Filed under: Analysis, Police, Southwest, White Supremacy
Report on the continued campaign in Modesto, CA following the police killing of Trevor Seever.
On Thursday, March 18th, Modesto police officer Joseph Lamantia was fired from his position and is now currently facing criminal charges of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Trevor Seever on December 29th, 2020. Since joining the Modesto Police Department back in 2008, Lamantia has also been involved in five other incidents that have resulted in four deaths, all of which have been cleared. In the case of Trevor Seever, Lamantia responded to a call for a wellness check from Seever’s family, only to find Seever behind a church and opened fire on him within seconds of exiting his vehicle; Seever was unarmed and died while being transported to a hospital.
After the killing, Modesto policed rushed to construct a narrative of Trevor as a dangerous individual, citing anti-police sentiments posted to his personal Instagram page. According to the Modesto Police, these postings led them to issue a bulletin to the wider department in an attempt to construct their argument that this supposed danger made Lamantia afraid for his life during his encounter with Seever.
#Modesto police officer Joseph Lamantia shot + killed Trevor Seever, an unarmed man outside of a church during a wellness check. In video, Lamantia seen existing car + opening fire. Seever moans, "I'm dying," to which the police respond, "Sorry bro." https://t.co/Xfrtva87X4
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) January 7, 2021
As previous reports on It’s Going Down have stated, this heavy surveillance of Seever’s social media brings up concerns, and also begs the question why police have worked so closely in recent months with far-Right groups, which in numerous instances have posted threats of violence against counter-protesters, yet have not received the same attention from law enforcement.
Copy of a flyer handed out at disruption of ‘Coffee With a Cop’
Protests against the police killing of Trevor Seever has remained ongoing, with family and friends of Treevor Seever and their supporters holding continuous demonstrations outside of the police department, in various working-class neighborhoods, and in highly trafficked areas of Modesto. The Seever family has been joined on the streets by numerous Black Lives Matter groups and other families in the region who have also lost their children and family members to police murder. This includes the families of James Rivera, Jr and Colby Friday of Stockton, CA and the family of Alonso Nunez, who was recently savagely beaten by the Modesto police in an incident that went viral on social media.
#Modesto hit the streets after a police officer who's killed numerous people shot to death an unarmed man who's family called for a wellness check. After his death, #Modesto police justified his killing because of anti-cop posts on Instagram. An analysis. https://t.co/a6w7ussJBs
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) January 23, 2021
The day before the announcement, people also held a protest and disrupted a Modesto Police “Coffee with Cops” event, meant to rehabilitate their image in the eyes of the public. People chanted, held banners, and passed out flyers while police attempted to hold their composure amidst screams of, “Say his name! Trevor Seever!”
The firing of Lamantia in many ways is shocking: he is one of only a small number of police officers in the history of the institution to be fired and have charges brought against him for taking a life while on duty. Several factors led to this reality: the first and most obvious is that of the massive uprising against the police and white supremacy that exploded across the country in the summer of 2020 following the police murder of George Floyd. The second is the sustained protest and community mobilization made possibly by the Seever family and their supporters; such action kept the story in the local and national news and kept the issue in front of the City Council and police. Lastly, there’s the video itself which is so damning; a video that was even picked up by the New York Times and seen by millions.
Alonso Nunez was beaten by Modesto PD on 2/10/21. The same department that just killed Trevor Seever. Alonso suffered from a black eye, broken nose, + missing teeth. His family was not told where he was. This money will go be for medical, bail and hardship https://t.co/lmQcLEffIY pic.twitter.com/BoVbBxbo0R
— Turlock BLM Movement ✊🏾 (@TurlockBLM) February 16, 2021
Despite this win, most of Lamantia’s victims won’t receive even a taste of this “justice.” We must also ask if Trevor had not been white, if there hadn’t been a video, or if he would have had a record – would Lamantia still be on the force? The answer is quite possibly yes. One thing we do know is that sustained mobilization, organizing, and street action against the backdrop of a national rebellion in this situation helped win the day, in the face of a police department which was clearly willing to back an officer for yet another horrific murder.