Letters

From the week of August 16, 2001

Under the Gun

Cheap shot: A police officer has the right under some circumstances to kill ("A Life That Almost Happened," Amanda Scioscia, July 26). With this awesome power comes great responsibility. This does not mean that each and every time a police officer shoots someone that he was correct in doing so.

The prior two letters ("Give cops a break," "Wrong place, wrong time," August 9) display a troubling need to manufacture facts to excuse the police. Some people want (no, more accurately, need) to believe that the police never make mistakes. The previous letters demonstrate the willingness of people to make up facts when they uncomfortably interfere with the fictions that they constructed. The previous authors have done so in an effort to excuse an officer who, wrongly or rightly, killed an innocent bystander.

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The first letter states that Alfonso Celaya was "pointing" the gun at someone. The vast majority of the witnesses stated that he was pointing the gun down at the ground and not at anyone.

The second letter makes a string of incorrect assumptions. The assumptions, labeled "facts," within the letter are:

1. He never should have been there. (The author implies that since he was underage he shouldn't have been where he was shot. The letter also seems to imply that he was drunk. The autopsy showed that Alfonso Celaya's blood alcohol was .00 and he was on a public street when he was shot.)

2. He never should have touched the gun. (At the time that Alfonso touched the gun, there were two people fighting over the gun, one of whom had shot it two times in an attempt to kill the other. If Alfonso had not grabbed the gun, he and others might have been shot.)

3. He should have lain down on the ground as the police approached. (Almost to a person, all who were there agree that there was no verbal warning when the police arrived. Alfonso was shot from the side. He never saw or heard the police who shot him. If the officer had given a warning, Alfonso should have dropped to the ground. No warning, no reason. Without ESP, why should he have dropped to the ground?)

If you don't know the "facts," please don't make them up to fit your view of the world. There are great police officers; there are bad police officers. Sometimes even the good ones make mistakes and, when they do, they and their employers should be held accountable like everyone else.

Joel B. Robbins
via Internet

Support your local cops: Amanda Scioscia, you have just attempted to glorify the life of a young man who did not have the sense to stay away from bars until he was old enough to frequent them or with the good sense to make better choices when choosing his friends.

You have just announced to the entire community the working schedule of the officer involved, who was doing his job to protect your community as well as his own life. You have failed to care about how this has affected all of the families involved with this unfortunate incident. Furthermore, you have neglected to inform the readers that Sergeant Spalla and the other off-duty police officers were hired by the owners to protect the patrons of the bar because of incidents like this one. They were not hired to stand outside, on their off-duty time, to look the other way when the safety of others and themselves was at risk.

Sergeant Spalla, Officer Mayer, Officer Escoto and Officer Wubker did not "quickly become Phoenix police officers, with weapons drawn, approaching a potentially deadly scene." They were, in fact, Phoenix police officers from the moment they arrived at their position at the bar, regardless of the fact that they were working "off duty."

Next time get your facts in order. You may have seen another side to this nightmare that affects not only the victim's family, but the police officers' families as well, each time they are chastised for taking the life of another human being who is clearly a threat to the police officer and to others.

Did you ever once consider the fact that Sergeant Spalla's life was also in danger and that he, too, has a family that loves him and worries about him every day that he goes to work, protecting us from this very sort of "good boy"? That we, too, dread the 1 a.m. telephone call that might tell us that he will not be coming home because he was killed in the line of duty?

This article is nothing but a one-sided rendition of a young man who claimed to have aspirations of a law enforcement career, but who did not have the good sense to go to a movie on Saturday night instead of frequenting a bar he had no business being at in the first place, with friends who choose to carry guns. Shame on you, Amanda.

Name withheld by request

Shelter Skelter

Barking lot: I do not blame Ken White for objecting to a grant for a no-kill animal shelter ("Pet Peeves," Maria Luisa Tucker, August 9). Will this be available to everyone? Who will be the fiscal agent for all this money? How will it be distributed? There are many more questions, and why wait until the money is spent before those questions are asked? I think there are more restrictions than we want. I have asked for something in writing about the fund and have not received anything to date. I would need more information on this.

Lynn Dunn

via Internet

Dogged Pursuit

Haight mail: I just finished the story titled "Legal Beagles" (James Hibberd, August 2). I am the person who first brought Dr. Haight's attention to the Berens research and have helped her over the last two years.

