OPEN LETTER: Update on Sho Funai Case

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(Editor’s note: The following was written by Daisuke Funai, whose 23-year-old brother Sho was killed by a hit-and-run driver in San Diego last March. The driver, Nikolette Gallo, is scheduled for sentencing this month. Family and friends of Sho Funai, a graduate of Palos Verdes High School and UC San Diego, are upset that Gallo was not charged with DUI or vehicular manslaughter, and have organized an online petition drive calling on the judge to give her more than just probation. As of July 16, more than 10,000 people have signed.)

Sho Funai (June 29, 1988 - March 11, 2012)

Hello, everyone. We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. The outpouring of support has really been moving, as we’ve seen people from all walks of life and from all over the world take a moment to express their solidarity. A Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) representative has written to me:

“It’s incredible the attention your petition is getting. It’s growing like wildfire! I spoke to a gentleman from the LA. … He doesn’t know you or your family but someone sent the petition to him. He was so moved by it, he called our national office …

“In my 23-plus years with MADD, I’ve never seen such an outpouring of support and action on a case.”

We couldn’t have done this without you. This movement is not about ideology or vengeance; it’s a testament to the lives that Sho touched and the injustice of it all. We ask for a few more weeks of your patience and help until we face the sentencing date on July 26. There are a few things left to do.

The number of signatures on the petition has been growing every day … Anything you can do to make a last push for signatures — especially from people in California — would be greatly appreciated. People can sign the petition all the way up to the sentencing date, but we’d like to have as many in as possible by 24 July. I will be mailing the judge the petition with all of the signatures as well as bringing a hard copy with me to sentencing …

The movement has gained some traction with local media. Thank you to those who have shared my letter and reached out. If you know anyone at papers or TV stations in Southern California, please feel free to share the petition information. We want the judge to be reminded of this, as often as possible.

Finally, for those of you in Southern California, please consider joining us for the sentencing on July 26 in San Diego. Several of Sho’s friends have already informed me that they are planning on attending, and a few volunteers have been moved to organize a bus from Los Angeles. For now, the bus is scheduled to leave L.A. around 9 a.m. and return around 5 p.m.

The times are tentative, and we do not have control over any changes, which are apparently not uncommon and at the whim of the judge. We should be able to confirm date and time closer to the sentencing. For now, please save the date and let me know via email ([email protected]) if you are interested in taking the bus.

Again, thanks for everything. We’re forever indebted to your kindness, and I know Sho would be overwhelmed by your love and support.

(The petition can be viewed here.)

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