Law & the Courts

When Kamala Harris Put Ideology before Justice

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, August 6, 2020. (Alex Wong/Pool via Reuters)
The case of Officer Isaac Espinoza reveals what animates Ms. Harris — and it is not faithful adherence to the law.

You might have forgotten the first time you heard the name Kamala Harris. It was probably 16 years ago, when Harris found Democrats, along with decent people of all political persuasions, united against her.

At the time, the story of a murdered California policeman had become national news amid widespread indignation over Harris’s role in the case. Her actions revealed her true nature as a ruthless partisan committed über alles to the causes embraced by far-left ideologues — even when that commitment meant denying justice to a fallen officer and inflicting injustice on his family and law-enforcement colleagues.

On the night of April 10, 2004, San Francisco police officer Isaac Espinoza and his partner, Barry Parker, were patrolling the city’s Bayview District. Despite Bayview’s being a notoriously high-crime neighborhood filled with danger, a selfless sense of duty had led Officer Espinoza to request it as his assignment “because he felt he made the most impact as a cop there.”

As the officers drove the streets, they noticed a man in a long, dark coat who appeared to be acting in a suspicious manner, walking with only one of his arms swinging naturally, as if he were trying to conceal something. They decided they should pull over to stop and talk to him. Officer Espinoza exited the patrol car and followed the man on foot, calling out an order to halt and identifying himself as law enforcement. The man — later identified as David Hill — first sped up before eventually slowing and stopping. He turned around, lifted the AK-47 rifle he had been hiding, and opened fire, murdering Officer Espinoza, who had never even unholstered his service weapon.

Hill was a member of the West Mob, a criminal street gang that terrorized those who lived and worked within its geographic “territory” by committing rapes, homicides, assaults with firearms, narcotic sales, car thefts, burglaries, and robberies. As an expert testified at trial, “Retaliation against a [rival] gang member sends a message to other gang members, but the murder of a police officer sends a message to the community: ‘Hey, even your protectors can be touched.’”

That was Officer Espinoza: a protector of the community, a devoted husband to his wife, and a doting father to his three-year-old daughter, cut down in cold blood.

Just three days after Espinoza’s murder, before he had been laid to rest and without caring to call his widow, Harris, who was then the San Francisco district attorney, invited reporters and camera crews to a news conference to announce that she would not seek a death sentence in the case. Per the New York Times, she argued that doing so would “send the wrong message” and be “a poor use of money.” But California assemblyman Joseph Canciamilla, a fellow Democrat, explained it better: “This is clearly a case where local politics took precedence over the facts of the case and a deliberative review of the circumstances.”

Indeed, members of Harris’s own political party were admirably united against her decision. Both of California’s U.S. senators at the time, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, spoke out against it and called for the death penalty in the case.

Senator Feinstein, speaking at Officer Espinoza’s funeral, received a standing ovation after passionately arguing that “this is not only the definition of tragic, but it is one of the special circumstances called for in the death-penalty law passed by the state of California.”

Senator Boxer announced that “when a police officer is murdered, those responsible should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” and urged federal officials to bring a capital case against Hill if Harris wouldn’t.

Even San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who is now the governor of the state, was greatly disturbed by the miscarriage of justice. “I never thought something could challenge me in terms of my strong opposition to the death penalty,” he said. “But this experience has rattled my view. It really has.”

As the story spread from the West Coast to the East Coast, the sentiments felt nationwide by public officials and private citizens alike were put into words by Officer Espinoza’s mother: Her son had “made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said, yet he was being denied “the ultimate justice.” (For Hill, Officer Espinoza’s murderer, this was a cause for celebration. He has said that he’s “forever grateful” to Harris, and praised her “courage and integrity.”)

It is not unreasonable to assume that, based on Joe Biden’s age and declining mental acuity, his vice president would wield extraordinary power and might even become president. Given those possibilities, we would do well to reflect on the case of Officer Isaac Espinoza and consider what a Biden-Harris administration could portend for law and justice in the United States, as well as for the brave men and women of law enforcement who, night and day, stand guard to protect us.

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