PICTURED: Misael Sanchez’s father Guadalupe Sanchez speaks at news conference. Photo by Alex Wilson

by Alex Wilson
awilson@timespublications.com

Misael Sanchez deserves justice.

His family shared that message at a July 28 news conference regarding his tragic death. Sanchez died 15 days after a fight that took place during an adult-league soccer game at Oxnard High School, 3400 West Gonzales Road, on July 10.

Misael Sanchez and his family. Photo submitted

The 29-year-old Port Hueneme man was the first in his family to attend a university, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Northridge. At the time of his death, Sanchez was working as a biomedical scientist and nearing completion of a doctorate, family members said.

But his promising future was cut short. His father, Guadalupe Sanchez, made an impassioned plea for justice, standing before TV cameras outside Ventura law office Bamieh & De Smeth.

“My son didn’t deserve this. He had many dreams to accomplish and his whole life ahead of him. Misael’s death was not an accident,” the grieving father said through a Spanish interpreter. 

Cousin Eric Ambriz said Sanchez grew up playing soccer, one of the biggest joys in his life. 

“His life was ended with something he truly loved and cherished,” Ambriz said while backed by dozens of supporters. 

Family members believe someone has video of the July 10 fight that can shed light on what happened.

Guadalupe Sanchez speaking at news conference. Photo by Alex Wilson

On Aug. 1, Oxnard Police Comdr. Alex Arnett told the Ventura County Reporter that detectives have only received two videos so far. “But nothing that captures the actual fight itself. It’s not helpful at all.”

According to Arnett, a referee’s call at the soccer match led to a fight between players, with spectators also rushing the field. Sanchez collapsed to the ground and was unresponsive. He was rushed by ambulance to Ventura County Medical Center but never regained consciousness before dying on July 25.

Arnett described the fight as a “melee” involving more than two dozen players and spectators.

“We think that the video, along with witness statements, will help us put the pieces of the puzzle together and help us determine how this young man died,” said Arnett, adding that the medical examiner’s office is still working to pinpoint the cause of death.

One suspect was arrested the day of the fight, but was released the following day because there was not enough evidence to file charges.

Arnett said it’s difficult to say how many people may be criminally liable. “It could have been one to two people that were assaulting the victim or it could have been upwards of five to seven people. We just don’t know.”

Attorney Danielle De Smeth is leading a separate civil investigation involving possible legal action against soccer league La Nueva Liga Oxnard 805, which did not respond to messages from the Ventura County Reporter. De Smeth spoke at the news conference about previous fights at games organized by the league at Oxnard High School. 

“Were repeatedly aggressive players properly sanctioned and removed from play as other leagues commonly do?” De Smeth asked. “If not, then we must ask if the league was living up to its obligation to fairly enforce the rules and protect players.”

Arnett said also that videos of the incident can be uploaded anonymously at https://oxnardpd.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/oxnardhighsoccer.