In what is often said to have been the first European novel, a former soldier, slave, prisoner and con man named Miguel de Cervantes imagined one of Western Civilization’s truest phantoms, the foolish and ingenious hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha. The phantom is truer than half the people you know because Don Quixote embraced his foolishness and the inevitability of his failure in a way most men cannot bear to do. And, he is also true in the same way that all the greatest literary characters are true – because sometimes you bump into him on the street. For example, Al “The Suit” Cavazos.
Almost five years after Al, his brother Doc and his nephew Li’l Rubes were expelled from the Mongols Motorcycle Club in bad standings, then arrested, jailed, impoverished and humiliated, the Don Quixote of West Covina continues his holy and single minded war against the designer of his disaster, an ATF Agent named John Ciccone. (That’s Ciccone in the unflattering screen grab above.) “It’s all I do. It’s what I do all day. Every day,” Al said the last time he appeared out of thin air. “You know, I had to sell my car. I’m broke.”
The case Ciccone contrived is almost finished and he appears to have moved on to another case against a California based motorcycle club. Al has been free to stare at the sky for almost two years. He got his motorcycle back this winter. Li’l Rubes was released from a halfway house last summer. And, if Doc’s boasts are to believed he is a prince among the prisoners incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute in Anthony, Texas. But the case will probably never be over for Al.
All Al wants is to see Ciccone and a Montebello, California cop named Christopher Cervantes in shackles. Like Quixote’s, Al’s dream is impossible. Like Quixote, he knows this and he does not care.
Al thinks he has some leverage in his quest because he has caught Ciccone and Cervantes in a bald lie. The lie is about a shooting at an upscale topless bar in Commerce, California named Nicola’s. Al Cavazos and Ciccone and Cervantes all witnessed a brief shootout between members of street clique named Gage Maravilla and a couple of Mongols. The incident was used as a predicate charge in the 2008 racketeering case Ciccone made against the Mongols. And, Al is furious that both cops lied and behaved unethically, and possibly illegally, before, during and after the exchange of gun fire.
Al’s lance is his words. He has been sending a letter to reporters and government officials for almost two years. A recent version of the letter reads:
“On April 8, 2007 I was at Nicola’s Bar in the City of Commerce and witnessed the event that I will describe. At closing time I walked out of the bar with Tommy Savala, there was a confrontation with other patrons at the establishment which I tried to stop from escalating into a full out brawl. But then ATF Agent John Ciccone and Sergeant Chris Cervantes from the Montebello Police Department intervened and would not let myself or Club Security stop the ensuing fight. These two law enforcement officers just stood there and watched the whole thing unveil and it seemed like they wanted it to happen because they could have stopped the entire incident from happening. I ask why did they not stop the fight when they saw it begin to happen. There were three people shot at this fight and one patron went to prison for this incident. Not only did these two law enforcement officers let the shootings occur they did not even come to the aid of Tommy Savala who was shot at the scene. Mr. Savala had to go to the hospital on his own. I tried to help Mr. Savala when he was shot but the two officers would not let me help him. It seemed like they had total disrespect for Mr. Savala’s life and wanted him to die so that they could build a bigger case. I would also like to know why they did not put this in police report after this shooting. There was no mention of Mr. Savala being shot and wounded. It clearly shows that they wanted to cover up the shooting of Mr. Savala and again I ask why?
“These two officers also lied to the Grand Jury about how many people were shot and how many shooters were involved. They told the Grand Jury that there were only two people shot and only one shooter. I have evidence that shows that there were three individuals shot and that there were three shooters as evidenced by the shell casings found at the scene and the eyewitnesses that saw it all happen. It’s obvious that they lied because they had 77 field interview cards of witnesses to the incident and none of these individuals were interviewed after the incident including myself. It is apparent that these Law Enforcement Officers lied to the Grand Jury to get there criminal indictment against the club. They abused their power and had a personal vendetta against the club.”
Everyone who might care about this incident of the police playing dirty probably already knows. Al keeps a list of people he has told about the shooting at Nicola’s. It is not a complete list of everyone he has cajoled and complained to but it is long and interesting:
“CBS 2 Investigates, Charles Feldman – Reporter, David Goldstein – Reporter; Fox 11 Investigates, Gina Silva – Reporter; NBC 4 I – Team, Chris Heneo – Producer; Attorney Gloria Allred; New York Times, Serge F. Kovaleski; LA Times, Victoria Kim, Richard Winton, Abby Swell, Robert Faturechi, Scott Glover, Jim Newton, Richard Serrano, John M. Glionna, Ashley Powers, Matt Lait, Christine Hanley, Ellen Barry, Hector Becerra, Joel Rubin, Jack Leonard; Senator Dianne Feinstein; Congressman Darrell Issa; Montebello Police Department, Lieutenant Michael Bergman, Lieutenant Ric Rojas, Captain Brad Keller; Montebellow City Administrator Keith M. Breskin; Los Angeles District Attorney Office; ACLU of Southern California; Chris Yost – KTLA Channel 5; Jim Nash – KTLA Channel 5; Gloria Molina County Supervisor; Ken Ritter – The Associated Press; Judge David O. Carter – Federal Judge; Judge Otis D. Wright – Federal Judge; Chris Blatchford – Fox TV Investigates; Rick Semu, NBC Investigates; ABC News, Investigative Unit, Burbank, CA; FBI Civil Rights Division, Los Angeles; Kamala D, Harris, California Attorney General; and Los Angeles District Attorney Justice System Integrity Unit.”
Only Frank Girardot, an editor for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune has reported what Al told him. No one else has found a story worth telling in what Al Cavazos says he saw. Only Montebello Police Captain Brad Keller bothered to write Al back.
“The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the complaint you filed with the Montebello Police Department on or about November 8, 2011 has been investigated and concluded by an Internal Affairs Investigator of the Montebello Police Department,” Keller wrote.
“As you are well aware the case in which you claim a Montebello officer perjured himself was adjudicated in a court of law and therefore any claims of perjury should be addressed with the court in question. However, as a matter of addressing your complaint filed with the Montebello Police Department based on the information you provided to the Montebello Police Department coupled with a review of other materials related to this case, interviews, and other supporting documentation it is the determination of this Department that there is insufficient evidence to sustain your claim of perjury by a member of the Montebello Police Department.”
The issue seems as dead as chivalry. And, Al Cavazos refuses to believe that.