On August 9, 1999, less than a week before his 65th birthday, Mario Paz of Compton, California was shot to death in his bedroom beside his wife, who lay on the floor next to him in her panties. Cops had stormed their home looking for marijuana.
The raid began like something out of an old western, a fantasy assault upon notorious, murderous villains? except the Paz family weren’t villains, they were innocent children, mothers, fathers, a grandmother, and a now dead grandfather to over 14 children.
According to a lengthy article in the Los Angeles Times, masked police began firing before they even knocked on the door. They surrounded the house and blasted the bedroom windows out with shotguns. Then they threw concussion grenades and finally smashed in the door.
As in the case of the Woods, the Paz family strongly assert that police did not identify themselves. They believed they were being robbed.
Guns smoking, SWAT officers burst into the Paz’s bedroom, where Mario was crouched against the bed, holding a bag of money that he had withdrawn from the bank to protect against possible Y2K complications. He was hoping that the thieves would take his money and run. But they took something more than money.
“I yelled, ‘My husband is sick! He’s an old man!'” said Maria Luisa. “I grabbed [an officer’s]leg. He just pointed the gun at my husband and shot.”
Mario Paz was shot in the back at point blank? twice. Instantly killed. He splashed blood across his bed and onto the floor as he died. The Paz family’s life savings was seized as “evidence”. Police found no marijuana or other illegal substances in the home. Maria Luisa was handcuffed and taken away in only her panties to be interrogated at the police station.
Afterward, police revealed that they were actually looking for an entirely different person, who had lived next door in the early 1980’s.
Although seven members of the Paz family were handcuffed and interrogated until dawn, they were never read their rights. A police spokesman said that was because the family was not actually under arrest, they were “detained as witnesses to the police shooting.” No charges were laid against any of the Paz’s.
The officer who killed Mario Paz received a two-day administrative suspension, and is now back on active duty. A month later, the seized $10,000 had still not been returned.