So yeah... it's been three years today since Zachary Champommier was killed by undercover DEA agents, who wore not one stitch of flaw (typo, it stays) enforcement identification anywhere, while he drove through a public parking lot, at 9:30 at night, behind a crowded shopping center with restaurants, a bank and a grocery store on a Thursday night in June in Studio City, California.
Zac had just graduated from Granada Hills Charter High School, with honors I might add, two weeks before he was killed. He was a beloved member in his community of Porter Ranch, California. He was the son of a single mother, a school teacher at an elementary school and her only child. He played in the band at Nobel Middle School and then for the Highlanders Marching Band at GHCHS and he also indulged his love of classic music by playing viola in the school's orchestra. I cannot begin to tell how horribly this effected so many people here... especially his young friends from high school, not to mention the many adults (even back to his kindergarten teacher) all who loved him to the end of his life. He was the kid we all wanted our own children to be like. He was that special. He really was.
Let me tell you what I know thus far:
Zac was in that parking lot looking to meet up with a friend he had met online. Crime? No. It's the twenty-first century, this his how people meet nowadays. Have I ever met up with anyone I've only ever communicated with online? Absolutely. Quite often. With local writers, artists, politicians, local community leaders... I could go on and on.
While driving at a slow speed (accident reconstruction experts for both sides of the lawsuit agreed... Zac was going no more than 6-10ish miles an hour through the parking lot) looking for his new friend, there was an altercation on the other side of the parking lot.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Zac, a multi-jurisdictional task force made up of LAPD, LA Sheriff's and the DEA were concluding an undercover bust and decided to "debrief" in a public parking lot swarming with pedestrians. They were in unmarked cars, in plain clothes and did not tape off the area to alert the public they were there. They had in their possession confiscated weapons, money and I'm not sure if there were drugs there or not.
These law enforcement officers in all their hyped up state after serving warrants and doing their thing, decided to roust a guy walking through the public parking lot because they thought he looked "suspicious." Fair enough, I guess.
One officer who weighed in at 240 lbs. was running (lumbering, is more like it) through the parking lot towards this "suspicious" guy when he ran right into Zac's car as Zac was inching closer to whatever it was that was going on.
The officer tried to do a Starsky and Hutch move over the car, but apparently, he fell down. Another DEA officer on the other side looked over at just that moment, saw Zac in his car there and the overweight officer on the ground and assumed Zac hit him with his car.
Accident experts agreed... Zac stopped his car right after that, and the trajectory of the bullets pulled from his body (he was shot a total of six times. Six times.) showed that he stopped and turned his body back to see what the hell had just happened and that is when the DEA agent (standing to the side of Zac, not in front of him where he was in danger of getting ran over) pointed his gun at Zac and shot him in cold blood. Just. Like. That. Boom.
These law enforcement officers then came up with a brilliant cover: "Let's say Zac was a 'drug suspect' and he came barreling towards us in his car! Yeah, that's the ticket!"
But those of us who knew Zac knew that this was a load of malarkey.
The evidence, and you can read the fabulous trial summaries in blog posts below, showed us a different reality.
Reality No.1: There were no marks, dents, palm prints or anything else from that 240 lb officer ANYWHERE on the hood of Zac's car that supposedly struck the officer and sent him flying into the air and landing on Zac's hood.
Seriously. Not one freaking baby dent or any kind of hand print.
Reality No. 2: And how seriously hurt was this officer who went flying into the air after being struck by a car going maybe 6 mph in the parking lot?
Not a scratch on him.
Maybe a scratch from him hitting the ground after he tripped. But not from being struck "by a speeding vehicle."
Reality No. 3: Where was the justification of lethal force here? There wasn't. There isn't. There will never be.
Please... read the trial summaries for the full picture of how awful these law enforcement officers acted.
We are hoping for a judgement from the Honorable Judge Michael Fitzgerald soon. We'll keep you posted. Keep a good thought for us... and for Zac. He didn't deserve to die that way. None of us do.
We miss you, Zac.