On the evening of April 10, 2004 the San Francisco Police Department, one of the oldest municipal police agencies in the State, lost yet another of their fine young officers in The Line of Duty, and California recorded its’ third such loss in the New Year.
Officer Isaac Espinoza, 29-years-old, an eight-year veteran of the police department was on routine patrol in the troubled Bayview District with his partner, 38-year-old Officer Barry Parker. The officer’s stopped their vehicle and called out to a man acting suspiciously who was walking away from the police vehicle. Without warning, the man turned and began firing at the officers with an automatic weapon, later determined to be an AK-47, assault rifle. Both officers were wounded by gunfire and were transported to San Francisco General Hospital where Officer Espinoza succumbed to his wounds and Officer Parker was treated for a wound to his ankle.
The suspect in the shooting, later identified as David Hill, a 21-year-old gang member was arrested at the San Ramon Regional Medical Center, where he had gone to seek treatment for his “mental illness”.
Hill was being charged with murder and attempted murder of a peace officer, a crime that could and should call for the death penalty. Unbelievably, however, Kamala Harris, San Francisco’s newly elected District Attorney called a press conference and declared that in keeping with a campaign promise to not seek the death penalty in any capital murder case, she would not be seeking the death penalty in the case of Police Officer Isaac Espinoza. Strong opposition and outcry to District Attorney Harris’ decision in this matter was being voiced by law enforcement statewide. One veteran police spokesman observed “if we can’t offer some degree of protection to the most visible symbol of a civilized society, a policeman, the rest of you don’t have a chance!”
Isaac Espinoza was a native San Franciscan, raised in Daly City, where he graduated from high school, and later attended Skyline Community College, before joining the San Francisco Police Department at age twenty-one.
Newly elected San Francisco Mayor Gavin Nesom appropriately mourned the murder of Officer Espinoza. Flags were ordered to half-staff at City all and in a press conference at the Hall of Justice the Mayor vowed to end the violence in the Bayview area of the City and pledged that “Officer Isaac Espinoza was by any objective standard a hero, and I assure you, his life will not be in vain”.
Heather Fong, newly appointed Police Chief praised Officer Isaac Espinoza as “an officer who exemplified what it means to be a San Francisco police officer”.
On Friday morning, April 16, several thousand mourners filled St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown San Francisco to over-flowing, stopping vehicular traffic in every direction. In addition to City and County officials, family members and friends, virtually every law enforcement agency in the State was represented, all coming together to pay their respects to a great young police officer taken too soon. The State’s “Top Cop”, Attorney General Bill Lockyer was once again in attendance offering condolences on behalf of the people of our Great State. As a final tribute, a miles long caravan of police vehicles escorted the remains of Officer Isaac Espinoza from St. Mary’s Cathedral to h is final resting place, Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
Officer Espinoza is survived by his wife Renata and 3-year-old daughter Isabella.
A trust fund has been established in the name of the “Espinoza Family”, C/0 San Francisco Police Credit Union, 2550 Irving Street, San Francisco, CA 94122, Account No. 1360436S5.