Murder of Claire Tempongko
Homicide That Should Never Have Happened
hear the KPFA Flashpoints interview with Purple Beret
Tanya Brannan on the Tempongko case, click
( 2.6 MBs, 22 minutes long.)
October 22, 2000, Claire Joyce Tempongko was brutally
murdered by her ex-boyfriend, Tari Ramirez. Ramirez stabbed
Claire to death in her home in front of her two young
children. Ramirez is still at large.
most domestic violence homicides, Claire Tempongko's death
was completely predictable and preventable. For more than
18 months, she had repeatedly called San Francisco police
to report Ramirez's violence and threats against her.
Again and again she told officers of the escalating violence,
her fears for herself and her children, and of her desire
that Tari Ramirez be arrested and prosecuted.
following is an account, gleaned from police reports and
court documents, of Claire Tempongko's desperate but futile
attempt to save her own life. It is a searing indictment
of the arrogance and neglect with which both district
attorney and police officials continue to treat domestic
violence in this community. Above all, it is a call to
report #990516852, Ofcr. Jason Hui & Dharmani. Emergency
Protective Order (EPO) granted. Charged 273.5 (spousal
abuse), 23152(a) and 23152(b) (DUI); 20002(a) (hit &
run); 148.9(b) (false ID to police officer). Copies
of report to: no one.
Francisco Police responded to a domestic violence call at
Claire Tempongko's Richmond District apartment. Claire told
police that Tari Ramirez had broken a window trying to get
into her house after she had refused him entry. Concerned
the noise would disturb the neighbors, Claire then let Ramirez
in. He immediately grabbed her by the hair, dragged her
outside to the hallway, and pushed her to the ground. When
police arrived Claire told them she had told Ramirez he
could no longer live in the house because he had beaten
her last week. According to the report, Claire told officers
Ramirez had "beaten her numerous times in the past and has
gotten more violent," and that she was "worried for the
safety of her two children and herself."
that same night Ramirez was arrested for a drunk driving
accident. When the arresting officer on the DUI told Ramirez
that his "wife" had called the police, Ramirez said, "Why,
because I punched her?"
officer's report states that Ramirez then moved forward,
put his head next to the cage and repeatedly made obscene
and sexually violent threats against the officer's mother.
was arrested on spousal battery, 2 counts of drunk driving,
hit & run and using a false ID. District Attorney Terence
Hallinan's office had everything they needed (including
a confession) to convict Ramirez of domestic violence.
There were also clear indications of potential lethality
(escalating violence, the relationship ending, etc.) Instead,
the very next day Hallinan's office discharged the spousal
abuse charge "to proceed on other count."
Report #990603108, Ofcr. Jose Jiminez, Guillory, Barretta,
Cole. Charges: 273.5 (spousal abuse), 245(a)(1) (assault
with a deadly weapon), 422 (terrorist threats), 236
(false imprisonment), and 207 (kidnaping).
three weeks later, police were called again. According
to the police report, officers found Joyce Tempongko
"crying hysterically, shaking and very scared. She kept
saying, ‘Don't leave me here with him.'"
told police she and Ramirez had been at a club when someone
asked her to dance. Ramirez became very angry and started
fighting inside the club. A friend, Teofilo Miranda, brought
them back to his apartment to calm Ramirez down. Miranda
told police Joyce told him, "You just don't know him,
he hits me a lot," and kept telling him not to leave her
alone with Ramirez.
to the police report, Ramirez then dragged Joyce into
another room where he repeatedly hit her on the head.
Joyce broke away, but as she got into hallway, "Ramirez
grabbed a beer bottle, broke it in half, and started making
stabbing motions toward Tempongko," the report states.
He then dragged her by the hair out of house onto the
sidewalk saying, "I'm going to burn the house down and
hurt your kids."
according to the police report: "Tempongko told us that
when she was being dragged out, she thought that Ramirez
was going to kill her." Joyce told police Ramirez had
been arrested for domestic violence against her on April
28th. "It should be noted that Tempongko told us that
during their six month relationship, Ramirez has hit Tempongko
arrested Ramirez on five felony charges including spousal
abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, terrorist threats
and kidnaping. At his court date two months later, despite
the previous domestic violence arrest and the obviously
escalating danger and threats to Joyce and her children,
the district attorney allowed Ramirez to plead guilty
to only one charge, dismissing the other four felony counts.
With that, Ramirez was sentenced only to probation.
report 990632549 5/24/99, Ofcr Mark Gallegos. Ramirez
arrested & charged with 166(b)(1) (violation of court
order); and 166© (violation of DV protective order).
Copies to: DA, OR, DV unit.
Tempongko went into SFPD's Richmond Station to report
that Ramirez had gone to her apartment in violation of
a court stay-away order and left her a note asking her
to meet him later. The handwritten letter was booked into
evidence. Claire led officers to Ramirez; he was arrested
the previous domestic violence and assault charges, this
charge too was dismissed by the DA's office in the plea
bargain on the May 18th assault.
SFPD #991411964 Ofcr John Tack, ofcrs Lee, Kiang,
Mendribal, Obot. Charges: 236 (false imprisonment),
243(e)(1) (battery - noncohabitating former spouse).
mother and stepfather called police to report that Ramirez
had again beaten Joyce and that both were still inside
the apartment. Officers found the two and interviewed
to their report, Joyce told policethat Ramirez had grabbed
her hair, pulling her head back and holding it. Joyce
fled, then brought her mother back to the apartment with
her. Ramirez started yelling at her mother, who then called
police. At that point Ramirez grabbed Joyce by the shoulders
and forced her into bedroom, closing the door and refusing
to let her leave until police arrived.
stated she then became afraid for safety because ... Ramirez
has a history of abusing her," the police report states.
