"Justice for Our Communities! Families Organizing to Resist Police Brutality and Abuse"
Republican Party leader Rand Paul says “If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.” (2013-04-24 "Rand Paul flip-flops, says drone strikes on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil without charge or trial are okay" by Madison Ruppert from "Activist Post" [link])
Anita Wills: "We need to open our eyes and realize that the State of California is sanctioning these killings. They are responsible for the law that gives Police Immunity when they kill our young men. The Police have a mandate from the State to carry out these lynchings, and we need to start focusing on them."
Victims of extra-judicial executions in Sonoma County since 2000 [link]
Justice for Yanira Serrano! (d.2014-06-03, Half Moon Bay) [link]
Justice for Jared Huey! (Vallejo) [link]
Justice for Alejandro Nieto! (d. 2014-03-21; San Francisco) [link]
Justice for Josiah (Antonio Lopez Guzman)! (d. 2014-02-21; San Jose) [link]
Justice for Andy Lopez Cruz! (d. 2013-10-22; Santa Rosa) [link]
Justice for Guy Jarreau, jr.! (d.2010-12-11; Vallejo) [link]
Justice for Mario Romero (d.2012-09-03; Vallejo) [link]
Justice for Anton Barrett sr.! (d.2012-05-27; Vallejo)
Justice for Kenneth Harding, jr. (d.2011-07-16; Bayview/Hunter's Point) [link]
Justice for Manuel Diaz (Anaheim, d. 2012-07-21) [link]
Justice for Kerry Baxter Jr.
Justice for Alan Blueford
Justice for Derrick Gaines! (d.2012-06-05; South San Francisco)
Justice for Oscar Grant III! (d.2009-01-01; Fruitvale BART) [link]
Justice for Derrick Jones (d.2010-11-08; Oakland)
Justice for Raheim Brown jr.! [link]
Justice for Luis Gutierrez (d.2009-04-30)
Justice for Ernesto Duenez (Modesto)
Justice for James Rivera jr. [link]
Justice for LaMarr R. Alexander Sr. (d.2006-04-11; Elk Grove) [link]
Justice for Aloni, innocent victim of police torture (Los Angeles, 2013-03) [link]
Justice for Joey Pinasco
Justice for Austin Sarna
Justice for Kayla Moore!
Justice for Derrick Jones! (d. 11/8 by OPD)
Justice for Asa Sullivan (d. 2006-06-07, San Francisco) [link]
let us not forget about Martin Flenaugh, Matt Cicelski, 19-year-old Obataiye Edwards (murdered 12/20 by OPD), or Ted Collins (murdered 7/18/10 by BART police).
More info about the State security agencies targeting Black Community Leadership: [link]
Hands off Ghetto Prophet, target of State kidnapping for his political activities [link]
Hands off Prince (Hasheem Bason)! Targeted for his political activity
Hands off Fly Benzo! Targeted for his political activity [link], and Justice for Tommy Carpenter! [link]
Hands Off Kilo G.! Targeted for his community organizing
Supporters of Police Violence also advocate against Human Rights [northbayuprising.blogspot.com/2012/06/supporters-of-police-are-oftentimes.html]
2012-09-04 "Private tech companies pitch Web surveillance tools to police"
18 USC § 242 - Deprivation of rights under color of law
Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
By Cyndi Mitchell , May 1st, 2013
If we are fighting the same fight then why are we feuding?
Claiming to stand for justice while actions are deluding
If we are fighting the same fight why are you not supporting
Pumping a fake militant fist while secretly thwarting
Why can’t you understand that this fight is much bigger than you
We don’t claim to know your story or what you’ve been through
Many of us are suffering from having a loved ones life stolen
While people are laughing and flaunting around egos that are swollen
Creating distractions amongst those who fight
Selective prejudice on your people and that just aint right
Maybe it’s not in your hands because you have given your voice away
If you refuse to speak up don’t silence what the next man has to say
Afraid of coming off to bold while creating unnecessary political hurdles
These MxxxxaFxxxas wasen’t thinking about respect when your son was murdered
It didn’t matter what type of life he was leading
when corrupt badges hunted him down and stopped him from breathing
he wasn’t the only good kid killed unjustly and he won’t be the last
as long as unity is stagnant and we don’t act fast
Why should we be peaceful when we are under attack
These pigs are killing everyone , mostly the brown and the black
We have the right to be upset and stand our ground
Don’t say your fighting for equality while putting your brother down
What happened to adults agreeing to disagree
You don’t have to like what I’m saying but you gotta respect me
Children hum over things that they don’t understand
If my message needs clarification just ask like man
Why are we respecting those who are killing us?
Fake justifications for murder and were still supposed to trust?
What kind of sense does that make? It makes none to me.
The attack on us is so bold a blind man can see.
Martin and Malcolm had dreams that we all share today
Oscar, Travon and Mario Romero had dreams that were taken away
So many lives stolen without a second thought
An artillery of guns brought to a fight that only one fighter fought
Hands raised in surrender completely ignored by the hunger for blood by the good ole boys
While we shed tears of sorrow , uncertain about our tomorrows
Many lives our stolen and illegally borrowed
We must stick together and reduce our distractions
We are fighting a war on corruption and it’s time to spring into action
2013-01-10 memorial painting by Shannell Roberts:
Guy Jarreau, jr., Mario Romero, Jared Huey... all victims of Vallejo PD, R.I.P.
