The family of a Lompoc man who was shot and killed by police during a 2016 standoff are outraged after the City dismantled the man’s memorial set up outside Embassy Suites.
“Everything was gone, which was very upsetting that someone would take down a memorial that means so much to the family,” Jack Giles, the father of Michael Giles, said.
The City said the memorial became a hazard to those on the bike path, but the Giles family sees the memorial’s removal as an attempt to forget the life of Michael Giles.
Michael Giles was fatally shot by police Nov. 21, 2016 in what was ruled a “justifiable homicide.”
According to a report from the County of Santa Barbara District Attorney, Michael Giles was intoxicated at a nearby laundromat some time before 8 a.m.
Police responded to the area and Michael Giles fled, leading officers on a foot chase, according to the report.
The report also states that Michael Giles hid several times before he was ultimately located by an officer. That officer reported that he shot Giles after the man failed to follow commands, brandished a knife and lunged at the officer
The scene of Michael Giles’ death, near the bike path outside the hotel, is oddly a place of comfort for the man’s father.
“I come down here and spend time with him the best way I know how,” Jack Giles said. “There’s no turning back the hands of time. Many, many times since that day, I’ve wished I could trade places with Mike.”
The site of the shooting has been marked with a memorial, which consists of photos, candles, a handmade cross and framed scripture from the bible.
“We’re here and the scar remains,” Don Giles, the uncle of Michael Giles, said.
The Giles family admits Michael Giles struggled with sobriety but said he had a big heart.
“He was trying to find his rock bottom to find himself,” Don Giles said. “He just wasn’t finding his way yet.”
The memorial has been helping the Giles family cope with the loss, but recently, the City tore it down.
“Temporary memorials are not officially approved by the City of Lompoc,” the City said in a statement to KSBY. “The display alongside North H Street south of Barton Avenue was in a state of disrepair and contained broken glass and other items that could be a hazard to those using the walking trail. Per the city manager’s request, the site was cleaned up.”
The statement notes that City staff has been directed to create an official policy on memorials and present it to City Council.
Within hours of the memorial’s removal, the Giles family was back to rebuild.
“As long as we want this memorial, it’s gonna be here,” Don Giles said.
Jack Giles said the City has expressed support for the family’s idea to install a permanent memorial bench at the scene of the shooting, but no firm plans to do so have been made.