Alameda County DA Facing Growing Recall Threat for Hedging on Prosecution of Toddler’s Murder
‘My mission is to root out racism in our criminal justice system’
By Evan Symon, April 17, 2023 1:27 pm
Recently elected Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is facing a rapidly growing effort to have her recalled this week following weeks of criticism for not charging three gang members with murder during the killing of a toddler late last month.
The incident in question dates back to November 2021. On November 6th of that year, 2-year old Jasper Wu was in the back of a car on I-880 in Oakland when Trevor Green, Ivory Bivins, and Johnny Jackson of the Chopper City criminal street gang opened fire on three rival gangsters in another car. The car Wu was riding in was passing the scene in question when a stray bullet fired by them struck and killed Wu in the car. Another bullet struck one of the rival gang members, who survived.
A 13-month criminal investigation ensued, resulting in the bullets fired being definitely linked to the three Chopper City gunmen and the arrest of all three in December 2022. Jackson was charged with murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Bivins and Green received the same charges, along with additional charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and criminal street gang conspiracy.
“Trevor Green, Ivory Bivins were members of the Chopper City criminal street gang out of San Francisco. They were driving a dark Infiniti G35” said then Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley in December. “The individuals were shooting at a Nissan Altima occupied by Johnny Jackson and Keison Lee, members of the Eddy Rock criminal street gang, also a San Francisco street gang.
“Lee went to the hospital that afternoon in San Francisco and through the great work of the California Highway Patrol, they recovered the Altima with bullet holes near the hospital. That car was riddled with bullet holes including an exit hole and a spent .45 caliber carriage casing. While being treated in San Francisco, Lee’s hands were tested for gunpowder residue which turned out to be positive. He was interviewed and admitted to being shot on the freeway.”
O’Malley immediately pursued legal action against the three and went after significant jail time. However, there was only so much she could do as, in November, Price had won the DA election based on a progressive platform of social justice and “compassion,” and was sworn in the next month. When Price became DA the Wu killing was one of the top cases handed over to her office. After a few months of no updates, members of the community and Wu’s family asked where the currently stood, with Price responding back that “”Our office is currently working on a partnership with the Asian Law Caucus to support AAPI victims of violence in ways that open up broader possibilities for healing and non-carceral forms of accountability.”
As non-carceral meant eschewing jail time in favor of another punishment, many in the County were immediately up-in-arms over the suggestion that the three could avoid any prison time. Protests by the AAPI community quickly grew, with many other sympathetic County residents joining in. Last week, a a huge protest outside the Alameda County Courthouse was attended by hundreds, with chants of “Do your job”, Recall Price,” and “Justice for Jasper”, all being aimed at Price.
“We all thought we were done with people like [recalled former San Francisco DA Chesa] Boudin,” said Michael Nguyen, who helped bring in protesters from around the County, to the Globe on Monday. “If Price doesn’t change her position on this, she may meet his fate.”
Alameda County DA faces growing protests
The exploding criticism and protests led Price to post a video message about the case last week.
“Let’s talk about the Jasper Wu case,” Price said in the video. “Anytime a family loses a loved one it is a huge and terrible tragedy. There’s nothing our justice can do to relieve or remove that pain of losing their child. Nothing. Now while I can’t talk about the details of the case, I want to clear the record.
“I assured the parents of Jasper Wu that the men we believe are responsible for his death are charged with very serious crimes and they will be held accountable. We have not made any decisions on what charges to pursue or what not to pursue. We are still reviewing the case.
“This particular tragedy is being used by people with a political agenda to divide our diverse community. The kind of racist messages directed at me personally has been unprecedented. Those who claim that race has affected the case are wrong. My mission is to root out racism in our criminal justice system.”
However, this video only angered protesters further.
“There was nothing being divided,” added Nguyen. “Look at the protests and who the protesters are. There are a lot of Asians, yes, but there were a lot of white people, black people, and Latinos there. This isn’t a racial issue or an issue about division. It’s about justice. Not social justice. It’s about three gang members who fired on each other, who killed an innocent child in the process, who should get as much jail time as possible. You would think someone who is a DA should know right from wrong.
“All what she said in the video, it was fluff. She didn’t answer anything. She made it look like she had compassion, but it’s obvious that she doesn’t.”
In a letter, Wu’s mother was also upset.
“I am extremely worried about Jasper’s case and the direction it might go,” said Wu in a letter. “We lost an innocent and beautiful life. As a mother, I cannot accept nor forgive myself for not being able to help my son seek justice. I am asking for the maximum sentencing allowable under the law.”
With Price still not committing to jail time, and her past comments indicating that she didn’t want ‘mass incarceration’, a call for her recall has already begun. As of Monday afternoon, a change.org petition to recall Price already has 14,000 signatures, with many already comparing the effort to the successful effort in ousting SF DA Boudin or the recall attempt against LA DA George Gascon last year.
“We’ll know more for sure what Price wants to do later this month when the three return to court,” said legal analyst Diane Quinn to the Globe on Monday. “But Price is risking a lot by going against what the public wants and by what jail time similar cases have brought. There has been a huge backlash against progressive DAs and judges in the last few years. Boudin was recalled. [Santa Clara County Judge Aaron] Perksy was recalled in large part for giving a light sentence on a rape case. Gascon nearly had a recall go to vote. People are tired of criminals getting away with these crimes. And if Price doesn’t go for ample jail time, she may find herself out of a job.”
Nguyen again added that “She needs to do the right thing and bring these people to justice, not give them a slap on the wrist. A child is dead because of them shooting guns at a rival gang member. How many more crimes do they need to commit before they see the inside of a cell?
“Price said she wants to bring people’s rights back. What about the rights of that little kid?”
All three suspects are due back in court later this month.
5 thoughts on “Alameda County DA Facing Growing Recall Threat for Hedging on Prosecution of Toddler’s Murder”
In ABC7 news reporter Cristine Ni’s interview with DA Price, Price called Jason Wu’s parents racist to her as a black woman. Disgusting! “They have been misled by people who have a racist agenda,” Price said addressing the death of 23-month-old boy Jasper Wu. “They have attacked me as a Black woman, who have created this narrative that somehow because I’m Black, I’m not going to prosecute people who killed someone of Asian descent. That is a lie.”
I would expect someone with Ms Price’s mindset to have been hanging out at the corner of Haight and Ashbury during the 60’s.
You never met her to say.
The resort to “racism” as a defense is disgusting. Pamela Price was a defense attorney with no prosecutorial experience. An Alameda County judge has already publicly rebuked her in court for seeking to drop all sentencing enhancements in another murder case. Her response was to call for that judge to be removed from all her cases.
We are facing exactly the same problem in St. Louis; finally, under threat of removal, ‘progressive’ Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has resigned. I am a Democratic voter and will remain so as long as the GOP has lost its mind. But there is no doubt that infantile intellects like Ms. Price make it impossible for many people to support a Democrat.