"STRANGE FRUIT of California" by Anita Wills[http://strangefruitcalifornia.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html]:
Note: This site is dedicated to the memory of my Grandson, Kerry Baxter Junior, who was murdered on January 16, 2011. He was nineteen years old and murdered under suspicious circumstances. The Oakland Police Department is not interested in solving these murders and in some instances may be involved. Kerry was Nineteen years old, and I know the pain that the families are going through. They cannot make this right! It is not just the killings but incarceration which is taking the males out of our neighborhoods. Young people are the life blood of any community and their deaths leave a vacuum that cannot be filled. The community needs to wake up and shake off the apathy, or there will be no one left to care.
Kerry Baxter Junior in Malcolm X Pose -
There is an epidemic going on in the African American Community, one in which Police are the Culprit. It is the killing of young men by the Police, who are sworn to Protect and Serve. This is a Blog about young African American Males who were killed by Police in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Blog is dedicated to the Author, Anita Wills, Grandson, Kerry Baxter Junior who was shot and killed on January 16, 2011.
A Look at the Twenty-First Century Lynchings of African American Males -
Most of us associate the word Lynching with the Klu Klux Klan and White Militia. We see a black body swinging from a tree and think about Billy Holiday singing, Strange Fruit. There was a spike in lynchings, after the Civil War, when newly freed slaves were set up on by mobs of whites. They were beat, tortured, and mutilated and sometimes burned alive. The most typical lynching was one in which the body was hung from a tree. There were in fact lynching's throughout America before and after the Civil War. There is even a city in Virginia named Lynchburg.
In the past Lynchings were attended by crowds of whites, some of whom posed at the site with their children. Now we are in the twenty-first Century, have an African American President, but little has changed. Today's lynchings are primarily of young black males, throughout America. It is an epidemic of killings by white Police Officers, which has left the community depressed and afraid. The community is caught in the middle of armed thugs and racist policies that allow Police to shoot and kill with impunity. Not only are they afraid of a young black man with a gun, they are afraid of the Police. The latest killing of Kenneth Harding by the San Francisco Police brought up the image of, "Strange Fruit", which Billy Holiday sang so well.
“Lynching is the practice whereby a mob--usually several dozen or several hundred persons--takes the law into its own hands in order to injure and kill a person accused of some wrongdoing. The alleged offense can range from a serious crime like theft or murder to a mere violation of local customs and sensibilities. The issue of the victim's guilt is usually secondary, since the mob serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Due process yields to momentary passions and expedient objectives.”
When Lynching came to fruition in America, there was little distinction between black men and women. Just as slave women worked beside the men in fields and were whipped like men, they too were subject to Lynching. Frederick Douglass spoke extensively on the methods used against slaves to control them. The goal was to psychologically break them down until there was no resistance to the Authority of the Master.
In an article written by William S. Mcfeely titled, Capital Cases: A Legacy of Slavery and Lynching: The Death Penalty as a Tool of Social Control; Frederick Douglass pens his feeling about witnessing the shooting of a slave named Demby.
According to Mcfeely; “Slavery in the United States was an immensely complex system. Crucial to its maintenance was the threat, often carried out, of the pain of the whip, the anguish of forced separations by sale, and the finality of death. Frederick Douglass recalled from his childhood the shooting of a slave named Demby by Austin Gore, an overseer on the huge farm on which Douglass (Frederick Bailey), lived.”
Douglass describes the scene of Gore taking up a whip:
"He had given Demby but few stripes, when to get rid of the scourging, he [Demby] plunged himself into a creek, and stood there at the depth of his shoulders, refusing to come out. Mr. Gore told him that he would give him three calls, and that, if he did not come out at the third call, he would shoot him. The first call was given. Demby made no response, but stood his ground. The second and third calls were given with the same result. Mr. Gore then . . . raised his musket to his face . . ., taking deadly aim . . ., and in an instant poor Demby was no more. His mangled body sank out of sight, and blood and brains marked the water where he had stood." 1
Demby was killed in full view of the other slaves, as a means of instilling fear and terror, and as a means of control. The killings of African American males like Ramerley Graham and Trayvon Martin, bring up those images. Ramerley was killed by Police in New York, who busted into his apartment and killed him in front of his family members. Trayvon's killing was glossed over by Police who refused to arrest George Zimmerman, his assailant.
Although slavery has long been abolished, the tactics are the same and the impression left on those who witness the killings is a psychological wound that may never heal. Here in the Bay Area, on New Years Eve of 2009, a young black man, Oscar Grant was shot and killed in full view of passengers who were riding BART. After killing Grant, the Police scrambled to collect cell phones and cameras from Passengers riding the train. The footage from those cameras told the story and resulted in the sentence of Officer Johannes Mesherle. For the murder of this young man, he served less than two years in prison.
Murder Most Foul -
It is interesting to note how careful the police are in approaching and arresting white males who actually have committed crimes. In the case of Hans Reiser, a forty-two year old white male. He admitted to beating and killing his wife, thirty-one year-old Nina Reiser, at his home in the Oakland hills on Sept. 3, 2006. He remained free for two years after his wife disappeared, as Police searched for clues of her whereabouts. It turns out that she was buried in the Oakland Hills, not too far from the home of Reisers mother.
After being offered a deal by the District Attorney, which does not include any strikes, or the death penalty, he led Police to the body. Not one shot was fired when Police were investigating the brutal murder of Nina Reiser. He was free to go about his life and possibly even kill his children, who he had in his custody. He received a sweet heart deal from the District Attorney's office of fifteen years to life. His life is of value because he is, after all, a White Male, and he could be out in as little as ten years. There are few young males of Color who receive deals like that in California Courts. What is of note is African American Males who have been killed by Police have, by and large committed no crimes.
