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Wash. mayor to cop in fatal shooting: 'You are a disgrace'

The mayor’s Facebook post resurfaced on Thursday after an administrative review found the shooting justified

Phil Ferolito
Yakima Herald-Republic

WAPATO, Wash. — Mayor Tony Guzman still stands by strong comments he made on social media against police officer Michael Campos, who shot and killed a Wapato man during a domestic call this past summer.

Guzman used explicit language in a Facebook post accusing Campos of murder just three days after the July 31 shooting of Mario Martinez.

The Facebook comment Mayor Tony Guzman made on social media against police officer Michael Campos. (Photo/Facebook)
The Facebook comment Mayor Tony Guzman made on social media against police officer Michael Campos. (Photo/Facebook)

“It was said in the heat of the moment,” Guzman said Thursday from Mexico. “I’ve known the family for a long time. I knew Mario since he was a baby.”

Campos and Sgt. Larry Ehrhardt were responding to a domestic call that day at Martinez’s home when the incident escalated, authorities have said.

Referring to Campos, Guzman in his Facebook post said: “It’s people like you that give Latinos a bad name” and “if you have an ounce of dignity, never show your face in Wapato.”

Guzman’s post resurfaced on Thursday, when the Yakima Herald-Republic received an administrative review that found the shooting justified and that Campos and Ehrhardt didn’t use excessive force.

“Do I regret posting it? No,” Guzman said. “Should I have worded it different? Yes.”

Investigations by the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic have cleared both officers of any wrongdoing and found the shooting justified.

Now, Wapato interim police Chief Dave Simmons is prepared to return Campos to his job, and Guzman isn’t happy about it.

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“Let me put it this way, I spoke to Simmons last week. He told me he was bringing Campos back and I said I think that’s a big mistake,” Guzman said. “If he does, he’ll have to deal with it. And if the family shows up at my office, I will walk them across the street (to Simmons’ office) and he can deal with it.”

Simmons on Thursday said he plans to return Campos to work, but couldn’t say exactly when.

“I understand that the community is hurting and the family is hurting, and I feel for the community and the family that suffered the loss,” Simmons said. “On the other side of it is Officer Campos was cleared. We have the responsibility to protect an employee and safeguard his rights.”

Campos’ attorney, Ulvar Klein of Yakima, said Guzman is being unreasonable.

“Joe Brusic has reviewed everything very clearly; (Campos) has been cleared and should be able to go back to work,” Klein said. “Everyone wants to look over Joe’s shoulder and it doesn’t make sense.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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