Nearly two years have passed since the July 2010 shooting death of 28-year-old Marine veteran James Whitehead by off-duty police Captain Robert Arnold, but the killing continues to reverberate far beyond the O’Reilly Auto Parts store parking lot where the fatal confrontation took place.
To its credit, the city of Orange responded to the incident well. Although Arnold was no-billed by the grand jury, then-Police Chief Sam Kittrell conducted a thorough investigation and placed Arnold on indefinite leave, tantamount to dismissal. An appeal resulted in that action being overturned, but the Orange PD has not put Arnold back on the street while they appeal that ruling. Kittrell’s investigation revealed previous violent incidents suggesting Arnold should have been removed from the force even before he killed Whitehead.
No doubt that contributed to the city’s apparent decision to settle a civil lawsuit filed by Whitehead’s family, a move that should be finalized shortly. But the question remains — where is the justice for James Whitehead? Will Arnold ever be held to account for, as the evidence seems to suggest, reaching into the pickup truck where Whitehead sat in the front seat and firing a bullet into him?
That is the question that drives a group that calls itself Justice for James,whose leader casts the issue in simple terms: “We want to see justice done for this Marine veteran who served his country as a hero only to come home and get shot down in cold blood,” said Ken Cavaretta.
The Examiner has voiced the same feeling in the past and continues to urge officials to keep investigating this case with an eye to taking it before another grand jury. Cavaretta and the Justice for James group held a previous rally on the steps of the Orange County Courthouse to demand action and said they will hold another rally there to remind people there has been no justice for James Whitehead and that his killer walks free.
This is not a cold case, just one that has not been properly presented to a grand jury. We remind the Orange County District Attorney that the people have not forgotten James Whitehead.
Neither have we.