Another noted Murderer is Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six and injured thirteen on January 8, 2011. He was the shooter of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D.Ariz). He was taken by Police without one shot fired, and he did it. He took a plea and received Life in Prison, thus sparing himself the Death Penalty . Troy Davis, and African American Male, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, could have used the mercy shown Loughner. Even after murdering a nine year old, Loughners rights were fully protected. He received Justice, a fair trial and his Constitutional Rights were not violated.
Police Killings of African American Males in the San Francisco Bay Area
Raheim Brown -
On January 22, 2011, Oakland Unified School District Officers, accosted and shot Twenty- year old Raheim Brown in the face and body. Although not a Policeman, the officers were armed and patrolling the area around Skyline High School. Raheim and his girlfriend were parked up the street from the High School, when confronted by the District Officers. One of the Officers reached across Raheims girlfriend and shot him three times, in the chest and head. They then beat his girlfriend so severely she was hospitalized and is still traumatized. Raheim was later accused of pointing a screwdriver at the Officers, while he and his girlfriend sat in the car. No action by Raheim Brown warranted his murder by these School Patrol Officers. Yet, no charges were filed against either officer and Batt is often assigned to demonstrations in which Raheims family are participants. The family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Oakland Unified School District. Oakland Unified School District Officers, accosted and shot
Kenneth Harding -
Kenneth Harding, a nineteen-year old African American male, was killed in full view of the residents of Hunter’s Point in San Francisco California, on July 16, 2011. He was shot in the neck and Officers administered no first aid and did not allow to assist him, as he lay dying. In fact the Officer stood and watched as he died. His crime was not showing Officers a $2.00 Muni bus pass and running. The Officers vilified Kenneth and his family, who at the time lived in Washington State. They stated that Kenneth was wanted on a rape charge and had a criminal history. What technology do those officers have that tells them someone has a record? So it is okay to use someone who has a record for target practice? I have gotten on Muni many times and been waived to the back because one or the other machine was down. Muni is not going to go broke from someone avoiding a $2.00 fare.
Danica Chatman, the mother of 19-year-old Kenneth Harding, has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that her son's civil rights were violated and that he didn't get proper medical care.
Alan Blueford -
Just after midnight on Saturday May 6th, Alan Blueford and two of his friends were waiting for some girls to pick them up on 90th Ave., in East Oakland. Alan and his friends were discussing the Floyd Mayweather fight. He spoke to his parents to let them know his whereabouts. Not long afterwards a car pulled up to them with its lights off, and Alan ran. Officer Miguel Masso gave chase and a few blocks later shot Alan, who was laying on the ground face down. After shooting Alan, the Officer also shot himself in the foot. Over a dozen witnesses said that Alan had no weapon and posed no threat to the officer. This Officer is now on PAID Administrative Leave, while the case is being investigated. This is common in most Police involved Shootings. There is no curfew in Oakland, no Gang initiative, and no real reason to approach these young men, other than their race.
According to the coroners report Alan was shot while laying on the ground. Why would Officer Masso shoot this young man, while he was in the surrender position? The Police would not administer nor allow anyone else to administer CPR or First Aid as Alan lay dying. The Police changed their story to the family and the media several times in the days after the shooting. The Blueford Family are fighting back and have formed a, "Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition."
The Blueford family and the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition are demanding:
* Officer Miguel Masso be fired and charged with Alan’s murder.
* OPD Chief Howard Jordan be held accountable for lying to the Blueford family.
* An end to stop-and-frisk and other police practices of racial profiling.
* The repeal of the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights, that shields violent cops from prosecution and keeps them on the street.
Contact: Justice for Alan Blueford [firstname.lastname@example.org] or Justice 4 Alan Blueford [email@example.com/];
Website: Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition [justice4alanblueford.org/about]; Justice for Alan Blueford (Facebook) [facebook.com/groups/justice4AlanBlueford]
Derrick Gaines -
On July 20, 2012, Officer Joshua Cabillo shot Derrick Gaines as he was running away. The bullet went through the teenagers neck, but may have been meant for his skull. We know that he was not aiming for his legs, buttocks, or torso. This was a kill shot one that ended the life of Derrick Gaines. He will not face criminal charges for shooting Derrick Gaines. After all it was in the, Line of Duty, although he left out the part about, Protecting and Serving. Derrick Gaines was not robbing anyone or assaulting anyone, in fact he was walking with some friends. Most young people are told to travel with friends as it is dangerous to go out alone.
Derrick and his friends were at an Arco gas station at Westborough and Gellert boulevards, in south San Francisco. Since the victim is deceased there is no one to testify on his behalf. His death has stirred tensions in South San Francisco, with friends, family and supporters of the teen questioning whether the boy was targeted by police because he was black. His family has retained attorney John Burris, known for filing police misconduct lawsuits in high-profile cases. "What resulted in this poor decision was the loss of a life. There is, however sufficient evidence to show that Gaines was not armed, nor pointing a weapon at police. The family is now being represented by Oakland Attorney John Burris.
Mario Romero -
Mario Romero was shot numerous times by Vallejo Police Officers while sitting in his car with his friend Joseph Johnson. The incident took place on September 2, 2012 in North Vallejo (California), about 4:30 am. Police contend that when they approached the car, Romero reached for a gun in his waistband. However, Johnson stated that Mario was shot in the chest and slumped over almost immediately. He had no time to reach for anything during the ambush by Police. The Police later identified the weapon as a pellet gun, a fact which family members dispute.
His sister witnessed the entire assault and stated that the Police stood on the hood of the car and reloaded before continuing to shoot. Johnson stated that Mario's body took the bullets that were aimed at him. He believes that the Police were trying to kill him but instead riddled the dead body of Mario with bullets. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the daughter and family members of Mario and Joseph Johnson.
