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|The Police Killing
of Chila Amaya
By J.J. Amaya in honor of his sister Chila
Written on International Women's Day 1999
My sister died expressing her injustices as a woman.
A year ago my sister Lucilla "Chila" Amaya found herself in the midst of a crisis. In this portrayal of self expression she payed the ultimate price, her life.
Chila Amaya, a young 35-year-old woman and mother of two, reached a point in her life in which she felt overwhelmed by society's holds, restrictions and judgements. She will forever be remembered as an everlasting victim.
In a bout of pain she acted out in a way to often misunderstood and easily judged. Chila was killed by a man who forcefully enforced his authority on her. She was in the middle of a crisis with one man and was sentenced to death with no trial by another, simply for being overwhelmed with emotion.
Moments before she was shot to death she had screamed "I'm tired of men using me!" and "I'm tired of men taking advantage of me!" she was holding two steak knives as her world caved in around her. Again finding herself in the midst of a relationship that had reached a state of uncertainty.
During her life, Chila had been a victim of battering and physical abuse, deceit and lack of commitment. She wore bruises and black eyes as proof of her love for the men that would eventually cease to be part of her life. Once those elationships ended she would find that these men would effortlessly disappear. Their Child Support obligations were too often replaced with emotional stress.
Chila was a prizefighter in her own right. Probably like most women in her position. She made the best she could for her children and herself. She often tried to tackle much more than she could handle. At times she relied on substance to help her through her trying times. She would take her falls and slowly rise to be herself again. She found success working as a receptionist, cosmetologist, and a floral designer using her artistic talents.
Chila was a small, fiesty, pretty, loving, caring, helpful, fun and friendly person. She was at times depressed, angry, wounded and struggling to find the peace she knew as a child. Always seeking to mirror her relationships to Mom and Dad's. They had laid the form for a solid foundation.
Chila became overwhelmed with emotional sadness in her existing relationship, She yelled, "I'm tired of men telling me what to do", as family members recognized and acknowledged her pain. A call was placed to the Police and the life and well being of our loved one was entrusted to another.
In less than ten minutes Chila lay dying in her own living room. She did not take her own life in her cry for help. Instead another man, this time a Policeman decided that she was a threat to others and sentenced her to death, as he shot 5 bullets into my tiny 4'11" sister. The Police blame his actions on the traces of drugs found in her system. She had told the officers, "You're here to hurt me please stay back".
In a split second this Officer made all of her concerns during this crisis a reality. He forced himself upon her; he took advantage of her emotional state of mind not recognizing her pain, then used it against her. Now the actions of this man, leaves the pain of his sentencing with her children, my Mom and Dad, my brother and me.
The call to the Police was a non-emergency call for aid. My father and niece were safely locked in a bedroom and my brother was outside trying to assist with a peaceful end when the shots were fired. Chila was shot through a locked wrought iron security screen door 5 times because Cpl. Richard Tod Woodward believed she was going to kill everyone in the house. He had been on duty almost 13 hours and on the scene less than ten minutes. The Police had declined several suggestions made by my brother.
Chila's rights as a woman and a human being were completely violated on the morning of March 7, 1998. Chila was in her own way, screaming out that she was tired of being violated by men. She was in her own home and the family feared she may intentionally harm herself. She cried and screamed as she was overwhelmed with emotion. Not recognizing this as a human emotion or a human right, Cpl. Woodward shot and killed Lucilla "Chila" Amaya.
The Police Department supported his decision even though the evidence in the case will never support the Police Department's version. Their explanation is she left the front door and advanced towards the room family members were ordered to. Yet, She was found by my father only a few feet from the front door. The bedroom they were in was at the back of the house.
Chila was sentenced to death by a man who will probably never understand what it is like to be battered, abused and humiliated by a man. Here she was again trying to deal with being a victim, only to find herself dealing with someone who would be far more forceful than any of those she was trying to escape from.
Chila paid the ultimate price. She will always be a victim, She will always be remembered as a Mother, A daughter, A sister, and A friend.
We miss you and we love you Chila,
The Amaya Family
March 13, 1999
Union City, California
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