Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year's Resoloution

It is time review those pesky New Year’s resolutions. You know which ones - lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less, etc. How long did you stick to these commitments last year? Not very long.

Let's start this New Year is off better than we did a year ago. It’s easy - volunteer to help others! It is time to look at a resolution that is easy to keep and actually helps you and your neighbors. Step forward and provide assistance for a disadvantaged young person in our community. This does not necessarily mean that you bring a homeless child into your home. What I am suggesting is that you simply find a local non-profit organization that provides assistance to youth in need, and give them a little personal help.

As you read this note on New Year’s resolutions, you are probably sitting at home or at work. You may have challenges of your own. However, it takes very little effort – and no money - to help set up tables and serve refreshments at a youth event. It takes very little effort to assist with schoolwork – 3 out of 10 kids will not graduate from high school. It takes very little effort to be involved with a young person during an evening each week – juvenile crime is up between 3 PM and 7 PM. It takes very little time to coordinate that desire of yours to lose weight when you can do this with a young person – 3 out of 10 kids are OBESE and need a mentoring adult to help them into better health.

It is easy to start. Call a local youth mentoring agency. The best in the Bay Area is Friends for Youth, located in Redwood City (650-368-4444). Or, call United Way to learn about agencies that support youth.

Easy to start? – YES. Call now and make a commitment. Give a little time once a month. Give a little time each week. And, if you can afford to, donate to a non-profit such as Friends for Youth ( Make the call now, before you get busy with other more important issues. Commit to a resolution that will stay with you this year and next.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

GOLF FUNDRAISER - October 3, 2011 - Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club

Join me for the 24th Annual Peninsula Golf Challenge

Fund Raiser to provide what Rich did as a Police Officer - Mentoring Youth in a One on One basis
Octiber 3, 2011 - Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Follow Rich May's Work - Support Mentoring

Here is your chance to support Rich's way of life - he mentored a number of individuals.  You can help by donating $10 toward a mentored youth and that youth's adult go to the snow.

Go to this GROUPON site: 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Change of Address

Please excuse this late notice.

To the drug dealers and gang member friends of Alberto Alvarez, his address has changed. Alvarez failed to place a Notice of Address Change at the Post Office. So, here it is:

Alberto Alvarez, CDC
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deanna's 18th Birthday

A good day for the May family.

See Deanna's party picture at

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alvarez - Probably Will Live Longer In San Quentin than on the Streets as Drug Dealer

Alberto Alvarez, transferred to San Quentin State Prison on Tuesday, will become the 699th death row inmate at San Quentin, condemned to spend the rest of his life in a 4-foot by 9-foot cell, prison spokesman Lt. Sam Robinson said.

His death sentence was handed down Monday by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Craig Parsons. Alvarez was convicted in November of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of killing a peace officer for shooting May after a foot chase that stemmed from a disturbance at an East Palo Alto taqueria on Jan. 7, 2006.

Alvarez was arrested the following day and was taken to the Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City where he remained without bail throughout his trial.

Once transferred from the jail, Alvarez will be placed in San Quentin's Grade B housing unit, which holds more than 100 of the most violent condemned inmates, as well as the new arrivals.

"Grade B inmates (are considered) the worst of the condemned inmate population," Robinson said.

"We house new inmates there because we don't know what we've got," Robinson said. "We don't know what a guy's attitude is going to be as a newly arrived death row inmate."

After 30 days in Grade B, also called the "adjustment center" when used for new inmates, the prison staff decides whether the inmate will remain in Grade B or be moved to Grade A, where the general population condemned inmates are housed.

"They're guys who follow the rules and get along with other individuals," Robinson said.

The lifestyles of Grade A and Grade B inmates differ dramatically, he said. For instance, those housed in Grade A get five hours of outdoor time per day, whereas Grade B inmates only get 10 hours per week.

When moving through the prison, Grade A inmates are handcuffed and escorted by one officer. Grade B inmates are also handcuffed, but are accompanied by two officers.

Grade A inmates get phone privileges, Grade B inmates do not.

"A Grade B condemned inmate's movement is severely restricted," Robinson said. "Their privileges are restricted. It's not the best place to be if you are an inmate."

Food is the same for both classes of inmates, though. Both get three meals a day -- two hot meals and a paper bag lunch. They all have the same size cells and same items inside; a bed, a desk, a toilet and a sink, as well as a shelf with dividers where the inmates can keep their personal property in six cubic feet of space.

"When (Alvarez) is here at San Quentin, he won't be living in a lap of luxury," Robinson said. "A 4-by-9 cell isn't a whole lot of space," he said, adding that the cell is smaller than some closets.

Alvarez's case will be automatically appealed to the state Supreme Court, as are all death row cases in California.

No one has been executed at the prison since 2006, and only 13 inmates total have been executed there since 1978 when California reinstated the death penalty, Robinson said.

San Quentin is the only prison in California that houses male condemned inmates, and the only prison in the state where inmates sentenced to death are executed, Robinson said.

Notorious inmates on death row at San Quentin include Richard Ramirez, who resides in Grade B, and Scott Peterson and Richard Allen Davis, who are in Grade A.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - to the Jurors of the Officer Richard May, Jr. murder trial, The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, and the Redwood City Police Department.

