Saturday, August 6, 2011

Officer Down on the Streets of San Jose: A Tragic Day in 1970





PART 1 OF 3
The driver mashed the gas pedal practically through the floorboard of the 1960 white Caddy trying to beat the yellow light at Eleventh and Santa Clara Street.  John Coldiron and his passenger figured they could make it before the yellow merged into red, but Officer Huerta traveling in his cruiser Eastbound on Santa Clara already knew the Cadillac wasn’t fast enough, and besides the driver was traveling well above the posted speed limit. 

Meanwhile, earlier in another part of town, Emile Thompson started out the night getting into an argument with his girlfriend.  Unable to resolve their differences, the woman kicked Thompson out of her apartment with the assistance of several male friends.  Angered by the incident and his throat left dry from the argument, Thompson decided to quench his thirst with an orange drink at the Winzet, a little restaurant on Santa Clara Street.  

As Huerta’s blue & white passed Washington Street, he activated the “reds” and adjusted his spot light to cover the vehicle’s interior.  “Lighting up” the interior and blinding the driver, the Cadillac pulled to the right and stopped.  The officer prepared for a routine car stop by pulling in behind the speeder and off-setting his car to protect him from on-coming traffic and cover if need be.  The officer grabbed the mike from its chrome cradle and called in the stop “San Jose, B-three, I will be 10-7 at North Eleventh and Empire”. 

Hearing the stop, Officer Jack Morris, as customary for officers to do, decided to roll by and see if Richard needed any assistance. As he approached the rear of B-3’s vehicle, Huerta stepped out into the roadway and gave Jack “four fingers” a hand signal indicating to other officers no assistance is needed.  Officer Morris checked his watch and noted the time was 1:45 a.m.

As the time approched the bottom of the hour, Thompson leaves the restauant with his drink in hand, but returns a short time later and irately accuses waitress Marlene Braden of cheating him by putting too much ice in the cup and demanded a refill.  He then, without provocation, threw the cup of ice in Marlene’s face and threatened to return and “mess her up”.    Scared to death, Braden frantically calls the police.



Son of Oakland police officer, Thompson was a sometimes student at San Jose State.  Thompson was reported to loath his father as a police officer, no doubt fueled by his radical militant political views.   Until the morning of August 6th, Emile only had minor brushes with the law, a couple of arrests for marijuana possession.  However, as we will see, by 1:30 in the morning, Thompson decided to take out his hatred of his father on one of our own, he was going to kill a cop!  Any cop!

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