Domestic violence victim’s words inspiring a movement a decade after her death

Tammy Ramirez was killed on December 3, 2012.

SAN ANTONIO – Every year, the San Antonio Police Department responds to thousands of family violence calls.

It’s a crime that officers are taking seriously.

This year, SAPD is launching a new campaign reading from the journal of a woman who documented the violence she experienced in her relationship before she was killed by her partner in 2012.

“When he gets mad, he starts to put me down. My ear was bruised real good for about a week,” an unnamed officer read from the journal of Tammy Ramirez.

“It was the first time that I found out what he really did to my daughter. And that was very, very painful to hear,” Lydia De La Zerda, Tammy’s mom, said when she watched SAPD’s first of three videos.

“I couldn’t believe that was what my mom was going through,” Kayla De La Zerda, Tammy’s daughter, added.

Hearing Tammy Ramirez’s words read over a decade after her death is painful for her mother and daughters to take in.

“He was screaming at her, and I hated it. I wanted my mom to get out,” Krista De La Zerda, Tammy’s daughter, said.

Kayla and Krista are older now, but the girls were there on that December day back in 2012. The memories are still haunting to them.

“The next thing I know, I’m running to her and telling her to wake up, and she’s not waking up,” Kayla said.

The 25-year-old mother of three was shot and killed in front of her own family by her partner of eight months, Jonathan Garcia. He’s currently serving a 35-year sentence.

“I told her right away, This man is not right for you. This man is going to kill you, Tammy,” Lydia said.

Tammy wrote down what she was experiencing in the days leading up to her death. Now, officers with SAPD are reading her words to encourage others to speak up.

Capt. Rene Gallegos is a commander of the Special Victims Unit.

“Combination of reasons why domestic violence continues to be a problem in our city of San Antonio,” Gallegos said.

Last year, SAPD responded to 39,370 calls for family violence. This year, there’s been 28,525 calls.

“Family violence doesn’t discriminate. You’ll catch it in all parts of town. You’ll catch it on all socioeconomic backgrounds,” Gallegos said.

They’re crimes with nuance. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to SAPD’s response.

Gallegos said what is consistent is their victim’s first approach.

“Make sure they get the resources needed to go beyond the criminal charges and to get the help they need, whether it’s counseling for themselves or their kids,” he said.

Tammy’s family hopes someone else can be saved by posthumously sharing her words.

“If you want out, call for help. There’s hope out there, but you need to take the first step,” Lydia said.

“If they don’t, they’re never going to get out of the situation, and something worse can happen to them, like what happened to my mom, and I don’t want that to happen to anybody else’s mom,” Krista added.

You can watch the entire SAPD Domestic Violence campaign here.

The department and Metro Health’s violence prevention program are hosting an open house next Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at SAPD substations to answer questions about family violence cases, safety planning, and more.

“I think that’s the biggest thing. We want people to know our doors are open, and we do care, and we want to make a difference in our community,” Captain Gallegos said.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.