To the amazing Jurors, thank you. Our family wishes you and your families a very Merry Christmas. We know you came to the courthouse many months ago with the expectation that you were either going home the same day, or probably spend one or two days on a simple trial. Instead, you completed a long and public murder trial of a Police Officer. We watched you every day. On the positive side, it was an educational experience. We all learned about real forensics. We learned how to match finger prints. We learned about spent bullets. We learned about gun ejection of shell casings. It is always amazing to see a piece of cloth that can stop a bullet. On the negative side, we all worried that the Defense Attorneys would be able to use “missing evidence” to convince you that Alberto Alvarez was innocent of Murder. You did not hear the words “Gang Member” during the trial because it might have biased your opinion of Alvarez. You may not have recognized that the defendant wore long sleeve shirts during the trial. You did not have a picture of Rich prior to his death – because his constant smile might have biased you. And, you learned that evidence can be presented by different “experts” in an attempt to tell a different story. We do not envy you in any way for your work during the penalty phase. We cannot imagine the discussions that resulted in the decision to come to the death penalty. For Police Officers everywhere, thank you for the Death Penalty.

To the District Attorney’s Office, and the investigators, specifically Sgt. Jeff Liu and Senior Investigator John Minahan – Thank You! ONE person is responsible for presenting this case to the jury in the manner that produced such a prompt and clear statement on the execution murder of Rich - Chief Deputy District Attorney, Stephen M. Wagstaffe. Any public person who witnessed any portion of the trial will agree - there is no better prosecutor, anywhere, than Steve Wagstaffe. Your visit each evening to my parking lot motor home was a great way to end each day. I know you worked seven days a week during the trial, because you also came out each weekend evening. To the residents of San Mateo County, remember this amazing prosecutor during the June, 2010 election for your next District Attorney. It will be my honor to return to work on Steve’s election.

To Marco Marquez, the 16 year old Explorer riding with Rich on Jan. 7, 2006 – thank you for all your help. You were brave during this horrendous event. You helped the prosecution during the trial. And you remain in the teen Police Explorer program. Rich would be proud.

To San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks and Lieutenant Victoria O’Brien – a big thank you for your hospitality. Your constant and kind support during every day of the trail, the security of my business computer, the power and water and other supplies so that I could reside next to the Courthouse – all unmatched by the finest hotel concierge. Thank you. A special thanks to the Office of Emergency Services for checking on me each day.

To Judge Parsons, bailiff Baker, and the two Sheriff’s guards who stayed close to Alvarez in the courtroom and transferred him back and forth to his jail cell – thank you. Judge Parsons conducted this trial in a manner that all students of he court should observe.

To all the Redwood City Police Officers who came by the motor home to visit and take me to dinner, or bring dinners fixed by your significant others – a BIG thank you. I was under the false impression that I would be able to lose weight while fixing my own meals every day. I gained weight! Redwood City Police officers are the finest and most compassionate officers I have met anywhere. Thank you all, and specifically Officer Gouldson. Stay safe.

To all the Richardson family members – thank you for the apartment. We will be visiting all our new friends in Redwood City often, and will stay in your “visitor” apartment. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

To all you officers and civilians who made me aware that you are Marines – thank you. Rich WAS a Marine! I have his beautiful dress uniform in a large upright case along with his other mementos.

To all you who email me direct or email me anonymously through this blog, you can contact me direct at

And finally, to all you who donated to the Mentoring program in East Palo Alto – a big thank you from the youth of East Palo Alto. Because of Rich’s job as a police officer, he had the unique ability to reach into families and help troubled youth one at a time. The mentoring program continues exactly what Rich did on a daily basis – helping young people with adult intervention. Continue to donate at

This is my final blog. Thank you for becoming part of our new big family.

Rick May, Rich’s father

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The jury this afternoon sentenced Alberto Alvarez to death for murdering East Palo Alto police Officer Richard May in 2006.

The same six men and six women who last month found Alberto Alvarez guilty of first-degree murder with the special circumstance that May was performing his police duties when killed deliberated his penalty for nearly four days.

I was not in town for the Jury Announcement - if you wish to send an email...


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Murder Trial - the Defense: Alberto Alvarez was "not the worst of the worst"

The closing arguments given today and the judge read the jury instructions. The jury deliberated for 75 minutes and will resume deliberations Friday morning at 9:00. The case is now in the hands of the jury.

Steve Wagstaffe's two arguments emphasized that there was nothing mitigating or sympathetic about the defendant or the defense case and there was no reason whatsoever for the jury to exercise mercy for the defendant. The defense arguments simply told the jury that this defendant was not the "worst of the worst" and was not an appropriate candidate for the death penalty.

The jury was instructed and deliberated for 75 minutes at the end of the afternoon. The trial resumes Friday morning at 9:00 with further jury deliberations. The defendant remains in custody on no bail status.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Final Penalty Phase Evidence - Officer Richard May Murder Trial

Erin & Rich

-63rd day of jury trial was completed in Dept. 9, Judge Craig Parsons. The fifth day of the penalty phase was conducted and the third day of defense evidence was presented. Three defense witnesses testified: Dr. Nancy Cowardin, Dr. Rahn Minagawa and the defendant’s father. Dr. Cowardin is an educational psychologist who gave the defendant a battery of tests and concluded he has low normal intelligence, an IQ of 84 and although he has no academic learning disabilities, he has extensive auditory processing disabilities that caused his attention deficit disorder and stunted his growth in school. Dr. Minagawa is a social psychologist who testified about the defendant’s juvenile years and how the absence of his father due to drug addiction, the failure of school teachers to see his deficits, his life in the crime-ridden town of East Palo Alto, and 25 other risk factors influenced the defendant toward the criminal life he adopted (thus he is the product of his environment.) On cross-examination he described in detail the defendant’s extensive juvenile record, the efforts made by others to intervene and steer the defendant away from crime (which he rejected) and his involvement in the street gang. The defendant’s father testified, said his drug addiction was responsible for everything, and asked the jury to spare his son’s life. In rebuttal the prosecution called the defendant’s two parole officers to testify that the defendant’s parents requested his parole be transferred to Merced County where they had moved, that the parole officers approved the move and the defendant told them he did not want to leave East Palo Alto. The trial is in recess Wednesday (mandatory state court furlough day) and will resume Thursday morning at 9:30 with the reading of the jury instructions (20-30 minutes) and the presentation of the closing arguments. The defendant remains in custody on no bail status.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More police killed by gunfire in ’09 than ’08

NEW YORK - A police officer is gunned down in his patrol car in Penn Hills, Pa., while waiting for backup. Near Seattle, four officers starting their day at a coffee shop are ambushed by an ex-con with a handgun. Another four officers are shot to death in Oakland, Calif., after a traffic stop gone awry.

