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Daughter of slain anti-violence worker delivers message to City Hall

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Jodie Taeotui, 2, daughter of Joseph “Jungle” Taeotui, a gun violence prevention worker who was shot and killed on Aug. 13, 2018, carries a sign asking for justice for her father up the steps of City Hall at a rally alongside family, friends and community members asking for justice for his murder from The City on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Jodie Taeotui could barely keep her balance as she carried a big sign up the steps of City Hall.

More than five months ago, the toddler lost her father to the senseless gun violence he made a living trying to prevent.

On Thursday, she delivered a message to city officials written in bold capital letters that read, “Justice for my daddy!”

The two-year-old daughter of Joseph “Jungle” Taeotui was among the dozens of family members and friends who gathered in the morning to demand answers in the homicide.

Taeotui, 43, worked for The City’s Street Violence Intervention Program. He was shot outside his home in Bayview-Hunters Point on Aug. 13 and died ten days later.

Last Monday, police booked 22-year-old Antoine Waller into jail on suspicion of murder. But the District Attorney’s Office declined to charge him in connection with the slaying on Wednesday. Waller has since been released.

“Please don’t give up on seeking justice for my family and the community,” Century Faataui, the brother of the victim, said at the rally. “All we want is justice for Jungle.”

Faataui said the family is seeking answers as to how and why prosecutors made the charging decision. He also questioned whether homicide investigators gathered enough information not only to make an arrest, but to “help put this murderer in jail for life.”

The District Attorney’s Office, which has the burden of proving evidence beyond a reasonable doubt in the courtroom, says there is insufficient evidence to charge the case.

Police need only the lower standard of probable cause to make an arrest.

“The case remains under investigation,” said Marisa Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office. “It’s really important to us that if anyone has information they please contact the Police Department Homicide Unit.”

A police spokesperson could not immediately comment on the matter.

SEE RELATED: Family of slain anti-violence worker demands justice after suspect released

Faataui said solving the homicide should be a “priority” for public officials since Taeotui worked for a program under the Mayor’s Office and Department of Public Health.

Faataui said the District Attorney’s Office met with the family to offer victim services shortly after the killing but has not updated them on the case since.

He said homicide investigators have kept the family up to date.

Also, Mayor London Breed called the family after the suspect was released and sent a representative to the rally.

Outside City Hall, supporters wore pins, shirts and sweaters adorned with pictures of Taeotui.

James Caldwell, a childhood friend, remembered Taeotui as someone who never got upset.

“I’ve never seen him raise his voice,” Caldwell said at the rally. “He was always there to help.”

“I’m really at a loss of words,” he said.

Anti-violence leader Rudy Corpuz of the United Playaz expressed disbelief that Taeotui could be killed after “all the work” he did with the community.

“Jungle was a peaceful man,” Corpuz said. “They need to be held accountable.”

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

 
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Jodie Taeotui, 2, daughter of Joseph "Jungle" Taeotui, a gun violence prevention worker who was shot and killed on Aug. 13, 2018, carries a sign asking for justice for her father up the steps of City Hall at a rally alongside family, friends and community members asking for justice for his murder from The City on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)




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