Family of slain San Francisco Fil-Am seeks justice

JUSTICE. Friends and family of fatal shooting victim Stephen Guillermo recently rally in San Francisco, calling on prosecutors to pursue a murder charge in the case. All photos courtesy of Guillermo media

JUSTICE. Friends and family of fatal shooting victim Stephen Guillermo recently rally in San Francisco, calling on prosecutors to pursue a murder charge in the case.

All photos courtesy of Guillermo media

SAN FRANCISCO, USA – Friends and family of Stephen Guillermo, college student shot dead earlier this month after trying to enter an apartment unit that he thought was his, are calling for prosecutors to pursue a murder charge against the shooter.

Early in the morning of May 3, Guillermo was heading home in his apartment building in the 900 block of Mission Street after drinking with friends. However, the 26-year-old San Francisco State University student mistakenly stepped off the elevator on the wrong floor and tried to go inside a unit occupied by Amisi Kachepa, who opened fire – apparently believing Guillermo could have been a dangerous intruder.

“We are hoping (prosecutors) find reason to charge this man,” the victim’s cousin, journalist Emil Guillermo, told Philippine News. “I just think that this man did not act reasonably when it came to deadly force. Stephen was not a threat to anyone. It wasn’t a break-in. We hope the DA does the right thing.”

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office so far has declined to file any charges against Kachepa, 68, who surrendered to authorities but later was released pending further investigation.

“It’s an ongoing investigation… by the police in conjunction with the DA,” Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian told PNews. Bastian did not know how long the investigation could take.

Meanwhile, Bastian said the DA’s Office would like to express “our condolences and sympathies to the victim’s family.”

In his blog, Facebook page and other outlets, Emil Guillermo has written extensively about the case, urging prosecutors to charge Kachepa.

“There was enough to charge and hold. Now the man is back in the same apartment building where he shot Stephen,” Emil Guillermo wrote in his Emil Amok blog. “We are outraged. But controlled. We want the justice system to be outraged for us.”

But legal experts told the San Francisco Chronicle that Kachepa may be justified in his action if he reasonably feared that an intruder was going to harm him.

"The question is whether there's an imminent threat of bodily injury, and home invasion is very high on the list of things people get frightened of, particularly in the middle of the night," Franklin Zimring, a UC Berkeley criminologist and law professor, told the Chronicle. "This case is well within the confines of circumstances where citizens will not be criminally prosecuted."

Still, Emil Guillermo in his blog contended that “Amisi Kachepa was wrong to use deadly force against a small, unarmed, non-threatening (and) inebriated Stephen Guillermo, who was merely in the wrong apartment.”

Emil Guillermo will speak about the case on May 19 at 6 p.m. at the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco. “I will tell everything I know about the case” and discuss how it plays into the Philippine diaspora, he told PNews.

The case speaks to “why Stephen was here (in the United States) in the first place,” Emil Guillermo said. “He was here to seek opportunities. He was an immigrant, and this happened to him.”

In his blog, Emil Guillermo said his cousin “came to San Francisco from the Philippines and was living his American life.”

Leading up to the time of the shooting, his cousin “had some time off work and was officially on his ‘long weekend,’” Emil Guillermo wrote. “He was planning a mini-road trip. I saw he went to see the Giants (baseball game). I was going to give him my tickets to the next home stand. I never got to see him again.”

Kachepa declined to be interviewed by the Chronicle. PNews could not immediately reach Kachepa. – with reports from the San Francisco Chronicle/Rappler.com

 

This story was republished with permission from Philippine News, a content partner of Rappler