Updated April 13, 4:26 p.m.
Despite the recent breakthrough of , an attorney representing families of African-American youth who attended school in Union City aren’t singing praises for the Union City Police Department.
In a recent press release, the office of Pamela Y. Price and Price and Associates instead commended the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the Hayward Police Department for “doing what the Union City Police Department has egregiously failed to do: hold the perpetrators accountable for his murder.”
Price and Associates represent six families, including some of Eddins’ friends, who claim Union City police failed to protect black youth from being targeted by Latino gangs. The families have a pending lawsuit against the police department.
An attorney representing Eddins' mother said she will not be making any public statements at this time.
According to the Union City Police Department, a previous lawsuit filed on behalf of Eddins’ mother was dismissed last year.
Eddins, who was a freshman at at the time of his death, was shot and killed in front of Barnard-White Middle School on Dec. 21, 2007.
According to Price and Associates, Eddins and his friends, several of whom are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were repeatedly chased and beaten by Latino gang members in the period prior to his murder.
No one had been charged with the crime until recently on April 5 when Alameda County prosecutors charged six men with gang-related murder:
- Eric Anthony Camacho, 21
- Jovencio Luis Camacho, 22
- Richard Antonio Corona, 21
- Alexis Alfonso Pamiroyan, 22
- Derek Justin Rodriguez, 23
- Robert Yim, 21
Yim was initially along with co-defendant Veronica Rodriguez, 20, as part of a Hayward Police Department investigation.
Price and Associates said that had the Union City Police Department acted faster in Eddins’ murder case, Nava’s murder may not have occurred.
“Union City’s inaction in the Eddins case may have led to the murder of Nava, only 17, whose death might have been prevented had the Union City Police [Department] done their job in the first place,” Price and Associates said.
Union City police, however, say they’ve worked diligently on the Eddins case and were outraged to hear of such claims.
“I am disappointed with the misstatements and misrepresentations of Ms. Price and I continue to be proud of the work of our investigators who did not give up in their efforts to bring these individuals to justice,” Union City police Chief Brian Foley said.
Union City police said several arrests were made shortly after the 2007 murder but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the suspects. Recent additional witness statements led to the new arrests, said Cmdr. Ben Horner of the UCPD.
“The case has never been closed,” Horner told Patch on Monday.
The Union City Police Department and the Southern Alameda County Major Crimes Task Force headed the Eddins investigation. Though they worked in conjunction with Hayward, the arrests were made by Union City and the task force, Horner said.
Horner, a spokesman for the police department, would not comment on the lawsuit filed by Price but said, “We’re comfortable that the allegations are unfounded, and that’ll play out in a court of law as opposed to being played out in the media.”
City officials also backed the police department and congratulated them for the recent arrests in the case.
"I am proud of the efforts of the Union City Police Department to develop the necessary evidence to bring this case to prosecution," City Manager Larry Cheeves said in a statement. "Six arrests for this crime demonstrate our on-going and unflagging efforts in this investigation. We are eager to see justice done for the family of Vernon Eddins and the entire Union City community."
While the lawsuit against the Union City Police Department is still pending, the group of parents also filed a lawsuit against the New Haven Unified School District for similar allegations that school officials failed to protect black youths from Latino gang members.
to the students' families.
Correction: We originally reported that Price and Associates represented Vernon Eddins' mother, Angelique Paige. Paige is being represented by attorneys William Denkers, John Russell and Arnold Woods.