Civil Rights Attorney John Burris had this to say:
"There is no curfew in Vallejo and it is not illegal for citizens to sit in their car." Mayor, Osby Davis, said he will ask the City Council to call on state Attorney General. Kamala Harris to conduct an independent investigation of Romero's case.
Romero's mother, Cynthia Mitchell, is represented by another Oakland-based attorney George Holland. He also is president of the Oakland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "What happened to Romero can happen again," Holland said. "Young men in Vallejo are living in fear."
"We believe that this issue is a large part of a bigger issue in Vallejo," Burris said. "There's a systematic problem in the department, not just in this one case."
[Romero's was the the fifth Vallejo officer-involved shooting death since May 25 (2012). All of those killed by Vallejo Police were African American Males. ]
"It is an astronomical number for a city the size of Vallejo. It is not illegal to sit in your car at 4:30 am, I call it Racial Profiling."
Oakland Police Department - Knight Riders -
The Knight Riders were a group of Oakland Police Officers accused of terrorizing African American males mostly in West Oakland. The Media seems to side with Officers by stating that the Officers assigned to patrols in West Oakland, only harassed street-corner drug dealers. In fact they were accused of beating and kidnapping suspects, as well as falsely arresting innocent people. They covered their tracks by filing false police reports and obstructing justice by lying about their actions.
It was a rookie cop who blew the whistle on his the Gang of Four. The officers -- Clarence "Chuck" Mabanag, 36; Matt Honung, 30; Jude Siapno, 33; and Francisco "Choker" Vazquez, 45 -- were fired after an internal investigation led to misconduct charges. The alleged ring-leader, Vazquez, is a fugitive and apparently fled the country nearly two years ago. They were a mixture of Hispanic and Asian Officers assigned to a predominately African American Neighborhood. The four were named in a series of 17 civil rights lawsuits involving about 115 people that they had arrested. The city of Oakland agreed to a multimillion- dollar settlement that could resulted in structural changes within the Oakland Police Department. However, none of these changes have made a difference in the treatment of those who were shot and killed by Oakland Police Officers, since the s0-called Settlement.
A Jury of majority whites from outside of Oakland acquitted the Officers of most of the charges. This is typical in so-called Liberal California, that Suburban Whites are used to sway a jury.
In Conclusion -
There is an epidemic of Police Shootings of African American Males throughout America. This is not to diminish the Black on Black Crime which is also prevalent. The police are not our friends and not here to protect us, no matter how much taxes we pay. We are paying our own abusers, those who actually believe they can circumvent the law. So far they are able to kill our young men at will and walk away. Most attorneys will not take cases against the Police, as they know the Courts are not sympathetic.
The Politicians, Courts, DA's, and Media back the Police up when it comes to the killing of African American Males. The fact that the Police are killing young men for no other reason than they look suspicious is cause for concern. Looking suspicious is highly subjective and requires profiling. In order to profile someone you should be unbiased in your assessment. In these cases the Police are profiling a African American Males and becoming Judge, Jury, and executioner. Maybe the Police should just Protect and Serve, the job they are hired to do.
In order to combat the killings we need community involvement and a Police Department that knows and respects our community. They Police have no respect in our community and are seen as an occupying force. It is no different then the White Militia who patrolled our community and killed at will after the Civil War and during the Jim Crow Era. Right now it is taxation without Representation. We are paying people to abuse and disrespect us in our own community. The solution is to have our own and Police Our Own.
Partial Roll Call for Strange Fruit in the San Francisco Bay Area
* September 2, 2012 - Mario Romero, Twenty-three years old, shot by Vallejo Police while sitting in a parked car.
* June 5, 2012 -Derrick Gaines, Fifteen Years Old Shot by Police in South San Francisco
* May 6, 2012 - Alan Blueford, Seventeen Years old, Shot by Officer Miguel Masso in Oakland CA
* September 25, 2011 - Arthur Raleigh witnesses say he was shot by Police while his hands were in the air. Although only one Officer was identified witnesses state there were three officers, including one who stepped on the victim while he was laying on the ground bleeding. The Police were identified as either white or light skinned Hispanics.
* July 16, 2011 – Kenneth Harding, Nineteen years old, shot by MUNI Police Officers over a Seventy-five cents fare, in San Francisco CA
January 22, 2011 - Raheim Brown, Twenty-years old, shot and killed by Oakland Unified School District’s police Force, Oakland CA
* July 22, 2010 - James Rivera, Sixteen Years Old, shot and killed by Stockton Sheriff Deputy's (over 30 rounds fired into his body), Stockton CA
* November 8, 2010 - Derrick Jones, thirty-seven years old, shot and killed by Oakland Police, Oakland CA
* January 1, 2009 - Oscar Grant, Twenty-Two years old; shot and killed by BART Police Officer, Johannes Mesherle, Oakland CA
All of the young men featured here, besides being African American, were killed by Police Action and vilified by the media. It appears that these young men were targeted because of their race and status. It is interesting that the media and courts will consider the mental health of white males who kill, even those who are privileged, but not African American males living in Urban Areas. It would seem that their mental health would be considered more so than white males. They suffer from unemployment, poor schools, lack of opportunities, broken homes etc., it should be a no brainer.
There are Rogue Police Officers, who are killing our children for sport, and bragging about it with their brother Officers. The song Billy Holiday sang about, Strange Fruit is as relevant as it was in 1929. Not only are the victims, "Strange Fruit", so are those who prey on them, Police, Courts, Politicians, and a Community that sits idly by…, Strange Fruit Indeed!