Across the nation, 2009 was a particularly perilous year for officers involved in gun disputes.

The number of officers killed in the line of duty by gunfire increased 24 percent from 2008, according to preliminary statistics compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a national nonprofit organization that tracks officer-related deaths.

As of Saturday, 47 police officers have died nationwide this year after being shot while on duty, up from 38 for the same time in 2008, which was the lowest number of gunfire deaths since 1956, according to the data.

Over the past decade, small spikes in gunfire deaths have been common, but experts say they are surprised by the number of officers this year who have been specifically targeted by gunmen.

"There's an increasingly desperate population out there," said Eugene O'Donnell, a professor of police studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "Other than in rare cases for ideological reasons, we really haven't seen people taking on the cops head-to-head. Something is amiss. It should be cause for grave concern."

Officer Richard May, Jr. was shot and killed in the line of duty on January 7, 2006 in East Palo Alto.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Defense Penalty Phase

We may have one more day of the penalty phase presentations. Then, the Jury will determine if Ablerto Alvarez will receive the Death Penalty or Life Without the Possibility of Parole.

During the first two days of this week, the Jury heard about Officer Richard May - from many family members and friends - the fact that Rich was an amazing person, a good police officer, a missed father, brother, partner, and an excellent family man The jury heard from all these fine people that Rich was a person who spent his full time helping others, and of most importance, .

It is appropriate at this time to add comments from those who email. Many emails, with content I cannot copy here, can be summarized with the most common two words - "FRY HIM". Jury members - do your duty and make a clear statement in support of police officers: the Death Penalty.

Today, Thursday, the defense presented witnesses asking the jury to spare Alberto Alvarez's life. The defendant's mother cried a lot and said the defendant's behavior changed for the bad when his father became a drug/alcohol addict and was gone most of the time; the defense presented a video of family photos of little Alberto Alvarez and family; the mother said she wanted the defendant to live; but on cross-examination she painted a picture of her husband as a good man who was a good father and worked hard (sort of puncturing the defense theory that he abandoned his son and turned him into a criminal by his inattention). The defendant's cousin said he nearly went bad but was sent to Aunt Victoria in San Jose who cleaned up his act and he turned out great (the defendant was also sent to Aunt Victoria but he left after a few weeks because he would not take her discipline). The defendant's high school classmate grew up in East Palo Alto and had a good father who gave him good values and he was able to overcome the gangs and violence (just like the parents of the defendant, but the defendant chose to turn the wrong way). The defendant's sister talked about her brother helping her as a child and asked the jury to let him live. In the afternoon a defense psychologist stated that the defendant is not an evil person or a psychopath and is remorseful (but admitted on cross-examination that the defendant's answers to test questions show a lack of remorse and manipulation and deceitfulness, among many other bad characteristics). In the end, he is just a low-down good for nothing murderer.

The defense did not make any big points today and did not present anything that would sway a juror who is on the fence.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Penalty Phase - Officer Rich May Murder Trial

-59th day of jury trial was completed in Dept. 9, Judge Craig Parsons. The first day of the penalty phase was conducted and the prosecution and defense opening statements were presented (attorney Liberman gave the defense opening remarks). The first day of prosecution evidence was presented and 17 witnesses testified. Evidence of the defendant’s 2002 possession of a semi-automatic handgun and his 2003 pointing a semi-automatic pistol at the PAL Market security officer and threatening to kill him was presented. Evidence of two attacks by the defendant on other jail inmates (murderer Shawn Hedlin and mentally ill Julio Bolanos) was presented as well as the discovery of two jail made weapons (sharpened pen and soap bricks). Three victim impact witnesses (Officer May’s mother, step-father and sister) testified at the end of the afternoon. The trial resumes this morning at 9:15 with further prosecution evidence (12 other victim impact witnesses). The prosecution case should be completed by the end of the morning. [On November 25, 2009 after a total of six hours of deliberation, the jury returned verdicts of guilty Counts I 187(A) first degree murder and II 12021(A)(1) felony possession of a firearm by a felon. The jury also found true the special circumstance that the victim Officer Richard May was murdered while in the lawful performance of his duties.] The defendant remains in custody on no bail status.

You will see no reference to me, Rich's father at the penalty phase of the trial. I am home and back at work. There are 15 relatives, friends, and officer partners providing statements about this amazing police officer. The jury has no chpoice but to come back with the Death Penalty.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Officer Rich May Jury - Thank You

To the jury for the Officer Richard May Murder trial – Thank you for your public service. Thank you for looking at the facts and thinking about the witness testimony. Thank you for not focusing on the unbelievable story presented by the Alberto Alvarez Defense team. I write this note following your Thanksgiving four day holiday. I expect that you had a good time with your family as our family did. We had a full house three of the four past days. Family, friends, and visitors. I expect the same for each of you. When you return on December 7th, you will start the penalty phase of the trial. When you get together again to determine whether Alberto Alvarez is given the Death Penalty or Life Without the Possibility of Parole – remember that there are police officers everywhere who look to you for the protection and support that the Death Penalty for a Cop Killer provides them.

