Rally held in honor of mother killed in crash involving SBPD officer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Family and supporters of Erica Flores gathered in Downtown South Bend to march to the South Bend Police Department on Monday.
Organizers said the demonstration was held in the memory of Flores, who was killed in a police involved car accident on July 20.
“We don’t just want any justice,” said Bruce Mitchell, who took part in Monday’s demonstration. “We want real justice.”
Police confirmed Officer Justin Gorny was behind the wheel when Flores’ car was hit near Kaley and Western Avenue. A grand jury declined to press charges, but according to the Prosecutor’s Office, Officer Gorny did not have his sirens on.
According to Flores’ family attorney, Officer Gorny was not following department protocol.
“It could’ve happened to any one of us, that’s how close it hit home,” Mitchell said. “We see it all over the news and all over the country, but now it’s here.”
Watch a Facebook Live of Monday’s demonstration below:
The group listened to speakers, including community leaders Jesusa Rivera and Luis Zapata. They also signed a list of demands and proposals Flores’ sister, Soraida, came up with.
She said she does not want what happened to her sister to happen to anyone else. The demands include the following:
- Accountability and consequences: ‘Officer Justin Gorny should be fired from the South Bend Police Department because of his reckless action and face the just consequences that a tragedy like this call for.’
- Chain of command accountability: ‘All levels of supervision at the Police Department and the City of South Bend should recognize the failures in the different policies and processes now in place that allow this to happen,’ and ‘We commit to work with the officers and representatives to improve these processes and put in place better policies.’
- Diversity in representation: ‘Include people of color and other underrepresented members of the community in Boards like the Board of Public Safety and other Advisory Boards’ and ‘Law Enforcement in our community needs to be more diverse and inclusive, we commit to help attract and recruit individuals from all backgrounds and races.’
- Improvement in the justice system: ‘We demand decisive, transparent, and just actions from the Prosecutor in this and similar cases,’ and ‘No more ‘hand-washing’ from those entrusted to represent the citizens’ interests.’
- Safety in South Bend: ‘To improve our safety we need improvements, where the technology we currently have works and we need higher investment in all equipment and technology,’ and ‘ We commit to work along the Police Department and City Officials to make our neighborhoods safe and report improper conduct from any member of any community.’
Flores’ sister said she wanted to give her demands and proposals to SBPD Chief Scott Ruszkowksi, but was met with a proxy.
“Well I accept and I’ll be sure the Chief get this,” the SBPD representative said. “On behalf of our police department, our sympathies and condolences go to you and your family.”
At the city’s Board of Public Safety meeting, the Chief will read a letter recommending the termination of Officer Gorny. Officer Gorny is set to request a hearing regarding the discipline charges.
However, the Flores family said they don’t know how to feel with the meeting coming up.
“It was a tragedy that should’ve never happened,” said Flores’ sister. “I’m just looking for answers of what’s going to happen, what’s going to happen to this officer, it looks like nothing’s being done and they’re pretty much letting it go like nothing happened.”
The Board of Public Safety will meet at 9:15 a.m. inside the South Bend Police Department’s auditorium.