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A gray-haired woman sits with her back to the camera, looking at a computer screen on a desk. Above the screen is a profile picture of a clean-shaven young man with short dark hair on a blanket. Hanging to her right iss a cork board fled with photo, mostly of a boy growing up.

Still pushing for prosecution, Pedie Perez family helps train Richmond officers to avoid using force

on December 1, 2023

Rick Perez wanted Richmond’s new police officers to see his son’s face and remember it when they go into the field. So he brought a photo of Richard, called Pedie by family and friends, and held it up as he faced Officers Ruben Ramirez, Mikail Meadors and Robert Carlos on the other side of a conference table at the Richmond Police Department last week.

“My son was 24 at the time. You guys are probably real close to that age.”

“Yes sir,” the officers said politely, sitting up straighter. 

“You guys know what it’s like to be 24 right now. And he wasn’t a bad kid.” 

Perez only talked for about 15 minutes but what he said spoke volumes. The Richmond Police Department invited him to its new cultural sensitivity training intended to help officers better handle situations like the one that ended with Pedie Perez being shot multiple times and killed by a Richmond police officer in 2014. 

The officer could have handled the situation differently, waited for backup Perez told Ramirez, Meadors and Carlos. “But he chose to take matters into his own hands.

Three police officers in uniform sit at a conference table side by side, listening to a speaker.
From left: Officers Ruben Ramirez, Mikail Meadors and Robert Carlos listen to Rick Perez. (Taylor Barton)

Perez is hoping the training makes a difference. “Nothing’s going to bring my son back,” he told Richmond Confidential. “But I definitely don’t want anyone to have to be put in this position.”

Richmond is trying to avoid that, too. In September, Police Chief Bisa French announced that the department would be adding cultural sensitivity training, saying “People should know about Pedie, they should know the story.” 

The City Council honored Pedie Perez that month, declaring Sept. 14, the anniversary of his death, a day of remembrance for him. 

Councilmember Soheila Bana attended the Nov. 15 training session, sitting beside Rick Perez. Along with that session, the training also includes a video about Pedie’s killing. 

“The event here is a small event for three police officers,” Bana said, “but it’s a huge leap for our community, and making a national model for police officers to serve the community. So when you talk about police the word brutality does not come to mind anymore.”

‘Pedie’s life matters’

Written on the front window of the El Cerrito home where Pat Perez, Pedie’s 83-year-old grandmother, lives with her husband, Richard, are the words “Pedie’s life matters.” Inside, the home is filled with mementos of Pedie: T-shirts and blankets printed with his photo, heart-shaped woodwork inscribed with “justice 4 Pedie.”

“He was our only grandson,” Pat Perez said, sharing family photos and years of news clippings. “He was everything.”

Pedie loved to take road trips with his grandparents as a kid. Their travels took them to the Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore and the statue of Chief Crazy Horse. 

“He used to hang out with us a lot.” Pat Perez said, smiling and wistful. “He was fun. He was lots of fun.”

On small wooden porch of a home with off-white siding stands a gray-haired woman on the left in a black T-shirt with the words "No weak coffee" and black pants and black books. On the right is a bald man with a full gray mustache, hands in his jeans pockets, powder blue hoodie. In the far right is a window with the words "Pedie's Life matters" in construction paper.
Pat Perez and Richard Perez on their porch in El Cerrito. (Taylor Barton)

Richard and Pat Perez described Pedie as an unwaveringly generous adult. They beam when recounting how he once gave away brand new Nikes off his feet to a friend of a friend who had no parental support and needed shoes badly. He also gave rent money to a struggling neighbor. And storage space for an evicted friend.  

There’s a small, gut-punch moment when the family leaves their memories and returns to the present, to their loss. They want to see Wallace Jensen, the officer who shot Pedie, charged and prosecuted. 

“It sounds garish,” Pat Perez said, “but I’m just not going to be quiet about what happened.”

Mark Petersen, Contra Costa County district attorney at the time of Pedie’s death, decided not to file charges, stating in a report requested by City Council that the officer acted in self defense when he shot Pedie outside a liquor store on Cutting Boulevard.

District Attorney Diana Becton, who was elected four years after Pedie’s death and inherited Petersen’s decision, had the case reevaluated in 2019 based on concerns raised by the family. In October, she responded to Richmond Confidential’s request for comment with a statement reiterating the reasons she gave the family in 2019 for upholding Petersen’s decision.

“Prosecutors can only file cases where they believe in good faith the evidence will prove beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors that a crime has been committed,” she said.

The family wants her to reconsider.

“I’ve talked to the DA several times about it,” Rick Perez said. “On a personal basis, she’s a very nice woman, but on a professional basis, I don’t agree with her decision.”