While we wait for the next phase of the trial, we need to thank all the support people and entities in San Mateo County. The Sheriff’s Department, the Redwood City Police Department, the individual personnel of each department, and specifically, my two new families – Jeri’s extended family and Vickie’s family. We’ve added many great new friends to our growing family.

When the trial ended, the daily input of emails increased. The emails have been very supportive and from all walks of life – mothers, wives, and friends of officers. There are emails from people who only met Rich one time briefly and those who describe Rich as their “Best Friend”. There are many emails from residents of East Palo Alto who met Rich during official police work – and state how blessed that are for the meeting. There is one email from a potential juror that was not selected offering support. While it is not easy to know the address from most who offer their support and statements of relief for the jury decision, emails came to this blog from across the country. To all of you, thanks. To those whom I should not identify in this blog because of your involvement, thank you. I am discontinuing this blog at the penalty phase – and ask all of you to support your local police officers with the type of support offered here.

Thanks to all those in Rich’s home town for their support. For close to four years in San Luis Obispo, the notes and personal comments were condolences. Following the Jury’s strong statement last Wednesday, the handshakes, the friends, and those whom we may not really know – all offer congratulations – which must be directed to the legal system.

The reason for such a fast return from the jury – Mr. Stephen M. Wagstaffe, Chief Deputy District Attorney, San Mateo County District Attorney’s office. To the people of San Mateo County - Steve is an incredible public employee, a professor, an expert attorney, a skilled court room manager, a friend to all – and the reason the jury came back with a Guilty on All Counts in record time. Residents of San Mateo County – do not let this man get away from you!

Finally, now that the Murderer of a police officer, execution style, is off the street forever – we need to move forward. We need to support Rich’s work of helping the trouble youth of our communities. Rich’s job allowed him the unique position of seeing into troubled families and then having the ability to reach back into the family to help the young. From Rich’s services at the HP Pavilion, one statement remains for all of us to remember: “Find one young person who needs help. Spend your time with that youth. Help that person become a good and productive adult. And do it with a smile.” We can do this by donating our time and/or money to the Mentoring organization which reaches direct into the families as Rich did. Friends for Youth provide the support and relationships to the youths in the community. Take a minute and go to this web site Select Donate Here. Make a donation, and note that the donation is in Rich’s name. Regardless of the size of your donation, you are helping match good volunteer adults with troubled youth in the community.

An added note – we have great sorrow for the families and fellow officers at the Lakewood, Washington Police Department. I was given a statue of St. Michael by a relative a couple years ago. I keep this statue with me all the time in my briefcase. The statue comes out when I am in hotels, and getting through airport security. So, to officers everywhere, the story of St. Michael:

St. Michael protected God from the rebellious and disloyal angel, Lucifer. He wasn't asked but on his own he attacked Luther. He became a strong Leader and Warrior sending Satan and his Evil Followers straight to Hell. He obeyed His only God, he was loyal and trustworthy, he fought the criminal, and he saved God and Heaven from an evildoer. He polices Heaven and earth even today. So we ask him to protect our police who are protecting the good citizens from the evil one!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alvarez - A Cold Blooded Killer

Prosecution provided the summary of events today. Alberto Alvarez is a cold blooded killer – who shot and killed Officer Richard May. This is the clear statement from the prosecution in summary at the trial. Officer May followed Alvarez because he fit the description and was running from the fight for which Officer May was dispatched following a 911 call. Alvarez, an armed felon, ran away from Officer May. Officer May yelled for Alvarez to stop. This all comes from witnesses. What we do not know is what words were exchanged between Alvarez and Officer May during the period May was following Alvarez on foot. We will never know if Officer May knew Alvarez. We do know that Alvarez turned and shot Officer May. Several times. We know that Officer May was able to get off one shot as he started falling to the ground, hitting Alvarez in the leg. We know that Alvarez then stepped up to officer May on the ground and fired a couple more shots into Officer May to make sure he was dead. Execution Style.

The defense, in their closing argument, described how Alberto Alvarez was an innocent person who only hurried across a busy road and was not running from the officer. During the trial the defense stated that Alvarez only ran across University Avenue because of the busy traffic. The defense had a local store video showing Alvarez running. In the video, there were NO CARS ON UNIVERSITY at the time of the run across the street. The explorer scout riding in Officer May’s car stated that Alvarez looked at them in the car, he looked worried, and turn and ran. The defense attorneys then state that Alvarez, afraid for his life, ran away from the officer who told him to stop. The defense attorneys had the gall to say that nothing else happened that provoked Officer May to take out his asp (baton) and strike Alvarez on the outside of his shoulder. The next and amazing statement from the defense was that officer May then shot Alberto Alvarez for no reason. The defense then said that Alvarez feared for his life when he was shot for no reason – and at that time only, Alvarez took out his gun and fired many times at Officer May in defense – while Officer May no longer fired at Alvarez. Amazing. This armed felon feared for his life? No. He feared he was going back to jail. This is exactly the same reason four Oakland officers were killed a few months ago! A parole with a gun that did not want to back to jail.

I receive a lot of emails asking how the defense attorneys sleep at night. I do not know the answer to that question. Actually, I think of the relatives of the defense attorneys. How embarrassing this must be for them to listen to this amazing “scared for his life” defense.