It goes on to say that Joyce told them Ramirez was on
probation for domestic violence against her. She signed
a citizen's arrest form and Ramirez was arrested for battery
and false imprisonment.
this point, two things should have happened: Ramirez's
probation should have been revoked, sending him to prison
on the original spousal abuse charge, and two new charges
of battery and false imprisonment should have been filed.
In fact, the probation officer recommended that Ramirez's
probation be revoked and that he be sent to state prison.
the District Attorney offered Ramirez yet another deal:
only a probation violation was filed, and the new charges
were dropped. Ramirez was sentenced to 6 months in jail.
He was out in 4.
#001041186 9/2/00 Ofcr Nate Holmes. Charges: domestic
violence (secondary only); false imprisonment.
responding to a domestic violence call found Joyce Tempongko
lying in bed with her kids. According to the police report,
Joyce was crying uncontrollably with blood spilling
from her mouth when officers arrived. They noted red marks
around her mouth and neck. Ramirez had left the scene.
told police that when she came home, Ramirez forced his
fingers down her throat, grabbed her around her neck and
forced her into the bedroom, where he "applied pressure
around her neck to the point she had difficulty breathing."
The report says Joyce, "stated she felt he was trying
to choke her to death." She also told them that Ramirez
had a prior history of domestic violence.
this was the moment when Joyce Tempongko's life could
have been saved. The police again had all the evidence
they needed to get a conviction on spousal abuse and,
in fact, charge him with attempted murder. Again, his
probation should have been revoked, Ramirez should have
be sentenced to at minimum two years in prison on the
original spousal abuse case, and this case and all the
other interim cases should have been filed as additional
Sgt. Al Lum, investigator with SFPD's domestic violence
unit, referred the case to the Adult Probation Department,
not the district attorney! Why? Because, Lum told the
San Francisco Chronicle, Joyce Tempongko had been drinking
the night of the incident, had not been hospitalized and
had not called police to check on the progress of the
case. "It's up to her to call or come in for a follow-up,"
Lum said. "She didn't call, so we couldn't do a work-up."
(Sgt. Lum should be fired!)
DA's office claims they never received the report, despite
indications on the police report that their office was
copied. No arrest was made. No charges were filed. With
Ramirez free, the danger to Joyce Tempongko increased
exponentially -- a direct result of law enforcement's
failure to act.
#001041227, Ofcr Noel Clark Schwab, G. Moriyama. Incident
type: Terrorist threats. Charges: misdemeanor 647 (disorderly
conduct), misdemeanor 148.9(a) (giving false ID). Arrested
& booked. Later ruled detention only - not an arrest,
per court files. Assigned to: DV unit. Copies to: DV,
again called police to her apartment, reporting Ramirez's
terrorist threats and telling the dispatcher that Ramirez
had a history of violence with her and that she was scared
he was going to hurt her. Claire showed the officers the
emergency protective order from the September 1st incident,
which had not been served.
police filed a "terrorist threats" report, yet Ramirez
was arrested & booked only on public intoxication and
providing false identification to police. According to
the press, there was no reference on booking papers to
Ramirez's threats or his history of domestic violence!
it came to court, prosecutors dropped the case due to
lack of evidence. "It just looked like a drunkenness-in-public
case," D.A. Hallinan told the press. Both probation officials
and the DA's office say they never received the police
appeared in court for a revocation of probation hearing
on the October, 1999 charge of violating his probation
by peeping into a public restroom. No mention was made
of the previous domestic violence incidents by the DA,
according to Judge Lillian Sing. Ramirez, already
out on probation, was sentenced to 30 days in the sheriff's
work alternative program, and ordered to report to the
jail on November 1st.
22, 2000, 9 p.m.:
Tempongko returned home after having dinner out with a
friend. Tari Ramirez was lying in wait. He stabbed Claire
repeat-edly and to death in front of her daughter, age
5, and her 10 year-old son. Neighbors who heard screams
coming from her apartment alerted police, who found Claire
dead in her living room. Witnesses reported seeing Ramirez
running down the street with a bloody knife; the knife
was later found two blocks away.
Ramirez is still at large.
Justice for Claire Tempongko!
Call District Attorney Terence Hallinan at 415.553.9530
and demand that:
He immediately institute a policy that any violation
of domestic violence probation involving a new violent
incident must result in a motion to revoke
probation and the filing of additional felony charges
on the new incident.
He must immediately bring his domestic
violence conviction rate, currently the statewide low
at 26.8%, up to the statewide average of 60.2%.
Call San Francisco Police Chief Fred Lau at 415.553.1484
and demand that:
members of the domestic violence team be evaluated based
on the conviction rate of cases they handle. (This would
force police to fight for their cases with the DA's
Sgt. Al Lum be removed from the domestic violence
Call Commissioner Dorka Keehn, San Francisco Commission
on the Status of Women at 415.252-2570 and demand that:
commission conduct a full and independent investigation
into law enforcement's handling of all domestic violence
incidents involving Claire Joyce Tempongko prior to
and including her death.
The commission remove the City Attorney's investigator
from this investigation because of the obvious conflict
Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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