A gray-haired woman looks at the camera while sitting at a table, where a photo album is open. On the table iss a reading lamp with the words "What about Pedie?" on the shade.
Pat Perez goes over photos and news clippings about her grandson. (Taylor Barton)

They have re-upped the request on social media and in annual memorials, but have struggled to keep up the momentum since Julie, Pedie’s mother, became ill in March. 

The Perez family is not alone in their fight. Community organizations like the Oscar Grant Committee have helped them connect with witnesses to uncover video footage of his death. 

“We have not forgotten Wallace Jensen,” said OGC member Gerald Smith in a phone interview. 

Smith said Becton’s reelection in 2022 had renewed their hopes for charges to be brought, since there is no statute of limitation on murder. 

“Maybe she has a little more confidence in herself now that the public feels she’s doing a good job,” he said. 

According to the report from Richmond’s Community Police Review Commission in 2018, Jensen shot Pedie after responding to a nuisance call at Uncle Sam’s Liquor Store on Cutting Boulevard, steps away from Perez Bros Paper Recycling — the family business where Pedie worked. 

Pedie was intoxicated and the shopkeeper told Jensen he was attempting to buy alcohol on store credit or shoplift it, according to the review. It states that Jensen confronted Perez outside the store on a sidewalk. While Jensen maintained that Pedie was tugging at this gun, the review found that Jensen “initiated physical violence directed at Mr. Perez despite Perez posing no threat to Jensen or anyone else at the scene.”

Smith interviewed witnesses who said that when Pedie was told he was being detained, not arrested, he began walking home, and that Jensen tackled him. 

“He never even got the chance to get up,” Rick Perez said in an October interview. 

The Community Police Review Commission agreed, ruling that Jensen violated the department’s use of force policy. The Perez family settled an $850,000 lawsuit against Jensen in 2016.

Richmond Confidential could not reach Jensen for comment.

A woman with her black and gray hair pulled into a bun, pearls around her neck, a black sweater, sits at a conference table next to a man in a plaid shirt, glasses, gray hair and beard, holding a photo of a young man in a white T-shirt.
Councilmember Soheila Bana sits beside Rick Perez, who holds a picture of Pedie before officers in training. (Taylor Barton)

Pedie was killed two weeks before his 25th birthday. The last time his parents saw him alive was Sept. 13, their wedding anniversary. 

“It hurts, having his birthday,” Rick Perez said. “It hurts seeing my friends and my brother having a grandkid, and that ain’t gonna happen for us.”

“I’m never gonna hear the word mom from him again,” Pedie’s mother, Julie, said in a phone interview. “We celebrate nothing because we have no other kids to fall back on. Every holiday is painful now.” 

The Perez family doesn’t just feel heartache. They feel betrayed because Pedie’s killer was sworn to protect him. 

Their grief has calcified into anger and frustration.

“It’s horrible,” Rick Perez said. “Nobody in this neighborhood will ever look at the cops the same way again.” 

Julie has become bitter with the whole system.

“He was a miracle baby,” she said. “He was not an only child by choice. And then to have it all gone in 30 seconds…”

(Top photo: Pat Perez sits at her computer beneath with Pedie’s photo woven into it, by Taylor Barton)

Richard ‘Pedie’ Perez’s memory lives on in public safety changes


  1. Patricia L. Perez on December 2, 2023 at 5:13 am

    Because it’s next to impossible to FIRE a Police Officer, the City of Richmond had only one recourse and that was to retire Wallace Jensen, the Richmond Police Officer who SHOT and Killed, age 24, unarmed Pedie Perez for NO REASON, very early on Sunday a.m. September 14, 2014, outside of Uncle Sam’s Liquor and neighborhood convenience store, located at 3322 Cutting Boulevard where Pedie had walked to from a neighborhood small house-party gathering of young friends, some of whom had their little children with them. The Killer-Cop, age 33 Wallace Jensen who worked at the police department for 8 years, received industrial disability retirement, for an undisclosed illness effective April 2016. Jensen receives $70,700.00 Tax-Free annually from CalPERS plus a cost-of-living-increase and Health-Care for the rest of his LIFE…only police and firefighters are eligible for industrial disability retirement.

  2. Patricia L. Perez on December 2, 2023 at 7:40 am

    I commented earlier…but I also meant to say that, for SO… L-O-N-G, ‘they’ kept on saying : “<<>>…PEDIE’S Parents and None of us knew how it all works, so, Pedie’s Parents THOUGHT that IF They Settled For ‘Their’ Offer, the CASE WOULD BE BROUGHT OUT INTO THE OPEN…But That’s NOT even HOW IT WORKS. It’s a trick.

  3. Patricia L. Perez on December 5, 2023 at 7:31 pm

    I messed-up while writing the 2nd comment above. I meant to say that police and everyone we tried to talk to…kept telling us: “we can not talk about PEDIE’S CASE because it is in Litigation”, so PEDIE’s Parents thought that IF they ‘SETTLED”…the CASE would be brought OUT into the open…inexperienced us. We found out that it does NOT work that way.

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