Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2017  
  < RETURN  
  RPD UPdate on 2017 Homicides
April 19, 2017

I appreciate Chief Brown’s response copied below to by Joaquin Palomino and Kimberly Veklerov, April 7, 2017 Updated: April 8, 2017.

Sometimes I think journalists just sit around and ponder how they can craft the next story that uses Richmond as a bad example. Based on the accounts below of Chief Brown, all of the perpetrators in 2017 homicides to date have been identified, and all but one has been arrested. I doubt if you will see anything about that remarkable record published by Joaquin Palomino and Kimberly Veklerov.

While closure on these most recent homicides is indeed good news, it remains our most challenging issue in Richmond to eliminate the pervasive culture of people killing each other over mostly trivial disputes, grudges and domestic affairs gone bad.

Tom Butt

Dear City Manager Bill Lindsay, Mayor Butt and City Councilmembers,

Please accept this update on some of the recent happenings and activities associated with police employees.  

First off, I want to acknowledge my deep disappointment with the overarching, negative message conveyed in a news story published recently in the San Francisco Chronicle.  See

The malicious taking of human life by another is the most serious of criminal offenses.  RPD personnel are professional, dedicated and meticulous when comes to piecing together these very complex investigations.  Only our best and brightest earn assignment to the Homicide Unit.  Our goal is to gather all evidence, identify responsible parties, and to document cases so that they meet the standard for criminal filing and criminal prosecution by the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office.  

Every loss of human life is tragic, no matter the circumstance. In the aftermath, we are committed to meeting our obligations to help victims' families and loved ones left behind seek justice and find closure.  

Homicide clearance rate data obtained through the state and other publicly accessible, online data sources can be misleading - and it never tells the complete story.  Reaching conclusions based on data alone is akin to seeing one side of a Rubik's Cube and believing you've gotten the entire puzzle figured out. Homicide investigations are very complex, not simple.  The fact that an investigation that "names" a suspect is considered to be "cleared" even if no criminal prosecution follows feels like unfinished business.  We do not rush to discontinue investigative effort in order to pad this questionable metric of performance - we look deeper, and more broadly, with a mind toward solving the crime.

As I've reported in the past, the predominant mode of death in the cases we see in Richmond historically, are firearm dischargings - often multiple shooter events -that result in the infliction of fatal gunshot wound injuries.  All relevant evidence to help prove these cases is important, but the strongest proof in gun or other deadly weapon murders usually comes through eyeball witness accounts.  With group-involved gun violence dynamics, combatants know each other but do not typically talk to police, not even with a dying breath.  So, identifying aggressors can be challenging at times.  But, we've made tremendous progress in this area, in part, as a direct result of increased community engagement and action.  That's the real story about Richmond murders - and the "secret sauce" that's propelled the RPD to national attention as model Community Policing organization.  Building and growing community trust remains a top priority.

Five homicides have occurred in Richmond this year.  Here's an update on our 2017 murder investigations:

  1. Jan. 27 - Tony Callahan (29) was killed by bullets fired from more than one gun, while on the 300 block of Maine Ave.  A probable cause "Ramey" warrant of arrest has been issued for the 21 year old suspect alleging the crime of Murder, PC 187.  He remains at-large while active efforts are underway to locate him.  
  2. Feb. 2 - Frankie Martinez (21) of Tracy was shot and killed during a drug deal gone sour, near 6 - 2nd Street, by Martin Margarito (21) of Novato.  With help from the public, Margarito was quickly tracked to a nearby building - and after a short stand off, he surrendered to RPD.  He's been charged with the crime of Murder, PC 187.
  3. Mar. 9 - An automobile operated by Demarcus Doss was peppered with bullets fired from a passing car as it traveled along Interstate 80 near San Pablo Ave, in a sad case of mistaken identity.  Doss later succumbed to his injuries at a local trauma center.  Although the case is being handled by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), good witness accounts led to an RPD detention of the 3 suspects immediately thereafter, near downtown Richmond.  Murder charges have been filed in the case.
  4. Apr. 4 - Rashanda Franklin (29) was shot after being accosted by her estranged boyfriend Lawyer McBride (43), when he curbed the auto she was driving on Rheem Ave at 29th Street.  He approached the driver window, then shot and killed her while  her two young children, who were passengers in the auto looked on.  McBride was located and arrested the next day in Sacramento.  He's been charged with the crime of Murder, PC 187.
  5. Apr. 10 - Robert Viera (54) got involved in an altercation with Jose Serrano (32) on the 700 block of 23rd Street, and was then subsequently beaten to unconsciousness.  He later succumbed to his injuries at a local trauma center.  Eyeball witness accounts helped to identify, and later locate Serrano.  He was arrested without incident on April 12, and has since been charged with the crime of Murder, PC 187.  

I'm very proud of the teamwork that's come together across a broad spectrum of police and justice and community to pull these cases together, and to hold responsible parties to account for their criminal acts.  It is a privilege to serve among smart and capable Richmond police officers, detectives and professional specialists who willingly collaborate so well to make these important efforts come together.

As always, I'm available to answer any questions that you might have. Thanks so much for your support of the men and women of the RPD.


Chief Brown