By not referring to "Dr. Haight" with her title you slighted and diminished her credibility and credentials as a trained research scientist. You biased the reader's perspective and were not accurate with your facts. Dr. Haight has documented and obtained material in a fashion that would make any investigative reporter proud and has the respect of many members of this community. Michael Berens, on the other hand, had a research project that Congressman John Shadegg asked for a moratorium on and a full review of because of the concerns regarding the project. ASU terminated the project, an almost unheard-of action, because of the serious animal welfare and research issues, and you referred to Berens as "a respected scientist struggling to create an animal model of a brain tumor" while calling "Dr. Haight" by her given name. Berens' struggle was self-generated because he refused to give up doing the same thing over and over with his patented procedure in favor of ASU recommendations, based on other successful researchers' efforts, that might have worked.

It is not okay and it violates scientific integrity to selectively report results and to misrepresent information in order to throw your work in the best light to get money from the federal government. Nobody is judging Dr. Berens because his research failed. Research fails. It is the misrepresentation of facts to get the money that is the problem. I say right on In Defense of Animals and Dr. Haight who, if the suit is won, will take part of the settlement to build a memorial with the name of each beagle puppy and dog that died in the canine glioma project.

Shaynie Aero
Phoenix

Straight Dope

Gay abandon: In David Ehrenstein's review of Big Eden ("Northern Composure," August 2), he makes the comment: "For any gay man who has ever been strung along by a straight buddy whose emotional demands were greater than his ability to translate into action, this rings frighteningly true."

By his review (and maybe he did not clearly portray the movie), he states that the straight friend "by no means was gay," but it was just a friendship, although the straight friend did count on his friend for emotional support. Two straight guys often rely on each other for emotional support without worrying about "stringing each other on." Why should it be any different if one of the guys is gay? The gay community screams that it wants to be treated the same, but if by befriending a gay man I need to worry that I might be stringing him along if I treat him the same as I do a straight friend, I cannot treat the two the same. It is not the straight guy's fault if the other guy has unrealistic (in most cases) wishes that his friend might change his sexual preference. Unfortunately, ignorant comments like the one in the review will make a lot of guys less likely to befriend a gay man.

Name withheld by request

Attention, Shoppers

The comida store: I saw your excellent article on Southwest Supermarkets and the carnicerias ("Meet Market," Edward Lebow, August 2). Having shopped in the Hispanic markets for many years, I would say the concerns over Southwest by the neighborhood leaders are understandable (I had my own when I heard it was moving into the Seventh Street ABCO), yet on the whole Southwest has improved its stores. Yesterday I was in the store at 32nd Street and McDowell, and the produce section was much improved. The tomatoes and fruit were fresh, yet ripe. I think it is worth giving them a chance. I have not yet tried the 16th Street and Buckeye store and did not know it had an in-store tortilleria. I will try it, though; one of the reasons our family goes to Food City two to three times a week is the excellent tortillas they make. They have no preservatives so they don't keep for a long time like the commercial products (which taste like cardboard), but we often score tortillas fresh off the press.

The carnicerias are another thing. The many that are clean offer a unique service not available elsewhere, even at Southwest or Food City. Once I witnessed a butcher at an upscale Safeway at 32nd Street and Camelback abruptly tell a customer that the meat could not possibly be cut as thin as she wanted. The Mexican butchers at the carnicerias do this easily by hand every day!

Kitty Lopez
Phoenix

Supermarket sweep: I have been to several Southwest markets, and some that I've been to have been dirty, smelled like rotting fish, while others have been clean. I have indeed purchased food products that were out of date in the stores that were dirty. I am an Anglo, but have no problems with buying Hispanic products/food. I have also been in some Anglo-run establishments that were far worse than any Southwest market.

Kevin Belanger
Glendale

Bag it: I just wanted to let you know that I was very disappointed when ABCO went out of business and sold out to Southwest Supermarkets. They can call it SW Desert Market all they want! It is still a Southwest to me. I can say this because, yes, I have given them a try twice. I have been lucky enough to buy French bread that appeared to be fresh until I got home and cut it open. It was hard and stale. I also have purchased liver cheese lunch meat from them. I didn't notice until I was home that it was a lovely shade of green on some of the pieces. I took it back and had to go through at least 10 packages to find one to replace the nasty one. I told the cashier that the store needed to check its stock. Needless to say, I will drive the extra miles to go to Fry's. I will be happy to see Southwest go, the sooner the better! One last comment: It doesn't matter the culture or race that the store is catering to. What matters is the qualityof the foods that are purchased.

Mary Curfman
via Internet

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