Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. Murdered - Attorney Steven J. Topazio
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Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. Murdered

According to the Boston globe, the Auburn police allege that the .45-caliber handgun used by Jorge A. Zambrano to murder Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr. during a routine traffic stop had been stolen.

Tarentino was shot in the back by Zambrano.  Zambrano was eventually tracked to Oxford where he was killed by State Police in a shootout.

Why did this have to happen? Could it have been prevented?  Good questions with not so easy answers.

On February 11, 2016, Zambrano appeared before Clinton District Court Judge Andrew Mandell during a bail revocation hearing following a February arrest where Zambrano threatened police.  Despite a lengthy criminal record, Judge Mandell refused to revoke Zambrano’s bail.  In March 2016, Zambrano resolved his case and was given probation instead of being incarcerated.  Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early in a press release addressing this issue stated “Prison wasn’t working for Zambrano, and so he was offered a year’s probation with regular drug tests and mental health evaluations.”

The question everyone is grappling with is; why was Zambrano still on the street and not in custody?  If Zambrano were in custody then Tarentino would be alive today.  The same question was asked when Jared Remy was released from custody prior to murdering his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, in Waltham in August 2013.

In hindsight it’s easy to blame the judicial system, the judges, prosecutors, a lack of mental health treatment facilities and even the defense bar for these tragedies. We should not lose sight of the fact that Zambrano is the criminal here and deserves all the blame.  We should also resist shifting our anger and blame to the judicial system until a thorough review is conducted.  Yes the judicial system isn’t perfect and makes mistakes and I am sure made mistakes in this case.  Nevertheless, every case is different and Judges make difficult decisions every day based on the facts and circumstances they find in each case.  Before impugning the judicial system, let a proper review evaluate what went wrong so that the proper steps can be made moving forward to hopefully prevent another such tragedy.

Until then we should all take time to remember Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino Jr.  I give my heartfelt condolences and prayers to the Tarentino family.

Steven Topazio has been a criminal defense attorney for over 30 years.