FILLMORE (CBS) — A candlelight vigil was held in Fillmore for an Iraqi war veteran who was killed while sitting in a Starbucks.

Sergio Mendez, 30, was killed in December 2011 when an off-duty deputy crashed his sport utility vehicle into the coffee shop in Fillmore.

Mendez’s family — some coming as far as Tampa, Florida — gathered Friday night to remember the 8-year Iraqi veteran.

“He always put out for his family. No matter what, no matter who he was fighting, no matter what area. He was just always for his family,” Robert Zapata, the victim’s cousin, told CBS2’s Juan Fernandez.

And now his family is stepping up for him.

“We are looking for answers. We want justice,” said Belen Burgos, the victim’s aunt.

Fernandez reported that the Burgos family does not want the investigation fast tracked but want answers to help clear up some doubts.

According to investigators, 30-year-old Michael Cedarland of Pasadena was behind the wheel of the vehicle that lost control on Highway 126 in Fillmore.

Preliminary reports show the off-duty deputy either fell asleep or lost consciousness before the crash.

Cedarland is a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy but was off-duty at the time.

Mendez’s family wants to know, among other things, why Ventura County Sheriff’s are investigating and not the California Highway Patrol.

Mendez’s aunt believes this could be seen as a conflict of interest.

Translated from Spanish, the victim’s mother Cecilia Burgos told Fernandez that, “it’s an indescribable pain. There are no words to explain how you feel losing a son this way. There is so much still left unanswered.”

Burgos says not knowing what happened the night her son died haunts her every day.

Both the Los Angeles County and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirm that they are investigating but would not comment any further.

Comments (12)
  1. hugo says:

    This deputy commited manslaughter at the very least, and was allowed to go home that evening ! what’s wrong with this picture ? he is seen walking around the scene of the incident while rescue crews attempt to heip the victim, is it not customary to at least detain a possible murderer ? I suppose only fellow officers are allowed such privilege

    1. mark says:

      if there was no sign of drugs or booze then NO they can not DETAIN him people have accidents all the time and if there was no drugs or booze or wreckless action involved then there is no legal reason to detain him. if he mearly fell asleep at the wheel he would get a ticket at most. if he passed out due to some medical reason there is ABSOLUTELY nothing they can do to him. and there is no conflict of intrest with the Ventura County Sheriff’s doing the investigation this officer was from los angeles not ventura so its not even the same department.

      1. belen says:

        A Ticket????? and justice is done??????bla….bla…..bla….

  2. Robert S. says:

    Lord bless the family that is greiveing, as I do know the feeling of loseing someone you love, but seems like everyone ought to let the investigators do their job, and have some sense of trust that they will find the truth of the matter. May God bless, and keep the faith in your fellow man.

    1. belen says:

      We hope…..we hope

  3. Mario Herrera says:

    im sure that 100/100 that this cop was intoxicated , los angeles county sherrif they are like that they drive cars while they drink take the guns to the gym when they are off duty . and they kill marines I dont like l.a.coutny sheriff I hope this bastar get punished

    1. mark says:

      um no where in the story about the gun being stolen from the gym does it say what department the officer was from and since it uses the term OFFICER and not DEPUTY one can assume it was in fact some CITY OFFICER and not a COUNTY DEPUTY. but besides that if you knew what you were talking about all police officers in this state ARE REQUIRED to carry their gun at all time the only mistake this officer made was leaving it in the locker he should have had a smaller conceled gun in a fanny pack on her person and not in the locker and as for the deputy that hit the Marine if he was drunk or loaded on drugs the story would say so since we all know the press loves to bust out the police when they mess up. this was likely a sad accident and nothing more

  4. Jake says:

    One down, 10 million to go

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