Rick May

Rich’s father.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Officer May - did more in his short lifetime than 100 other people

Rich Jr, EPAPD - Rick Sr, Reserve

Officer Richard May, Jr. was shot and killed on January 7, 2006. Alberto Alvarez was caught and admitted to the killing. Including the second execution style shots as Officer May lay on the ground. The jury hears the prosecution and defense final statements on Monday. The prosecution (the people) will to make it clear to the jury (working within the limits set by the court) that Alvarez shot FIRST, hitting Officer May. As Officer May fell backwards, he got off one shot, hitting Alvarez in the leg. The defense (paid by the public) is offering the amazing story that their admitted drug dealing felon, in possession of a fully loaded 9 mil handgun, feared for his life with Officer May telling him to stop running away from him. (How do defense attorney’s sleep at night?)

Officer May was considered one of the kindest officers in any police force – by the public, by those whom he arrested (yes), and by fellow officers. Officer May spent his whole public life supporting youth activities and raising money so that trouble youth would receive support and direction. Officer May was killed by a 22 year old gang member and drug dealer.

It is time to provide more information about Officer May’s life. What follows is my 2 Year Memorial to Rich:

At approximately 4:30 PM on January 7, 2006, Officer Richard “Rich” May, Jr. was shot and killed when he responded to a disturbance call while on duty in East Palo Alto. When he arrived at the disturbance, one of the men fled. Rich attempted to stop that male. The suspect turned around and opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun, killing Rich. The suspect fled on foot. A young Police Explorer Scout was participating in a ride along with Rich at the time of the incident, but was not injured. It was the Explorer who made the radio call for help.

East Palo Alto is a city of 32,000 that once led the nation in murders per capita. In 1992, a body count of 42 earned the city the dubious distinction of "murder capital of the country”.

Rich, a 1985 graduate of San Luis Obispo High School, was a US Marine Corps veteran. He had served with the East Palo Alto Police Department for 18 months. He had previously served for 14 years with the Lompoc Police Department.

Rich’s parents were divorced when he was young. His mother moved to the Bay area with a new family. Rich was raised by his father Rick, and later, the two were joined by Lynn in San Luis Obispo. (Lynn is recognized by all as the person who gave Rich his sound and good direction in life). In Rich’s early years in grammar school, junior high and high school, he was known as a good person. “I remember taking Judo classes after school with Rich when we were going to Laguna Junior High, way back in the early 80's. This memory is still clear because Rich was such a neat person, so fun to be around, and he made you feel good about yourself, even at such a young age as we were then.” Another of Rich’s friends from school – a woman – remembered her first day at Laguna Jr. High. She wanted to pass through a doorway which was blocked by an older 8th grade student. When she asked if she could get through, the older student told her to go some other way. She said a skinny young boy near her turned to the older boy in the doorway and politely suggested that he should move. The boy moved. The young girl realized she met her first Jr. High. friend – Rich.

Within minutes after Rich’s shooting in East Palo Alto, officers from nearby agencies arrived to help in the search for the suspect. Police officers blocked off the neighborhood to search for the suspect, who was armed with a semiautomatic pistol. In all, more than 250 officers from 25 agencies participated in the manhunt. A suspect was caught about 6:00 AM the next morning after officers at a checkpoint became suspicious when they stopped a car and saw someone ducking in the back. The suspect, a 23 year old gang member on parole, was found with a bullet wound to his leg, that had been inflicted by Rich before he died.

As an officer, Rich committed much of his time to the DARE program in Lompoc, founded the town's youth Police Activities League, and helped turn the Lompoc Boys and Girls Club into a viable place for young people to spend after school time. “Rich was my DARE officer at Hapgood School about 10 or so years ago. A very nice, sharp, professional whom I greatly admired as did my class. What a fine, decent, and beautiful individual. He is one of the finest examples of law enforcement I can think of”. Rich taught Administration of Justice at Lompoc High School to give young adults a different view of the laws of society. Rich also taught classes to new recruits at the Alan Hancock Police Academy. “I worked closely with Rich when he taught at the Allan Hancock Police Academy. He was a brilliant and creative teacher.” During his time in Lompoc, Rich’s Marine Reserve unit was activated for Operation Desert Storm. In East Palo Alto, he helped by mentoring the Boy Scout Explorers. He worked tirelessly to help local young people in a one on one relationship. “the times that I spent with you in ride-alongs were exciting and fun I will never forget all the advice that you have given me in regards to my Future career in the marines/then my career in law enforcement the time that we spent having many discussions in the squad car will be priceless, I will always remember you”

While at the Lompoc Police Department, Rich received the prestigious H. Thomas Guerry Award in 1994 from the Santa Barbara Citizens Council on Crime for his role in saving the life of a victim suffering from cardiac arrest. In 1997 he was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from the Santa Barbara County Probation Department for his work with juveniles. The Lompoc Boys and Girls Club recently dedicated their gym to Rich. During his off duty hours, Rich raised money, painted, and repaired the building so young people would have a place to play after school. The center court circle will read “RICH MAY COURT”.

Rich always went out of his way to help others. A mother in East Palo Alto – “I was fortunate to witness first hand when Rich helped with my daughter over a year ago. She was missing and I can't even begin to explain how I felt. Officer May showed up, not because he was called to come out and take a report- that had been done. He knew our family and his face reflected my desperation. He wanted to find her; he wanted to help. One look at his face and I could tell that he genuinely empathized. He spoke of being a father himself. He was so articulate and poised. Most importantly though, his warmth just radiated about him. What a fantastic officer and human being.” From an East Palo Alto City Council person “When I first met him, I was happily surprised and impressed by his demeanor. In full uniform he radiated a disarming and comforting presence. Officer May was a person that was clearly at ease with himself and with our community. Community residents echo similar feelings about his gentlemanly manner in which handled his duties. He was the embodiment of community policing and served as a shining example of how an officer should comport him/herself in any community”. A school official – “Officer May came to the school and my aide on numerous occasions. He was the first one to respond when our Katrina funds were stolen. I was glad he responded because I think of him as the polite police officer that listened. Well God sent the right one that day. Even though he was calm, and in his usual professional manner, I could tell his heart was saddened.”

