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How effective are restraining orders?

Posted: 5:14 PM, Jul 27, 2021
Updated: 2021-07-27 22:02:56-04
Domestic Violence

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The tragic shooting that left a mother and her two children dead in Wasco originated from a domestic violence incident, according to officials. Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said Monday that a criminal protective order was put in place in early June against the gunman, 41-year-old Jose Manuel Ramirez Jr.

"There was a criminal protective order issued against the suspect in June and it was tied to an ongoing domestic violence case between the suspect and the female victim," explained Lt Joel Swanson of the Kern County Sheriff's Office.

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Lt. Swanson is referring to the 2020 cases filed against Ramirez Jr.

In May of last year, he was charged with two misdemeanor counts. One for cruelty to a child and another for battery. Then a month later in June 2020 he was charged again with misdemeanor battery.

Domestic Violence Details:

March 26, 2020

  • Viviana Rameriz, wife of Jose Manuel Ramirez Jr., reported that the reason for the call was because their 8-year-old had a plastic bag that Viviana was concerned might have meth in it and the child would eat it.
  • Jose wakes up and wants the bag. He twists Viviana's arm to get the bag. Once he gets the bag, Jose goes into the bathroom for about an hour. Viviana thinks he is under the influence.
  • Police asked Viviana if there were firearms in the home and she said no.
  • Ramirez was not at the house when deputies arrived late at night around midnight. He was not located.

May 14, 2020

  • Viviana reported that she was going to work when Jose got in and refused to get out. They struggled over a phone, at which time he pulls her hair and twists her arm. Their 15-year-old son intervened. Jose succeeds in getting the phone, then drops it and goes back inside.
  • Viviana locks herself in the car and calls the police. Jose is found in the backyard and arrested without incident.
  • When Viviana is asked about any guns she mentions that a coworker said something about a gun, but no gun was located.
  • Jose was taken into custody and given a date to appear. He never showed for the arraignment.
  • Jose appeared for the first time in court in June 2021

Additional Details:

  • After the March 26th incident, Viviana requested a protective order. It lasted one week.
  • After the May 2020 incident, Viviana declined to have another protective order against Ramirez.
  • Because Jose failed to appear on the arraignment from the May 14th incident, he had open warrants. It wasn’t until June 2021, that he was taken in to be arraigned.
  • On June 3, 2021, a protective order was put in place by the judge. Jose was prohibited from harassing and/or threatening Viviana but could contact her and be near her. That was a 3-year criminal protective order that was in effect at the time of the shooting.
  • Because Ramirez was a felon, he was prohibited from having firearms. In addition, the criminal protective order also prevented him from having firearms. Ramirez was required to surrender all firearms.
  • Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel says there was no indication that Jose was in possession of firearms.
Kern County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel

His last court date was just two weeks before the shooting.

Due to that ongoing domestic violence case Lt. Swanson said a judge issued a criminal protective order for Viviana Rameriz on June 3 based on the severity of the incident.

"In this case an order was issued and appears to be valid for three years. It allowed the suspect to have peaceful contact with the victim however it did not allow any type of violence towards the victim and it also prohibited the suspect from owning any firearms related to this or any firearms period."

Lt. Swanson said restraining orders are useful tools. They can even cause offenders to think twice before contacting victims, create a paper trail for officials, and even additional violations or crime that occur that could lead to stalking charges or additional sentencing enhancements.

But they are not perfect.

"Are they a piece of paper? Yes, but do they give law enforcement an option in dealing with domestic violence incidents," explained Lt. Swanson. "Dealing with just overall arguments and problems in general, yes."

Swanson said a restraining order can also give the victim a voice in court. Victims can talk to the judge or even have the judge talk for them.

But he said when it comes to cases of homicides like what occurred on Sunday where the suspect kills someone who is the victim of a restraining order it doesn't happen that often in Kern County.

"Could it happen? Yeah. Does it happen? No."

Lt. Swanson said when it comes to restraining orders generally they don't have a probation officer assigned to them like in the case of Viviana Ramirez.

"So we don't actively go door to door looking for restraining order violations. If we receive a call for service we will respond and handle appropriately but it will be on a case by case basis."

KCSO says they don’t have any record of any calls that the restraining order, in this case, had been violated since it was issued in June.

Lt. Swanson said that domestic violence calls are the most dangerous calls that law enforcement responds to, especially because typically it's dealing with very heated emotions and sometimes weapons are involved.

So the type of restraining order that was involved in this particular case was a criminal order which is different from the typical restraining order most of us are familiar with. You may not know but there are two main types of restraining orders.