At Tuesday night’s Colorado Senate Democratic primary debate, former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) used his experience in the restaurant business to explain – albeit awkwardly – how he would be able to reach compromised solutions in Washington, D.C.
“I learned in the restaurant business that – you know, I’ve never changed anyone’s mind about anything that mattered by telling them why I was right and why they were wrong. Where you get progress is when you hear people. In the restaurant business, we’d repeat back their exact words when they’re angry, so they feel validated,” Hickenlooper said. “And that’s how we got the oil and gas industry to work with the environmental community to create the first methane regulations in the country, rolled out as national policy in Canada and the United States until, you know, President Trump and Cory Gardner support rolled it back.”
Left out of his restaurant story is the fact that Hickenlooper’s restaurant and his policies regarding Sanctuary Cities and illegal immigrants led to the hiring of Raul Gomez-Garcia, who entered the U.S. illegally and spent most of his time here working for Hickenlooper’s restaurant before killing one cop and injuring another.
Gomez-Garcia killed Detective Donald Young and wounded Detective John Bishop on May 8, 2005 at a Denver dance hall. Garcia-Gomez was an illegal immigrant who used a fake social security number to obtain employment at the Cherry Cricket, a restaurant owned by Hickenlooper, who was at that time the mayor of Denver.
The day after the murder, Gomez-Garcia went into work at the restaurant as if nothing happened. He then fled to Mexico where he was arrested less than a month later on June 4, 2005. At this trial, Gomez-Garcia’s attorney tried to argue that he didn’t mean to kill Young and that he only wanted to wound the officers, The Denver Post reported at the time. Police alleged, however, that Gomez-Garcia shot at the officers from behind after they refused to let him re-enter the dance hall. The two officers were off duty but wearing their uniforms.
Gomez-Garcia claimed that he had seen the officers wearing protective vests, but admitted under cross-examination that he had never seen the vests. In court, Gomez-Garcia said he “tried to shoot them so they would not die,” the Post reported. Prosecutor Bruce Levin reminded Gomez-Garcia that he “shot them when they were defenseless.” Gomez-Garcia responded: “Yes, I was angry and not thinking of the consequences.”
U.S. Marshal Jose Chavarria, as well as two Mexican federal agents, testified that Gomez-Garcia was excited to learn one of the cops had died.
“He said he hoped it was the bigger one (Young) because that was the one who choked him,” Chavarria testified, according to the Post.
Mexican federal agent Oswaldo Iracheta-Lopez testified that Gomez-Garcia’s first question to them was about which officer died. When he found out it was Young, he told the officers, “That’s the one I wanted to die because that was the one that hurt me,” the agent testified.
In October 2006, Gomez-Garcia received the maximum sentence allowed: 80 years in prison.
Hickenlooper has never reconciled his policies with Gomez-Garcia’s crimes.
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