The fatal 2008 shootings of a San Francisco father and two of his sons were not typical gang warfare, and The City was going to make Edwin Ramos pay for it, a homicide inspector told the suspected killer during a heated interrogation days later.
Video of the hours-long interview was played for jurors at Ramos’ trial Tuesday, offering a rare glimpse into how police viewed the shootings, and how interrogators cajole, sympathize, and even lie to get suspects to confess.
Ramos, 25, is on trial for three counts of murder for the drive-by killings of Anthony Bologna and his sons Michael and Matthew, 16. Police believe the former MS-13 member mistook them for rival gang members.
A third son, Andrew, survived the shootings and identified Ramos as the triggerman. But during interrogation, Inspector Mike Philpott told Ramos that several people identified him. Philpott acknowledged Tuesday that his statements were a bluff meant to elicit a confession.
“They have you at the scene, you were ID’d at the scene,” Philpott told Ramos during interrogation. “We know you were there. You are going to get charged with this.”
Ramos replied, “Yeah, but I didn’t do it.”
Judge Charles Haines told jurors that they should only use the video as evidence of Ramos' credibility and state of mind. Nothing an inspector says during interrogation is evidence, Haines said, and officers are under no legal obligation to tell suspects the truth.
Philpott grilled Ramos about where he was driving, who he was with, and why he later cut his hair and mustache. More than once, Ramos snickered.
“A father and two sons died, and you’re laughing,” Philpott said, noting that jurors would eventually view the video. “The more you say ‘no,’ the more they’re going to say ‘yes.’”
Of the elder Bologna, Philpott said, “This is not one guy, or a gang member. This is a family man, that everyone out there knew, everyone loved.”
Philpott added, “This might be a liberal town, but when it comes to certain stuff, they’re not liberal no more. You’re going to go away forever.”
He told Ramos the media would call him “a mass murderer.”
But Ramos insisted, “I wasn’t there.”
It wasn’t until later, during an interview with another inspector, that Ramos admitted he drove the suspect vehicle, while insisting that a passenger fired the shots. His attorneys say Ramos had no idea that man planned to open fire.