The letters from the individuals who state that Rich's personal involvement saved their lives are too difficult to share."

My sense of outrage is great. I'm outraged to see this tragic waste of a good and decent man," said state Attorney General Bill Lockyer as he fought back tears speaking at Rich’s services at the San Jose HP Pavilion. "We know that we can take some comfort in understanding that he was doing what he loved."

I spent many shifts riding with Rich on his Lompoc patrols. He often called me and asked that I ride with him. I suspected it was so he could talk. We never talked about anything specific – just talked. It was clear to me that he was good at what he did. It was normal for officers in the field to call him for a meeting so they could ask his opinion about a pending arrest or how to complete a form. An officer asked one evening how he could impound the tractor cab of a big rig that was in town at the truck driver’s friend’s house. It seems the driver would unhook from his trailer outside of town then drive in a very noisy way to the residential street. Neighbors had complained about the loud noise for many months. Rich reminded the officer that when the department impounds the vehicle of a drunk driver, the driver can get to work the next day by bus or a friend. Rich explained that the truck was the driver’s office and that they should not impound the truck. Rich explained how to write a ticket that would be an expensive and firm reminder of the noise. On another occasion, Rich pulled over a small older car that had just slowly rolled through a stop sign. He talked for a few minutes to the woman driver then came back to the patrol car and drove away. He explained that the woman’s driver license had expired a few days earlier. There was a new baby in a car seat, the windows were down, the baby was crying, the car was full of grocery bags, seat belts were on, and it was 110 degrees outside. Her home was only a couple blocks away. Rich handed back the license asking the woman to apply for a new license – and then told her he had another call. The woman obviously knew what Rich did because she came to the police department a couple days later to show Rich her new license and to thank him for allowing her to continue home. On another occasion, “I remember how one Christmas Eve me and my family were forced to flee our house and stay in a hotel because my ex-husband had become really violent. Rich came to talk to my kids and when he spoke to the 11 year old, tears formed in his eyes when she showed him the little Christmas tree she had decorated with lights and put up in the hotel room. He told her that she was very brave.”

A few weeks after high school, Rich wrote home from Marine Corps boot camp describing the time he was required to have a firm, non smiling face for his official picture. Because it took several takes to get a firm picture, Rich had to do extra physical activities.

Rich took on a special job for one year while at the Lompoc Police Department. He was the SHO officer. SHO was a special Granted program - the Serious Habitual Offender program. Juveniles that had several misdemeanors and felonies during the previous 12 months could be assigned to Rich. It was Rich’s full time job to keep track of these young people, talk with them, try to keep them in school, and help in their family life. I remember going to one juvenile’s apartment because the juvenile had not been seen for a couple months. The apartment was in the name of a man who was the boy friend of the juvenile’s stepmother. The real mother and father were in jail. We never made contact with this person. However, there were many other meetings with young SHO kids who respected Rich and were doing their best to work within the rules as established by Rich.

Funerals for fallen police officers are heartwarming, amazing, difficult and impressive. Heartwarming because our family suddenly had thousands of close friends, all offering do anything from hugging to grocery shopping. Amazing simply because of the mass of friends at the services. Difficult because it is so public. One minute we were at a happy surprise birthday party, the next in a hotel room protected by officers to make sure we were not bothered, then to a service that filled the San Jose HP Pavilion with thousands of officers and general public. Impressive because of the ceremony, the rider less horse with the backward boots, the 21 gun salute, the missing person flyover, and the long procession. The California Highway Patrol stopped traffic on the Southbound 101 from East Palo Alto to San Jose. The motorcade of police vehicles stretched four miles. It took 20 minutes for the full procession to pass under a huge U.S. flag, suspended over four-lane road in East Palo Alto by two fire department cranes. The procession followed Highway 101 southbound to San Jose, empty and quiet as cars were held at on-ramps. Officers were saluting at attention at all the on ramps. Overpasses were lined with fire trucks and saluting firefighters. Then a second service. The public process all over again. The funeral in Santa Maria two days later.
Those who knew Rich during his off duty hours, remember his constant companions everywhere he went - his two daughters, Deanna and Lauren and stepdaughter Brittany Cofield.
Rich was as involved with youth in East Palo Alto as he was in Lompoc. From a volunteer affiliated with the East Palo Alto Teen Home - “our agency has relied on our police department for assistance in dealing with our teen girls. Officer May would at any time, call our facility as well as have follow-up visits to check on the girls and hold them to high standards in working on their programs. I found it unusual for Officer May to speak to our girls in a fatherly manner, as well as an officer. It's not the type of personal, one on one interaction I expected to be a part of and it made me realize there was something different about this person. In speaking with other members of the community, checking in on you was the way he performed his job. Officer May I am sure, set many goals for himself. The goal of making a difference in the lives of others was attained.” From a department employee – “Having worked for 3 Police Department's in my life, I can say that Rich was the kindest, most compassionate, caring and all rounded officer I've ever had the pleasure to work with.”
A local corner grocery store In East Palo Alto was the object of regular robberies. Rich started visiting the store regularly to make his presence known to the area. He often sat in the store doing his reports. He stopped by several times a day to purchase lunch or a soft drink. Robberies ended at this store. Rich called me one day to tell me how bad he felt. Shortly after he left his shift the evening before, the store was robbed and one of the owners was shot in the shoulder.
One statement resonated from the funeral – “To honor Rich, individually find one young person who needs help. Spend your time with that youth. Help that person become a good and productive adult. And do it with a smile." Our family is working with, and raising funds for, the Redwood City Friends For Youth - the RICH MAY One-On-One MENTORING PROGRAM in East Palo Alto. Helping at-risk youth becoming attached to responsible adults on a one-on-one basis is the best way we can duplicate what Rich was doing. Our family is involved in several other projects. We are arranging for a scholarship for graduates from Rich's high school in San Luis Obispo, who need help attending police or fire academies. We are assisting the Lompoc Police Department PAL organization with youth activities - currently raising funds to purchase scoreboards for youth softball fields. We assist the Lompoc Boys and Girls Club in any way possible. The Boys & Girls Club is adding to their facilities for youth services. We assist with youth sports in East Palo Alto. Rich’s mother’s family is working on a field and building for youth activities in the City of East Palo Alto. If you wish to support one of these fine activities, send an email note to Rick May at
San Mateo County is holding the 23 year old suspect in jail. The trial is expected to start December, 2008.
From the San Jose Mercury News “If every cop who dies in the line of duty is a hero, then perhaps Richard May was a superhero”. A retired Highway Patrol officer recently said Rich “was the best damn officer he ever met”.

