Police / Fire

Petition calls for HPD officer to be fired

Though cleared of wrongdoing, Miguel Masso is surrounded by controversy over a 2012 shooting in Oakland.
Photo courtesy of Jeralynn Blueford.
Photo courtesy of Jeralynn Blueford.
Photo courtesy of Miguel Masso.
Photo courtesy of Miguel Masso.
Photo of Hollister Police Department Interim chief Carlos Reynoso.
Photo of Hollister Police Department Interim chief Carlos Reynoso.

A petition demanding the firing of Hollister Police Department Officer Miguel Masso is circulating through social media. While working as an officer with the Oakland Police Department, Masso killed 18-year-old Alan Blueford in May 2012 and, the petition claims, shot himself in the foot “to frame the young man.”

According to the petition website, it had 20,480 signatures as of July 26. It was launched on June 4.

Masso was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Alameda County district attorney’s office, whose report called the shooting justifiable. According to the district attorney’s report, Blueford was shot after he ran from police and pointed a gun at Masso. 

Gavilan College Trustee Irma Gonzalez said she signed the petition—though she was aware Masso was cleared by the Alameda County district attorney—because she was still concerned that someone with “that background” would be patrolling Hollister’s streets. 

“I researched it back when he was being hired and there was a little controversy about it,” Gonzalez said. “He has a history of, I guess you can say it nicely, of overreacting.”

She added that it’s a pattern of behavior for Masso and that police officers need to stay calm and rely on their training so people don’t lose their lives. 

“My concern was that with his history I didn’t feel that he should be patrolling our streets here, just because I am a person of color and I know how easily things escalate when you’re dealing with police officers in some cases,” Gonzalez said.

Jeralynn Blueford, the mother of Alan Blueford, said she did not start the petition but has been contacted by several Hollister residents complaining about Masso’s “bad deeds.” 

“The things that he is doing there like pulling gentlemen over and pulling them out of their car, throwing them on the ground, breaking his cellphone and the man having to go to the hospital for X-rays and dislocating his shoulder,” Blueford said about Masso’s arrest of Earl Malanado in 2017. 

She also said the district attorney’s report is a lie and an incomplete investigation of the shooting of her son. 

“My son is right-handed,” Blueford said. “They found a partial left thumb print. They found Hispanic DNA. That is nothing, nothing to do with Alan. And they knew it and they lied and they conspired and they covered up.”

Blueford said it didn’t matter who created the petition, the point was that Masso has several complaints against him and that he should not deserve a badge. 

“Someone who shoots themselves and lies on the victim who he murdered. My son did not shoot him and that was a complete lie,” she said. 

Blueford said she was tired of the Alameda County DA pushing information to the public that was not true. 

“They lied enough,” Blueford said. “And we will not stop, will never stop. We don’t stop until we get justice for Alan Blueford.”

Masso told BenitoLink that the information in the petition and other articles that alleged he shot himself to frame Alan Blueford is false. He said there is video proof in which he tells his partner, Officer Joe Fesmire, that he shot himself.

“When my partner got there, I told my partner ‘I think I shot myself,’” Masso said. “I watched his camera afterwards and his camera clearly says ‘I shot myself.’ I never told anybody that [Alan Blueford] shot me.”

Masso said he felt that no matter what he said, people would not believe him.

“[People] don’t want to hear what I have to say,” Masso said. “They just want to believe what they heard and continue to believe that instead of just getting the facts.” 

Masso said the Oakland case was investigated by the Alameda County district attorney’s office as well as an outside agency. He also said it was impossible to lie about what happened because there were many people in the area where the shooting occurred.

“There were people not even two feet from me when it happened,” Masso said. “So there are witnesses. For me to sit there and make an allegation that he isn’t armed or that he didn’t have a weapon, that’s false.”

An emotional Masso told BenitoLink he had not spoken about the case because it was hard for him, as the backlash and criticism he has received has impacted his family and the people around him. He said his 10-year-old daughter has been approached by other children and told “‘I heard your dad is racist, that he killed somebody,’” Masso said. 

He said even though he did nothing wrong that day, there is not a day that he doesn’t wish for a different outcome. 

“People forget that I’m human just like they are human,” Masso said. “I have emotions and I have feelings.”

Masso said that even though he loves his job with HPD, he doesn’t want to continue to be an officer. 

“I’ve thought about it 100 times coming in, here is my gun and here is my badge, and just say I’m done with it,” Masso said, adding that the only thing stopping him is providing for his family. He also said no matter what career change he makes, people will always have a bad perception of him.

“If I was to find another job somewhere else that pays me the same that I’m making now, I’ll leave. There is no doubt.” 

Interim Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso said he has received several emails from residents and nonresidents demanding he fire Masso since the petition began circulating. However, he said there is inaccurate information in the petition and urged residents to read the Alameda County district attorney’s report. (see PDF below for Alameda DA’s report and the Oakland Police Department.)

“It’s unfortunate that people just believe everything they read on Facebook and they can’t be bothered to do any research, even though that report is available online,” Reynoso said. 

He noted that the report states the area in which Masso was patrolling was dangerous—one in which Masso and his partner had arrested several people for gun possession the week prior to the fatal shooting.

Reynoso said Masso has been the focus of complaints because of several articles against the officer, even though he has done nothing wrong. As an example, he pointed to a report about Masso’s arrest of Malanado in 2017, which he said is full of false claims. He said Malanado was “immediately confrontational” and refused to sign the citation, which is not a declaration of guilt but an agreement that the citee will take care of it either by paying a fine or fighting it in court.

Reynoso said that in such instances, officers have no choice but to arrest the alleged violator, which is what Masso did. Not complying with Masso’s request to get out of the car, Masso pulled Malanado out. Reynoso said the police camera captured the whole incident. He said the video was shown in court to prove that though Malanado was screaming that he was being kicked in the head, it was not true. 

Reynoso said the officer who transported him to jail was later dispatched to the hospital to report Malanado’s claims that he had been assaulted by police, but Malanado refused to talk with the officer and accused him of a conspiracy of erasing video evidence. 

“The interesting thing about that case is that man never filed a complaint with the police department,” Reynoso said. “He never came over here to report that the officer did anything wrong to him. He just went to the media and reported lies of what happened.”

Reynoso said the backlash Masso has endured is unjustified.

“Honestly I don’t see how he does it,” he said. “Everything he does is second-guessed and he is always being attacked, and the way he looks at it is he is just doing his job.” 

Reynoso said he takes pride in his department’s ability to de-escalate dangerous situations, a result of the training the officers are put through. He said one of those instances occurred in 2018 when police officers chased a man to a house near Veterans Memorial Park. Despite a standoff where the man was holding a gun, officers talked him into dropping it and turning himself in. 

“There’s times when they could’ve used their weapon and they decided not to,” Reynoso said about the officers involved in that case. “It’s always the last thing you want to do with our officers. I think that’s the same throughout so many departments. It’s not that you want to be involved in an officer-involved shooting.”

According to police records, HPD has not had an incident where an officer discharged a firearm at a person in the last 10 years. In the same time period, the department has had two instances where officers used force against a person that resulted in bodily injury. One is currently in criminal proceedings, while the other occurred in April 2012 when a suspect resisted arrest by attempting to punch officers and breaking the stun gun wires that were shot at him in an effort to subdue him. 

 

BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is working around the clock during this time when accurate information is essential. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.

Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.