Derrick Gaines 15 years old
Raheim Brown 20 years
Oscar Grant 23 years
James Rivera 14 years
Mario Romero and Daughter
2013-05-28 "Killer cop vengeance: Was the OPD killing of Alan Blueford a retaliatory hit?"
by Malaika H Kambon [sfbayview.com/2013/killer-cop-vengeance-was-the-opd-killing-of-alan-blueford-a-retaliatory-hit/]:
Malaika H Kambon is a freelance photojournalist and the 2011 winner of the Bay Area Black Journalists Association Luci S. Williams Houston Scholarship in Photojournalism. She also won the AAU state and national championship in Tae Kwon Do from 2007-2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Blueford family and the Justice 4 Alan Blueford coalition held a vigil for Alan on the one-year anniversary of his murder by Oakland police officer Miguel Masso. For more information about what happened to Alan, go to [www.justice4alanblueford.org]. Chalkupy art by Fresh Juice Party: [www.FreshJuiceParty.org]. – Video: Mollie Costello [youtube.com/watch?v=56wbc3zhwF8]
Oddly enough, Floyd “Money” Mayweather fought and defeated Robert Guerrero on May 4, 2013, just one day prior to the candlelight vigil and community memorial organized by JAB, the Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition, in loving memory of Alan Dwayne Blueford.
May 6, 2013, is the one-year anniversary of Alan’s murder by OPD Officer Miguel Masso. The candlelight march and memorial began at the park known as Sunnyside, deep in the East Oakland community. Marchers left the park, turned down 94th Avenue, turned again down Birch Street and stopped in the driveway of 9230 Birch, where Alan was murdered.
This time last year, just after midnight on May 6, 2012, Alan Dwayne Blueford and two of his friends were awaiting a ride on 90th Avenue when they were racially profiled, terrorized, chased and assaulted by the OPD. Alan was summarily executed.
Alan had just spoken with his parents. He and his friends had all watched the same Floyd “Money” Mayweather score a victory over then WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on the previous evening.
Alan and his friends were just standing on 90th Avenue awaiting a ride from friends when Masso and his partner came oozing by, driving slowly, with their lights off, noiseless – predators in blue, on drive-by-killer silent tires.
Killer cop Miguel Masso did not have his lapel camera on, in violation of OPD policy. What was he trying to hide? And was he trying to ensure that he didn’t end up on video, as killer cop Johannes Mehserle had?
Incidences such as these give credence to the fact that the use of deadly force by police against Black people is not and cannot be attributed to accident or random violence patterns the way the mainstream media would have the public believe.
According to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s updated “Every 36 Hours: Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 120 Black People”: “A human rights crisis confronts Black people in the United States. Since Jan. 1, 2012, police and a much smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes have murdered at least 120 Black women and men. These killings are definitely not accidental or random acts of violence or the work of rogue cops. As we noted in our April 6, 2012, ‘Trayvon Martin Is All of US!‘ report, the use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the United States and woven into the very fabric of the society.”
Therefore, it strains the intelligent analysis of AFRIKAN life to commit to the belief that these extrajudicial killings by police across the country and around the world are “coincidental” or a part of some big unplanned and random series of cosmic mistakes, to be blamed on one “bad cop apple” in a barrel of harried civil servants “just doing their jobs.”
For example, like Enjoli Mixon, many grassroots Haitian people have returned home from work to find the remains of family members decomposing in their living rooms, murdered by the occupying army of U.N. MINUSTAH forces and/or the Haitian National Police. Both are militarized, trained and controlled by the U.S. CIA and/or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
On the evening that Alan Dwayne Blueford was killed, InPDUM (International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement), one of several community organizations based in East Oakland, had organized a Court for Black Justice (CBJ), putting the OPD on trial.
This is not the first time this particular praxis has occurred. It has its genesis in the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, who developed the community awareness strategies of watching and intervening in police attacks against the Black community. Huey P. Newton, law book in hand, routinely addressed and prevented acts of police brutality by being informed of and able to quote state law governing police conduct.
Tribunals were held in which the Black Panther Party for Self Defense could speak to the community and the community could speak in return. One such instance was enacted in the film, “The Murder of Fred Hampton,” with a courtroom scene in which the people got to ask relevant questions and “put the pig on trial.”
At the InPDUM Court for Black Justice, surviving relatives of family members murdered by police in San Francisco, Oakland and elsewhere in the Bay Area, testified about the killing of their relatives and the aftermath of police harassment in their continued fight for justice.
Enjoli Mixon told of how her brother was slain in her house and of the subsequent police harassment she, her family and the immediate community faced [uhurusummerproject.org/emails/2012_summerproject02.html]. Lovelle Mixon was a young Black man who chose to fight an alleged third strike parole violation by killing four Oakland police officers and escaping rather than become interred in the U.S. prison industrial complex slavocracy for life.
She spoke of how he might possibly have escaped with his life, had his hiding place not been revealed to police by a neighbor.
MXGM addresses this aspect too, within the context of mainstream media’s actions. They point out that within the first six months of 2012, every 36 hours one Black person in the U.S. was executed: “The corporate media have given very little attention to these extrajudicial killings. We call them ‘extrajudicial’ because they happen without trial or any due process, against all international law and human rights conventions. Those few mainstream media outlets that mention the epidemic of killings have been and are unwilling to acknowledge that the killings are systemic – meaning they are embedded in institutional racism and national oppression. On the contrary, nearly all of the mainstream media join in a chorus that sings the praises of the police and read from the same script that denounces the alleged ‘thuggery’ of the deceased. Sadly, too many people believe the police version of events and the media’s ‘blame-the-victim’ narratives that justify and support these extrajudicial killings.”
