.

The family has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the City of Manteca, retired Police Chief Dave Bricker and Moody.

Rosemary Duenez, who says that the family will be out at that site at least once a week, already has plans to picket at the Manteca City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6, with a handful of other groups that she has befriended since the incident took place. She has spoken to anti-police-brutality groups in Stockton and Oakland – including the family of slain BART passenger Oscar Grant – and has befriended members of the Nation of Islam.

“This has lit up a fire in me that will not be extinguished,” she said. “I’ve got God guiding me, and he’s given me the power and the strength to do whatever we have to do in the name of my son.”