The recent article concerning the district attorney’s request
for a Department of Justice investigation into the misconduct by
Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Wes Walker has compelled me to write this
By Richard K. Boomer

The recent article concerning the district attorney’s request for a Department of Justice investigation into the misconduct by Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Wes Walker has compelled me to write this column.

I can no longer stand by quietly watching as the newspapers allow history to be re-written. This column is a reminder to the long-time residents of San Benito County and a brief history lesson for those new to our community.

Since 1982, there have been more than 25 homicides committed in our county, 22 of which were personally charged and prosecuted by DA Harry Damkar, with convictions in all 22 homicides.

Let the facts speak for themselves and if you want, compare Damkar’s record to John Sarsfield’s Monterey County homicide conviction rate. You’ll find as I did, there really is no comparison.

In the Walker article, it was alleged that Mr. Damkar had a “history of not communicating well with local law enforcement.” The public should know the last three murder cases in the county’s jurisdiction were solved due to the direct assistance of Harry Damkar and his staff; which by the way is a fact that has never been acknowledged by the sheriff’s department, not even so much as a thank you.

Two of the defendants were convicted of first-degree murder and are now serving sentences of 25 years to life while the third suspect committed suicide in the deserts of Arizona.

As the top law enforcement officials in San Benito County, Harry Damkar has been able to remain autonomous, while still working hand-in-hand with local police agencies. At times walking that tightrope is a daunting task. The DA has to be objective and impartial when reviewing police reports and cannot charge a case just because an officer wants him to.


In 1988, there was a serial rapist and murderer in San Benito County. He raped a 13-year-old; he kidnapped, raped and murdered two more of our children before he was captured.

The police arrested a subject named Raul Zamudio and demanded that Harry Damkar prosecute him for the rape-murder of Martha De La Rosa.

Based on the facts presented to him, Harry refused and stood his ground, drawing much political heat. Ultimately, DNA and fingerprints established Zamudio was innocent and proved Harry Damkar right. The real killer was captured, charged and prosecuted by Harry and convicted on all of the above charges, plus some.

Last year, there was a similar situation with a killing at the community center. The police arrested a 19-year-old male and charged him with the murder.

Based on the lack of evidence, Harry refused to charge and had the kid released; once again standing heat, publicly and politically. Eventually another subject was arrested, charged and will be standing trial.

Had Harry not remained unbiased while reviewing these cases, more lives would have been ruined. As it was, Mr. Zamudio spent 77 days in jail while the 19-year-old was incarcerated three weeks, both for crimes neither had committed.

A more recent example would be the case against teacher Bill Johnson. Law enforcement had charged him with multiple felony counts. Showing compassion, Harry charged misdemeanors, which would allow Johnson and his family to remain together, and Bill a chance to continue his career as a productive member of society.

Once again, for doing this, Harry receive more than his share of hate mail and political pressure. On the other hand, Superior Court Judge Steve Sanders commended him for his bold but compassionate decision. This goes to show you that justice is in the eye of the beholder.

As the chief inspector for the District Attorney’s Office, part of my duties has been to review police reports before charging and I can tell you cops get angry when the district attorney or deputy district attorney refuse to file charges on weak or non-existent cases. It happens almost on a daily basis and has caused some long-lasting animosity. Police, like most of us, don’t like being told they are wrong.

This is why you need a strong district attorney with thick skin who will not fold to the pressure of local law enforcement and try to do the right thing, even when it means angering the chief of police, sheriff, California Highway Patrol captain or for that matter the dog catcher.

In closing, let the facts determine history not angry or jealous politicians. If the actual facts are used to write San Benito County history, you will find that Harry Damkar is head and shoulders above all of our past county district attorneys.

John Sarsfield will need a very large pair of boots to fill the foot tracks left on the county’s landscape by Harry John Damkar.

Richard K. Boomer is an inspector with the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office and will be retiring soon.

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