JUSTICE FOR JOSIAH
Antonio Guzman: Left behind from the pain of police violence
Laurie Valdez seeks justice for her son’s father
Antonio was quiet, giving, and very loving. While I was pregnant with our son Josiah, we didn’t want to know the gender of the baby, but Antonio said from the moment he knew I was pregnant, that it was his son waiting in my belly. Before Josiah was born, he was in the room with me pacing back and forth nervously, waiting for the delivery. Because he was so anxious, he kept looking at the clock throughout the night. He kept wiping my face the whole night. And the moment Josiah entered this world, Antonio was in 7th heaven. He would just hold him on his chest and smell him saying, “He smells beautiful.”
On a day that Josiah was sick, I talked to Antonio on the phone, and said I needed help with him. He told me his bike got stolen earlier, so I said I would pick him up if he walked to his sister’s house. I waited for him, but he never showed up. Later that night I was watching the news that said a man was fatally shot and killed by San Jose State Police. It’s a familiar story I see on the news all the time. I didn’t think anything of it.
You never think that the story you see all the time will hit your home. And it was that day it struck our home, destroyed my life and broke the hearts of my family.
I went right away to go see him, but we didn’t have access to him. They wouldn’t let me see him; they wouldn’t tell us anything. Imagine someone in your family, someone you love dearly. Their life is taken tragically, and you are not given any more
information than that of a news story. Nobody from the city checked in on our family because a police officer killed him. He didn’t matter to them. Antonio was portrayed as a villain when he was actually a loving father.
It’s been over two years and everything has been kept from us. We asked to see the body cameras of the officers and we were refused multiple times. It wasn’t until 15 months after he was killed that we were allowed to view a video. Our daughter Angelique went in knowing she was going to get triggered; she needed to know the truth. After watching the video, Angelique wrote:
“Nobody from the city checked in on our family because a police officer killed him. He didn’t matter to them. Antonio was portrayed as a villain when he was actually a loving father.”
do or how to teach my children not to fear cops, when one has killed someone they loved and depended on. I’ve tried to find the words to describe what this has done to my family or how it has and will affect us forever. Anyone could be the next target; I never thought it would happen to me.
But I think we need to teach people how to be compassionate with each other. I went to the mother of Phillip Watkins, another victim of gun violence by a San Jose police officer. I just knocked on the door and went to pay my condolences to the family. I took some food and a teddy bear for his daughter. I can see from my door where he was killed. Since his killing, his mother didn’t have the heart to walk by where he was killed, but she asked me if I could go with her.
My advice to families experiencing this kind of loss is to reach out to other families. It’s tragic when your loved ones are killed, but even in death, when their legacy becomes vilified, it’s even worse. There needs to be more done to protect children of police violence. Body cameras aren’t the answer when police have control of them. Spreading awareness, getting into the neighborhoods, standing up as a community can make these prosecutors change things for the better. There’s a lot of resentment. No one is helping families feel safe. There are kids that didn’t have anyone to stand up for them. Josiah can be one of them, but I don’t want him to be a statistic.
Antonio was someone’s parent. Josiah was four years old when his father passed. He doesn’t understand that this was going to be forever. -By Laurie Valdez