- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005

DENVER — Investigators shifted the manhunt for murder suspect Raul Garcia-Gomez to California and Mexico yesterday after his car was found abandoned behind a Los Angeles house.

Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman said yesterday that about 200 police officers were searching the Los Angeles area for Raul Garcia-Gomez, a Mexican national and illegal alien who is wanted in the Sunday morning slaying of Denver Detective Donald Young.

Meanwhile, Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper’s administration came under scrutiny for what was described as the city’s ?sanctuary? policy, which critics said allowed the suspect to remain in the country illegally despite three traffic run-ins with police.

The issue dominated Denver talk radio yesterday as callers criticized a department policy that prevents officers from checking the immigration status of suspected illegals. Garcia-Gomez was never asked by police about his status even though he was cited three times for driving without a license and insurance.

Officers can only question a suspect about his status during an arrest on other charges. At that point, the police operations manual instructs the sheriff’s department to refer the suspect to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In reality, however, such referrals are rare, said Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, who called on the city yesterday to rescind its sanctuary policies.

?You’ve had lots and lots of people pass through the jail system and haven’t referred them to ICE. That tells me you have a sanctuary city policy,? said Mr. Tancredo in an interview on KHOW-AM yesterday.

City Attorney Cole Finegan insisted that Denver has no sanctuary policy and that officers gave Garcia-Gomez no special treatment based on his immigration status. The suspect received three tickets from October 2004 to April 2005 for driving without a license, having no insurance, speeding and disobeying a traffic signal.

In each case, Garcia-Gomez ultimately presented a valid Mexican driver’s license. He was scheduled to appear in court Thursday to show whether he had acquired car insurance.

?None of the cases would have been treated any differently had he produced a valid driver’s license from any state of foreign country,? Mr. Finegan said.

Mr. Finegan also accused Mr. Tancredo of hindering the search for Garcia-Gomez with his criticism of the city’s illegal-immigration policies, a charge that Mr. Tancredo denied.

Detective Young was killed at about 1 a.m. Sunday while working security off-duty at a baptismal party. Police say he and another officer, Detective John Bishop, were shot in the back after refusing to allow Garcia-Gomez back into the party. Detective Bishop was wearing a bulletproof vest and survived.

Funeral services for Detective Young are scheduled for today in Denver.

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