Get Out of Jail Free

In the process of taking down the city's baddest gangsters, prosecutors and cops set some very scary people free.

SF Weeklywas unable to locate Jones or his legal counsel. (We've opted to keep his identity secret for his own safety.)

Federal prosecutors wouldn't comment specifically on their use of Jones or any other informants in the Big Block and Westmob cases, though spokesman Macaulay says "in organized-crime cases we do use members of the organization because they're qualified to explain or describe the history and operations of the organization." According to Macaulay, prosecutors don't merely rely on the claims of informants, but corroborate their statements independently. Asked whether the feds were probing the slayings of Nitty and Laury, he declined to comment.

Five years after he died in a storm of bullets, Laury's death continues to haunt the residents of Westpoint Road. "I think about him every day," Terrell Porter, one of Laury's best friends, says. Porter, who has "BUMP" tattooed on his forearm in large black and red letters, is wearing an outsized T-shirt and sagging jeans. His voice is soft, little more than a whisper, his face blank. "He was a stand-up guy. He wasn't a gangbanger. He was trying to stop the violence." At the time of his slaying, Laury was helping a friend, filmmaker Kevin Epps, produce the documentary film Straight Out of Hunters Point; Epps wound up dedicating the movie to Laury and featuring his funeral prominently in it.

Prosecutors gave a sweet deal to one of the men who participated in the killing of Tyrone Laury.
Prosecutors gave a sweet deal to one of the men who participated in the killing of Tyrone Laury.
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan: "Long-term prison sentences may very well await" gang members.
Courtesy of AP Wide World Photos
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan: "Long-term prison sentences may very well await" gang members.

Laury's murder "tore me up," says his sister-in-law, Tessie Ester, an environmental activist and president of the local tenants' association. His sister, Barbara Bell, says,"It's still painful — losing my little brother. I feel very hurt." Bell is troubled by the deal prosecutors made with Jones. "I don't think that's right. How are you going to give him immunity for killing somebody?"

There's another thing that disturbs folks here on the hill: Little has changed in the years since SFPD and feds swept through and cuffed Stepney, Mathews, and all the others. Despite all the time and money the task force invested in the Big Block and Westmob cases, bullets are still zinging through the projects on a regular basis as the feud — or echoes of it — grinds on. One recent victim was Laury's son, Tyrone Laury Jr., 14, who goes by the nickname "Lil' Bump." An unknown assailant blasted Laury Jr. one afternoon this spring as he stood on a graffitied stretch of sidewalk near the intersection of Middlepoint and Hare Street. The bullet tore through Laury Jr.'s torso, shredding his intestines, before punching a hole in his arm, according to the boy's mother, who asked that her name not be used in this story because she fears for her life. Thanks to five surgeries, her son survived but is now reliant on a colostomy bag.

Ester is thoroughly disenchanted. The anti-gang strategies of the feds and SFPD "aren't solving nothing. If they can pick up the dope dealers, then they can pick up the shooters with the guns. The police here are useless." She speaks while standing on a Hunters Point street corner, and as she talks an unmarked police car, a jet-black Ford Crown Victoria, rolls by.

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