According to Mixon’s family, he was shot over 87 times and his body was so improperly preserved that his skin was grey and peeling and his casket could not be closed (during the funeral service) because the resultant odor of decomposition would have been worse. This fact, coupled with the city’s refusal to release the body to the family until it began decomposing, was a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and caused more deliberate trauma. Thus, the brutalization that Lovelle Mixon underwent at the hands of the OPD – even after death – was visible at his funeral.
But according to his sister Enjoli, Lavelle died with a smile on his face.
Was it coincidence that Mixon was killed within months of the brutal murder of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III? This reporter thinks not.
Oscar Grant was tortured and then shot at point blank range on the Fruitvale station BART platform in front of thousands of witnesses who saw and video recorded the crime. The police tried to take hundreds of peoples’ cell phones, but a few escaped them.
Killer cop Johannes Mehserle was allowed to “run for the hills,” fleeing the state to Las Vegas, Nevada, after his part in the torture and lynching of Grant. He apparently thought that he should be allowed to just walk away from a crime scene by stating that it was all an accident.
He thought for some reason that he should not be held accountable for his crimes. Only the power of the people uprising forced his extradition, trial and conviction, albeit on a lesser charge than murder. He is the only police officer in Alameda County history to be prosecuted for his crimes, although his “sentence” was a travesty and no justice for Oscar Grant’s family.
Mehserle received a mere slap on the wrist, an involuntary manslaughter verdict – as though there was no gun used in the case! – from a Los Angeles judge who maintained that “race wasn’t an issue”! Mehserle was given credit for time served and released after said “credit” was applied to his very flimsy sentence.
The people took to the streets continually five times in support of the family of Oscar Grant and against police violence and murder.
Then there is the case of Kenneth Wayne Harding Jr., who was shot multiple times in the neck and back by the SFPD for an alleged $2 light rail fare evasion. He was then denied medical help and forced to bleed out and die in broad daylight in full view of a horrified Bayview Hunters Point community. This wouldn’t have happened in a white community. His murder was also captured on video that was so graphic You Tube took it off line.
Denika Chatman, Harding’s mother, has spoken out and continues to speak out, educate, organize, wake up communities about her son’s murder and the aftermath of harassment her family has faced in coordinated attacks from both the Seattle and San Francisco police departments.
She is also uniting with other families who have suffered the same senseless tragedies, uniting Black and Brown communities in the understanding that these attacks are not random occurrences.
In the 21st century, this is one of the legacies of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, what slain leader Fred Hampton called “observation and participation,” waking people up and organizing around specific goals. This gets action.
On the evening of May 6, 2013, Oakland police officer Miguel Masso shot himself in the foot after shooting three bullets at half-second intervals at point blank range into Alan Dwayne Blueford as he lay on his back on the ground.
Masso was taken immediately to the hospital.
Alan Blueford was left to bleed out for four hours before he was then taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. The OPD did not call the Blueford family. One of Alan’s friends did.
Yet mainstream media faithfully refuses to report that police are killing unarmed members of Black and Brown communities at an ever increasing and alarming rate.
Cops get to “freak out” and kill, as is stated in Masso’s police report. Cops get to “think they see a weapon,” think s/he was reaching for a waistband, shirt and/or jacket pocket, or swear that “a shootout occurred forcing them to act in self-defense or to apprehend” and used deadly force, implying that criminal activity is taking place.
Whatever the excuse, a Black person dies.
Yet, Miguel Masso stated in his report that he “couldn’t think clearly for a minute or two,” before he shot and fatally wounded Alan Blueford.
How is this different from Johannes Mehserle thinking that he could resign from his job, run from the scene of a crime, say it was an accident, and leave the state to avoid prosecution just because he’s a white cop?
What? Masso wasn’t in the moment mentally and Mehserle wasn’t there physically so this makes the murder of innocents OK?
And when their lies are later brought to light, do police agencies admit their crimes? No. And are they prosecuted for their lies and the deaths that they have caused? No.
The truly chilling part is that proving the police lying is no longer considered to be compelling enough evidence to reverse guilty verdicts against Afrikan people and set them free, as has been continually proven in the cases of Mumia Abu-Jamal and other political prisoners and prisoners of war.
And it is certainly not capable of reversing murderous, white supremacist intent and actions and bringing dead loved ones back to life. This is not a Road Runner cartoon on TV.
Troy Anthony Davis was murdered by the state, despite compelling evidence of too much doubt in his conviction. Alan Dwayne Blueford, Oscar Grant III, Kenneth Wade Harding Jr., Ramarley Graham, Raheim Brown, Lovelle Mixon and too many more are gone as well.
This is not a Road Runner cartoon, these were not accidents, and there is no rewind button.
But there does seem to be a replay button because these murders keep happening.
Television plays a big part in this by glorifying what racist and moneyed white moguls erroneously portray as everyday police work. Hollywood’s role is to pump up the volume to persuade the public that everyday police work is composed of nothing but violence in the forms of multiple car and foot chases, beat downs, police retaliations against cop killers, and Wild Wild West, sheriff-bad guy, John Wayne-type shoot outs.
Visual acuity does not match reality. TV cops can go home after being nearly fatally shot or after brutalizing some alleged suspect. The shows’ ratings go up. Everyone is happy. There is no visually exciting police show depicting cops earning those fat calories in donuts from writing police reports all day.
But the reality is that taxi drivers take more risks and are subjected to more dangers and are in a certain sense just as prone to racial profiling, judging by how difficult it is for a Black person to get a cab in San Francisco, and/or to reliably depend upon a cab showing up in certain sections of San Francisco or in Deep East Oakland.