And finally, a note shortly after Rich’s death from his cousin Sean. “Rich was my cousin and someone I looked up to my whole life. I am just now starting to be able to be sad, because all I have been able to feel is anger. For you kind people that did not know Rich and are offering your condolences, I wish you did know him. If all of the kind words spoken by those who knew Rich make it seem like he was a great guy, it only touches the surface of what an outstanding man he was. It is not often that people come along that are able to have such an impact on so many people in such a small amount of time. Being a police officer did not define Rich, it just happened to be the honorable way that he was able to help others. If Rich had been anything else he still would have been one of the best people I have ever known. (To Rich’s family), I wish so much that I could take your pain for you. My family and I are in so much agony for what you are going through. I hope we can all hold on to the good memories, and find some peace in knowing that Rich did the good deeds of 100 people in his own lifetime. We love you Rich, and we miss you, but we will never forget you. God bless. “

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jury Instructions Debate

A court day closed to the public. The defense had four attorneys arguing the instructions at the public's expense.

People. v. Alberto Alvarez (9-6-83), East Palo Alto PD 187(A)&190.2(A)(7)& 12022.53(D)/12021(A)(1) 1-7-2006 Fatal Shooting Of EPAPD Officer Richard May On Weeks Street In EPA During Foot Pursuit Following Disturbance At Restaurant; Grand Jury Indictment; Death Penalty Case (DDA Steve Wagstaffe)

-54th day of jury trial was completed in Dept. 9, Judge Craig Parsons. The judge discussed jury instructions with the attorneys all day. The court ruled on numerous legal issues involving the legal instructions to be read to the jurors Monday morning. Over prosecution objection, the judge granted the defense motion to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter based on the theory that Officer May provoked the defendant by hitting him with the asp and the defendant killed the officer while in a heat of passion. The court will also instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter based on a theory that the defendant killed Officer May in the unreasonable but honest belief in the need to shoot in self-defense. So the jury will be given the choices of first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and not guilty based on true self-defense. Judge Parsons granted prosecution special instructions on use of force and rejected the defense special instructions on use of force and unlawful detention. The trial resumes Friday morning at 11:00 with further discussion of the jury instructions. Closing arguments remain scheduled for Monday morning at 9:15 (the court will pre-instruct the jury the first hour, take a short break, and the closing arguments will follow). The defendant remains in custody on no bail status.

My guess - the judge provided several options for the jury in order to limit the number of appeals following the jury's decision.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Last day of Witnesses - Completed

53rd day of jury trial was completed in Dept. 9, Judge Craig Parsons. The third day of defense evidence was presented and one witness testified. Criminalist John Jacobsen of Forensic Analytical (defense crime lab) testified about his testing of the firearms evidence and about crime scene reconstruction. He testified that the physical evidence proves that Officer May fired the first shot and the defendant’s return fire resulted in the fatal headshot with the first bullet. On cross-examination he conceded that his version of the shots was not consistent with the testimony of several other witnesses (the three eyewitnesses, Dr. Benson and even the defendant’s version of events), but refused to budge and stated that his reconstruction of the order of shots was perfect and error was not possible. The defense rested its case at 3:20. The prosecution called one witness in rebuttal, Chief Ron Davis. Chief Davis testified as an expert in the policy of use of force, police practices and racial profiling. He testified that the testimony of defense use of force expert (Winthrop Taylor) was racial profiling when he stated that reasonable officers assume an Hispanic male does not speak English when he refuses to stop and that the primary reason an Hispanic male runs is because he is undocumented. Both sides rested at the end of the afternoon. The trial is in recess Wednesday for the court furlough day and the trial resumes Thursday when the jury instructions will be discussed

The prosecution presented 61 witnesses and the defense presented six witnesses. Closing arguments will start Monday morning and probably last most of the afternoon. At 9:15 the court will read the jury legal instructions to the jury; that takes about 45-50 minutes. Steve Wagstaffe will give his closing argument, followed by the defense closing argument. Then Steve Wagstaffe will give a rebuttal argument. The jury should get the case for deliberations by the end of the afternoon Monday.

Newspaper Headlines do not Depict Court Events

Newspaper Headlines do not Depict Court Events

This note is to all those across the country who send me emails asking about the day in court, based on the information they read online. This note is to those who knew Rich growing up in San Luis Obispo and those who work and live in the two communities he served – Lompoc and East Palo Alto, California.

