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A series of lies: Ely family denounces DA for eliminating MPs in fatal shootout

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This story was originally published by theIndependent from Santa Barbaraand is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.


By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

One year to the day after their brother Cameron Ely, son of Tarzanactor Ron Ely, was shot 22 times by Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies Kirsten Ely and Kaitland Ely Sweet and their lawyers held a tearful press conference in the driveway of the Hope Ranch family. reprimanda new report from the district attorneys officewho ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide.

Cameron, who was unarmed when he was killed, was the prime suspect in the stabbing death of the siblings’ mother, Valerie, earlier in the evening of October 15, 2019. Those responsible for the Law enforcement claim that Cameron announced he had a gun, then rushed to MPs. during their confrontation with the property.

The Elys and their lawyers dispute this account, arguing that Cameron wastrying to surrender to the four deputies with their hands raisedwhen they opened fire without reason or warning. The Elys claim that the deputies then lied to investigators and that the district attorney’s office is now complicit in the alleged cover-up. They point to an audio recording of the incident which directly contradicts statements by MPs and the district attorneys report, which was based solely on an internal investigation by the sheriff’s office. The family has since filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the county which also claims MPs failed to provide timely medical help to Valerie when responding to the scene.

While we have mourned our mother and brother over the past year, we have not been able to pick up the pieces due to the intentional deception, ineptitude and contempt for human life demonstrated by the Santa Barbara sheriff’s department and conspiratorial obstruction of truth and outright lies put in print by the Santa Barbara AD office, Kirsten said, shaking and reading prepared remarks. The audio recording is conclusive evidence that the statement the prosecutor released claiming the shooting was justified is nothing more than a series of chained lies to protect MPs from their actions and to hide the truth about what actually happened to Cameron.

Kaitland struggled to speak as he remembered his 62-year-old mother, a true fairy godmother, and his 30-year-old brother, a gifted athlete and musician who had the most infectious laughter and gave the best hugs. Cameron had the word veritas, Latin for truth, tattooed on his back, Kaitland said, which was unreadable when he arrived at the coroner’s office because he had been shot so many times by MPs. We urge everyone to listen to the truth, she continued. Listening to audio only takes 19 seconds, then you will know the truth too.

Lawyer DeWitt Lacy, a well-known Los Angeles litigator specializing in police misconduct cases, played the audio recording for members of the media. He illustrated how three of the main points raised in the district attorneys report to portray Cameron as a threat to MPs that they ordered him to the ground, that he announced he had a gun and that the deputies ordered him to stay on the ground. when it has started to split, you can’t hear it at all.


Lawyer DeWitt Lacy said police shootings were an American problem, not a racial problem. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

District Attorney Joyce Dudley blamed the omissions on equipment failure, saying microphones worn by MPs were not picking up those particular statements. Lacy took issue with this claim, noting that other dialogue is clearly audible just before and right after filming. None of the MPs’ body cameras were on at the time.

Plus, Lacy said, the tape’s few brief moments between when MPs first approach Cameron and the gunfire explode just doesn’t allow this supposed string of event orders to happen. was given, Cameron complying, Cameron then saying he had a gun, Cameron next. failing to comply, the deputies reiterated their orders to have taken place.

There was no time for what law enforcement alleges happened, Lacy said. It is simply not possible. The restitution they have concocted does not pass, and they must be held accountable.

Scott Roder, a forensic specialist working with the Lacys team, said Dudleys’ attempt to explain the missing sound as a technical issue just doesn’t make sense. Microphones don’t work that way, he says. You cannot pick up one thing and not something else within a few yards. The shooting occurred as Cameron and MPs stood within 10 to 12 feet of each other, Lacy said.

For too long, Lacy said, unlawful police killings have only been seen as a problem for black and brown communities. I’m here to tell you today that this is an American problem that we all need to come together to do something about, he said.

Lawyer John Burris, who heads the civil rights law firm of which Lacy is a member, said the Santa Barbara authorities’ statements should not be taken at face value. Our opinion is that we should not accept their official position without some corroboration, and there is no corroboration, he said. This is the basis of the trial.


Lawyer John Burris shows where Cameron Ely allegedly stood in the driveway of the house with his hands raised when he was shot. | Credit: Daniel Dreifuss

Even though MPs had good reason to believe Cameron murdered his mother, Burris continued, they were not legally allowed to shoot him if he did not pose an immediate threat to their life. You can’t summarily execute someone because you think they’ve committed a crime, he says. Burris theorized that a deputy may have been frightened by a movement of camerons and ousted with a bullet, creating a chain reaction of gunfire among the rest in a phenomenon known as sympathetic fire.

Lacy further discussed during the hour-long press conference how MPs allegedly ignored their own training and protocols when they did not help Valerie when she arrived home. They walked over her like she wasn’t there, he said. Forty minutes passed before paramedics were allowed to enter the house and declared her dead. Valeries’ most serious injury was to one of her lungs, Lacy said. Granted, it’s a devastating injury, but one that someone can live with if they get the proper medical help.

The Ely sisters said they couldn’t help but wonder if their mother could have been saved had MPs stepped in sooner. Our hearts break whenever we think that just checking his pulse, giving him CPR, or calling doctors right away could have given us our mother back and allowed our father to live with her for many more years. love of her life, Kirsten said.

Kirsten said the family felt something was wrong when detectives stopped contacting them just two weeks after the incident. They waited a year in excruciating confusion for some sort of update on the investigation. It wasn’t until they got the recording through their civil complaint that they realized their instincts were correct. Things were even worse than we had imagined, Kirsten said.

Neither authorities nor the family provided a clear motive for Valeries’ murder, although a coroners report noted that Cameron, a Harvard graduate who allegedly suffered from mental health issues and lived with his parents, had acted erratically and aggressively in previous days. Ron Ely, 81, was at home at the time of the murder, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak after a recent stroke.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Bill Brown attacked the Elys and their lawyers for organizing the press event while their trial is still ongoing. Unlike the lawyers for the plaintiffs in this case, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Barbara County take seriously our professional obligation to avoid undue pre-trial publicity on this matter as it is currently in litigation, did he declare. It is important to remember that the allegations made by the plaintiff’s lawyers are only allegations and not facts. We will respond to these allegations later, and in the appropriate place, the district court.

Dudley made no comment on the family’s accusations except to say that she would carefully consider any new evidence provided to me.

The trial remains in the discovery phase and no hearing date has been set.

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August 27, 2020: An assistant from Santa Barbara, five violent deaths

September 30, 2020: ‘Tarzan’ actor Ron Ely sues Santa Barbara sheriff’s office over family deaths

October 6, 2020: District Attorney Finds Agent’s Murder of Actor Tarzan’s Son Justified



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