And as we all know, police departments tend to retaliate when any of theirs get scratched or killed – or divulge office secrets.
Note the two cases of ex-cops Frank Serpico and Christopher Dorner.
Whistleblower and ex-NYPD cop Francesco “Frank” Vincent Serpico has nothing on ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner for the seriousness and danger factors in what they both did; i.e. expose police corruption in their respective police departments and cities.
Frank Serpico is still alive and has joined forces with a younger NYPD cop whistleblower, Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, from the same 81st precinct in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, in New York, who is suing the NYPD for $50 million [http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/serpico-assist-whistleblower-suing-nypd-50m-article-1.1255305]. According to a New York Daily News report, Schoolcraft is suing because “police allegedly dragged him off to a mental hospital after he accused them of fudging crime stats.”
“This is the way they do it,” Serpico told the Daily News. “They make you a psycho, and everything you do gets discounted. But I told Adrian just to tell the truth as he knows it and to be himself. When you tell the truth, they can’t do a damn thing to you.”
Frank Serpico survived an assassination attempt, testified before the Knapp Commission in 1971, retired the following year and had a movie made about him starring Al Pacino in 1973. Now he’s about to partner up in a $50 million law suit. But Frank Serpico is a white male.
Christopher Dorner wasn’t so lucky. He is horribly, messily dead. There was no Knapp Commission for him to testify before. He was decorated and Special Forces military and still wasn’t believed. He told the truth. He was fired. He wrote a stirring and precise manifesto about what happened. He, like Nat Turner had decided that enough was enough.
So his own department hunted him down with drones, killed him then burned the body parts in meltdown temperatures to make sure that nothing of him remained because Dorner wrote a manifesto naming names, dates, times and incidences of fellow LAPD officers’ racism and extensive use of excessive force, practices that continue and have escalated to this day.
But then, Christopher Dorner was a Black man. So he’s been labeled a psycho with a “malignant, narcissistic personality disorder” by the publication Business Insider: Law and Order.
So now, when what is alleged to have been the “deadliest day in the history of the Oakland police” occurs, we see a pattern. Yet another pissed off Black man – Lovelle Mixon – but most definitely not a cop, decides that enough is enough and that he will seriously “criticize the unjust with the weapon,” as assassinated Black Panther Party Field Marshall George Jackson stated in his posthumously published book, “Blood in My Eye.”
Logic presumes that PD retaliation will at some point manifest.
Whether Mixon had read George Jackson or not is not the point. The point is that he tweaked the tail of a monster when he made the adult Afrikan decision that he wasn’t going back to being enslaved and entombed in the prison industrial complex for the remainder of his life.
The monster didn’t like that. The monster fears educated, aware Afrikans, male or female. The pig doesn’t like the trial in the streets either. He doesn’t like being outgunned, even temporarily. So he criminalizes, kills and then labels all forms of rebellion as evidence of psychological and pathological derangement in the rebel or the revolutionary.
However, I am sure that Haitian human rights heroes and the grassroots masses have all of their mental faculties, and that such leaders as Fidel Castro are possessed of their mental acuity as well.
Lovelle Mixon is unfortunately now horribly, messily dead. Being that he was shot 87 times, we can presume that the OPD officers who killed him qualified as being enraged as well as “freaked out” – enraged because four of their elite were taken out by a lone Black “rabbit” with a gun and “freaked out” trying to destroy the evidence that they aren’t invincible – or superior. But Lovelle Mixon was not crazy.
Fast forward to Miguel Masso and his summary execution of Alan Dwayne Blueford. According to Justice4AlanBlueford.org, “Masso claimed in his (police) report that he freaked out, perhaps a minute before he shot Alan Blueford, and was unable to hear or think clearly.”
What? He turned off his lapel cam and then shot and killed a young Black man after hunting him down – with his car lights off – in accordance with the tenets of the NYPD’s racist “stop and frisk” procedures, then “freaked out?”
I don’t think so.
The stop-and-frisk program decrees as a given that all Black and Brown men are dangerous, particularly at night – and, it seems, especially if they are doing nothing wrong.
And stop and frisk, as explained by New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelley [http://rt.com/usa/nypd-stop-frisk-targeted-minorities-190/], is a program designed “as a means of instilling fear in young African American and Hispanic men.” Kelly “stated that he targeted and focused on that group because he wanted to instill fear in them that every time they left their homes they could be targeted by police,” said 22-year NYPD veteran and state Sen. Eric Adams.
Johannes Mehserle and his partners racially profiled and harassed Oscar Grant and his friends. He and his partners tortured Oscar Grant physically while hurling racial epithets at all of them. Mehserle drew his Taser, holstered his Taser, drew his gun, killed Oscar Grant, then said, “It was an accident.” Except it wasn’t an accident.
Oscar Grant proved this by photographing his killer’s actions with his cell phone.
Oscar Grant was executed, as was Alan Dwayne Blueford. The difference is that Masso deliberately turned off his lapel cam, which seems to support a premeditated mindset that had something to hide.
If so, then Miguel Masso’s actions make horrible sense. Especially since OPD “consultant” William Bratton, formerly a police chief in New York and in Los Angeles, was recently hired by Oakland’s dysfunctional City Council.
Bratton is big on “aggressive” tactics, of which stop-and-frisk is but one.
Masso’s actions sound more and more like orders – orders for controlled, systemic racism, terrorism and lynching to be practiced by police exclusively against Black and Brown youth to enforce white supremacy.
