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UPDATE: Family of Frederick Holder Stages 33-Day Protest

Sheriff’s Deputies shot at the unarmed man 33 times.

Frederick Holder's mother, April, sits with five of her grandchildren outside of the Norwalk sheriff's station. They hold signs that read "We want justice," "Justice for Fred Love You", "We want Peace." April's sign says "Norwalk sheriffs wrongfully killed me son and I want justice."
Frederick Holder’s mother, April, sits with her grandchildren outside of the Norwalk sheriff’s station. (Cerise Castle)

UPDATE 2/11/22: At a City of Norwalk town hall this week, Sheriff Alex Villanueva appeared to confirm that the deputies who shot at Frederick Holder, an unarmed man driving on a freeway on-ramp, are still working at the LASD.

“There’s a process to do everything, all right? We don’t skip a process to satisfy someone’s demand,” Villanueva told Holder’s family, who’d asked if deputies Jackie Rojas, Javier Fierros, and Christopher Conger were still on active duty. “We do not skip a process. Understand this, everyone is entitled to due process.”

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department website, all deputy-involved shootings are investigated by the LASD’s Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) for an administrative review and the Homicide Bureau for a criminal investigation. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division (JSID) and the Office of the Inspector General send members to scenes of shootings as well. Once the homicide detective’s investigation is finished, JSID decides whether the shooting was justified. 

Villanueva said that IAB investigators have the ability to immediately remove deputies from the field and place them in administrative roles if a shooting “looks so bad at face value.” He also said, in a “worst case scenario,” a deputy could be relieved of duty. However, regarding Holder’s killing, Villanueva conversely stated: “We can’t proceed to hold somebody accountable if it was deemed unjustified, illegal, because we still need to have the decision.”

Before moving on to the next question at the town hall, he pontificated: “The overwhelming majority of deputy-involved shootings, officer-involved shootings nationwide are justified.”

The family of Frederick Holder, an unarmed 28-year-old Black man killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies, is staging a 33-day protest across Los Angeles County to demand accountability and transparency. 

In a letter sent to Sheriff Alex Villanueva, the Holder family requested a meeting, as well as all video and audio of the shooting, the employment status of the deputies who killed Holder, and an update on the use of body-worn cameras by deputies at the Norwalk station. 

Just after 9:50 AM on June 23, 2021, a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter operator radioed to LASD dispatch requesting a sheriff’s unit to attempt to stop a white Ford utility box truck being driven by Holder. The helicopter also stated over dispatch that he was monitoring the vehicle as it had initially come in as a call for reckless driving from the LAPD’s Southwest Station, located in South LA. The helicopter operator also stated that although the truck was “not wanted” for anything, he would continue to pursue it from the air because the tailgate was open. 

Frederick Holder's nephew holds a sign in protest of his uncle's killing. It reads "#WeWantPeace."
Frederick Holder’s nephew holds a sign in protest. (Cerise Castle)

Four sheriff’s deputies’ vehicles located Holder and surrounded the truck, performing what the LASD describes as a “traffic stop on a neighborhood street one block north of the on-ramp.” According to LASD, deputies used a public announcement system to instruct Holder to exit the vehicle. Holder slowly drove away south on Piuma Avenue and was pursued by the deputies. 

Holder drove the truck onto the on-ramp and merged with traffic, which was stopped at a red light. Deputies parked their vehicles behind him, and three exited, all carrying firearms. None were wearing body cameras. Dashboard camera video shows the three deputies briefly speaking from behind an LASD sedan, then proceeding toward Holder’s truck with their guns drawn. However, the parked vehicle obscures most of what happens next. LASD says that when the deputies approached the driver’s side door, Holder pointed a lighter at them, prompting all three deputies to open fire on Holder. 

Frederick Holder's holds up a sign reading "We want Justice" to show a deputy outside of the Norwalk sheriff's station.
Frederick Holder’s nephew holds up a sign to show a deputy outside of the Norwalk sheriff’s station. (Cerise Castle)

Deputies Jackie Rojas, Javier Fierros, and Christopher Conger shot at Holder 33 times on a crowded freeway on-ramp on Alondra Boulevard in Norwalk. Seventeen bullets ripped through Holder’s body, killing him.

Holder was deeply beloved by his family. “He would do everything he could to make sure you had a smile on your face before you left his presence,” says Hali Holder, Frederick’s younger sister. She says her brother shared a close bond with his nieces and nephews. He had recently become a father to his own son, and treasured their relationship. He had an eye for fashion, and was working on getting his own clothing line started. Holder also had a passion for music, and spent hours creating beats with his youngest sister. “He was so full of life,” says sister Naketia Phillips. “Life just hasn’t been the same.”

Frederick Holder poses on set for the television show ‘The Voice.’ (Courtesy of the Holder family)

The protests for Justice for Fred Holder will continue through March 8, 2022, outside of the Norwalk sheriffs station at 3 PM. Check @justice4fredh on Instagram for updates.