The widow of Kevin Nishita, a high-profile Oakland murder victim, is raising concerns about Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. She is now worried her husband’s killers won’t get the punishment she feels they deserve.
Over a year ago, Kevin Nishita was gunned down while working as a security guard for a Bay Area television crew.
Now his widow, Virginia Nishita, said the DA’s office has gone silent.
“I’m extremely worried,” she said. “The reason why I’m worried is because I have had no communication on my case since she has taken office. In fact, it’s even a suggestion that I don’t go to court anymore.”
Virginia was one of dozens of people who rallied monday in support of Jasper Wu, a 2-year-old killed by a stray bullet along Interstate 880.
The protests were sparked by published reports that Price planned to drop criminal enhancements against the suspects that would result in less prison time.
Virginia told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday that Price’s stance on alternatives to incarceration and support of reduced sentences only adds to her worry.
“Alameda County needs somebody who is going to voice for them and really take these criminals and give them full punishment and she is not doing that,” she said.
Price has publicly said her office has not made any final decisions on the charges in the Wu case and has said the suspects would be held accountable. In a one-on-one interview with Price, NBC Bay Area asked her about the Nishita case and Virginia’s concerns.
Price said that no one inside or outside her office has asked her to review the case.
“I can’t speak to what her concerns are. I have no idea the people who killed her husband, how many are in custody or what they are charged with. We are reviewing cases on a case-by-case basis,” Price said.
Virginia said that she feels the responsibility falls on the DA to contact her, noting the prior district attorney provided regular updates.
In fact, many of Price’s critics cite her office’s lack of communication as one of the reasons they feel she’s too soft on criminals.
It’s an accusation Price said has a long history rooted in racism.
“Its core is racism because the only people who are the subject of tough on crime were Black people. Let’s be clear, so that is a racist message,” Price said.
Price noted that she ran, and was elected, on a platform of criminal justice reform including reducing sentences. She said that she will always fight for victims. But also believes the current justice system has to change.
“The system is broken and that is why we are here to fix the system,” Price said “We have done a lot to restructure the office in less than four months, we have done a lot to push the envelope as far as we can.”
For Virginia, the fear is the DA’s push for reform will leave the innocent in more danger.
“The incarceration is the answer and for us to feel safe that they are off the streets. We are not safe,” she said.
The two men currently in custody for the Kevin Nishita case have requested the case be dismissed four times. A judge has dismissed all those requests.
A status hearing is scheduled for next Friday. Virginia plans to be in court for that hearing.
Source: NBC Bay Area
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