The headlines rarely have anything to do with the actual events in the court. The reading of the articles gives anyone sitting in the court the idea that there is a bias to the articles. What is clear at this time is that the defense witnesses are quoted and their thoughts are well covered. There is little coverage of the results of the prosecutor’s cross examination of the defense witnesses.

I am biased in my reports here in the blog. I am Rich’s father. But the great newspaper reporting bias in favor of the defense team is not proper. It can be expected in today’s media – which itself has fallen to a low in public respect. Allow me to present a couple examples:

“Lab Director Lampoons San Mateo County Criminologists”. A recent headline. The facts are – this person was hired by the defense to shoot holes in the county’s accumulation of crime scene material. This person is very qualified, and did point out several tasks that were not done correctly. One was the fact that an officer picked up Rich’s firearm because it was on the ground next to Rich and cocked, read to fire. The gun was carefully moved so that the emergency personnel could try to offer aid to Rich. The second event that was pointed out as incorrect was the fact that someone moved Rich’s patrol vehicle out of the way so paramedic vehicles could move to the scene. Again, a mistake. HOWEVER, when all “mistakes” at the crime scene were described, the defense criminologist witness could not say that any of the evidence presented in court was not correct and proper. A nice try by the defense, but scored nothing in front of the jury. They did score in the public because of the misleading headline.

“Accused said he Feared for His Life” In a surprise event, the defense attorneys put their client on the stand. The defense team asked Alvarez questions about his involvement and he answered all questions, including the fact he shot and killed officer May, including shooting officer May again as the officer was on the ground. In a very well coached effort from the stand, Alvarez looked meek, quiet, and someone who could not remember a lot about the event which has him facing the death penalty. If anyone in the courtroom believed his “I don’t remember” statements, then there is a total lack of realty to that person’s life. The newspaper stories stated that the prosecution called Alvarez a liar. Correct. That was his very first statement to Alvarez when it was his turn to cross examine Alvarez. All the remaining questions brought these statements from Alvarez: He first admitted he WAS A LIAR. He stated clearly that his job was a Drug Dealer. He admitted that he knew his way around the local properties, including having keys to the fenced area at the nearby apartment complex so he could pass through when he needed to get away. Alvarez admitted he knew he could not have a gun. He admitted that he carried a gun for protection. He admitted that he carried the gun with the Safety Lock switched off – so that he could shoot quickly. He admitted that he had time, but did not toss his weapon before the officer caught up with him. He sold Meth to two regular buyers that morning (but could not remember their names). He purchased his 9 millimeter gun from the pool hall near the shooting scene, but could not remember the name of the person he purchased from. Alvarez said he had $1000 in his pocket from drug deals, but could not remember why he told officers when arrested that he had no injuries. He was hoping to hide the fact he received a shot to the leg as Rich was falling to the ground after being shot by Alvarez. The newspaper headlined that Alvarez stated he “feared for his life”. The newspaper did not make it clear that he stated more than once to the prosecution that he “was a liar”.

I do not need to continue. Please remember when you read newspaper stories coming from the trial that these are certainly specifics about what the defense is doing, and the headline may have a thread of truth – but neither provides a true story of the day in court.

I cannot finish without making a comment about the defense attorneys (paid by the public). In any other court, the names and order of witnesses are provided to the other side. The defense is not doing this. The placement of Alvarez on the stand was a well planed movement, without notification to the prosecution. Alvarez was well coached. I expect that the defense hoped to catch the prosecution off balance by not being prepared to see Alvarez on the stand. It did not work. I expect the defense is hoping that they may have swayed one juror by his sad looks and low voice. Possible. However, Alvarez still admitted to walking to Rich and shooting again while Rich was down. Did the headline in the papers state this – no, the headline said he feared for his life.

To all of you, thanks for the large amount of email. To you officers – be smart. The unfortunate fact is that there are others who place no value of human life and will take it with a gun at any time.

Rick May
Rich's Father

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Day Remains for the Defense Witnesses

One more day remains for the Defense Witnesses

Today was the "52nd day of jury trial, completed in Dept. 9, Judge Craig Parsons. The second day of defense evidence was presented and five witnesses testified. The cross-examination of the defense use of force expert Winthrop Taylor was completed. He admitted several significant errors in his report from February 2009 and, when asked why he did not write a supplemental correcting the errors, he said the defense attorneys told him that would not be necessary. (For example, one of the errors was that he originally wrote that the defendant suffered injuries from the police baton on both his right arm and his right buttock; he admitted in court that the only injury was to the arm and stated that he had confused a picture of the defendant’s arm with his right buttock)."

This was a sorry day for the defense. Mr. Taylor had nothing left to show that he was, in any way, an "expert". My personal opinion, an embarrassment for the Defense.

"Other witnesses were defense investigator Dan DeSantis (measurements), Sgt. Dave Carson (response to the shooting) and fiber evidence expert Laurie Kaminiski. Celia Hartnett of Forensic Analytical Lab (defense lab) testified in the afternoon about the alleged extensive mistakes made by the county forensic lab in collecting and testing evidence."

Ms. Hartnett was a very qualified witness for the Defense. However, she had to admit that none of the evidence brought to the trial was incorrect.

The trial resumes Tuesday morning at 9:15 with the final defense witness (criminalist John Jacobsen on firearms and crime scene reconstruction). The prosecution rebuttal case will be in the afternoon. Jury instructions will be discussed Thursday and closing arguments will be Monday morning. The defendant remains in custody on no bail status.

The only other important information this Monday evening - is that my granddaughter, Deanna, brought home made chocolate chip cookies to me in the motor home in the county parking lot. We had them for desert, with a coke. I think that is one of the requirements of being a grandfather - not doing what we taught our children. Rich, we miss you.

Rick May