Particularly in an atmosphere where police departments and city mayors collaborated bi-coastally to smash the Occupy movement, where the power of the people forced a killer cop to trial, and where a lone Afrikan is reputed to have taken out four of Oakland’s elite officers before meeting death at their hands.
It also sounds like cops are realizing that their vaunted technology has bitten them in the ass when a child with a cell phone (Oscar Grant) can photograph a killer cop even as that cop is killing him with impunity. And when the public can also photograph police lynching and have the footage go viral on Vimeo and You Tube within hours, the whole world will have seen the footage multiple times, months before any trial and hours before even the hard copy news comes out. This puts a serious dent in any of several police lies that could be spun by cops to pretend these murders didn’t happen.
Furthermore, did Masso “freak out” while he was helping to torture a defenseless prisoner in a New York City jail cell? No. Was he freaking out while he steadfastly refused said tortured prisoner medical attention? No. These incidents were documented by the New York City Police Department, so his record of brutality was established before he got to Oakland. Why then was he hired and immediately turned loose in East Oakland, where he does not live, if not to commit criminal acts of murder?
And how did the weapon, a Sig Sauer, Model P230, 9mm caliber pistol, alleged to have been fired by Alan Blueford – regardless as to the fact that Blueford had no powder residue on his body, clothes or shoes and no drugs in his system – how did said weapon come to be disassembled and alleged to have been “found” at the scene, hours later, 20 feet or more from where Alan’s body fell?
Who did the gun belong to? No one knows, but the OPD and the press would have the public believe that Alan Blueford was a thug; thus the gun must have belonged to and been fired by him. Blame the victim, exonerate the killer cop, no incriminating video, case closed, says the OPD.
But don’t all cops have at least one “throw away” knife or gun upon their persons at all times? If so, did Masso choose that point in history to “throw away” his throw away gun? And then swear to his partner after the fact, “I swear he had a gun!”
Did Miguel Masso first consult his Officer’s Bill of Rights manual to make sure of the steps he had to take in order to allow him to kill without repercussion, before he went out that night?
Did he then go out, profile and then shoot an innocent youth? Did he plant a gun? And was all of this done before or after his highly trained, albeit lame ass shot himself in the foot?
It has become increasingly obvious that Black people are “without sanctuary” throughout the United States. “Nowhere is a Black woman or man safe from racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance and overriding suspicion. All Black people – regardless of education, class, occupation, behavior or dress – are subject to the whims of the police, whose institutionalized racist policies and procedures require them to arbitrarily stop, frisk, arrest, brutalize and even execute Black people,” says the updated MXGM “Every 36 Hours“ report.
And out of the mouth of NYPD Police Commissioner Kelley comes the proof that the stop-and-frisk program is designed to plant fear in our hearts, by planting fear in the hearts of our children to stop resistance to systemic racism in order to protect the institution of white supremacy.
This is what builds a slavocracy – if the oppressed become accustomed to the jackboots in their breakfast cereal. Yet I can hear the voice of Assata Shakur in filmmaker Gloria Renaldo’s “Eyes of the Rainbow” as she speaks of her grandmother admonishing her, “Don’t you get used to that place, do you hear me?” just before Assata Shakur escaped prison. And I can hear Assata’s response, as she said. “Yes, Grandmother.”
The next day, she escaped. A modern day Harriet Tubman, she hid and ran and lived to fight another day. She is now in exile.
As I watched the very moving ceremony of honor and remembrance for Alan Blueford and listened to Jeralynn Blueford’s heartfelt scream to the heavens before releasing white doves of peace, I thought on these and many more things.
In 2009, I found out about the funeral for Lovelle Mixon about an hour before it occurred, and just managed to get there in time. I distinctly remember that no one was allowed to approach the casket, something that is highly unusual.
Even Emmett Till’s family allowed this process – as badly as Till’s body was brutalized. This is an integral part of Afrikan funerals in this country, a process of saying final personal goodbyes. There is a profundity in the way a civilized people treats their dead.
I now know why no one but the family and the family’s personal photographer was allowed to even approach the first row of seats, much less the casket.
The Justice 4 Alan Blueford Coalition (JAB) has based itself deep within the Afrikan community that birthed it and has brought together many organizations and individuals to fight for justice for Alan and to stop continued police violence.
They’ve organized barbeques to feed the people and to increase community awareness, held multiple press conferences and rallies in downtown Oakland, gone en masse to and shut down at least one of several ineffectual City Council meetings, thoroughly analyzed and discredited the DA’s report entitled, “Investigation of the Shooting Death of Alan Blueford,” sought and received community support from churches, labor unions other community formations and the families from coast to coast who have lost loved ones to police violence; and they are continuing to build a foundation from which to gain support and unity in the fight against police violence.
The trio of Haitian drummers at the memorial, led by Will Bellot, spoke to approximately 150-200 incoming marchers about the necessity – rooted deep in Haitian Voudun culture – of speaking out against injustice. Pastor Lowery and Bishop Mario Gaines of Urojas Community Services spoke prayers to strengthen the Blueford Family, the supporters and all young Black and Brown men and women on the streets who face the obstacles and challenges of racism and staying alive. A moment of silence was observed, as lit candles were placed around a section of sidewalk that was chalked, “In Loving Memory of Alan Dwayne Blueford.”
Jeralynn Blueford spoke briefly, in praise of her son, as she and her husband Adam held the white dove they would release into the sky moments later.
The memorial for 2013 had ended. People gathered, networked, met and forged stronger ties of unity.
No one is showing any signs of giving up.
A luta continua (The struggle continues). All power to the people!
Haitian drummers put a call out to our ancestors as the vigil procession arrives at the site of Alan’s murder by OPD officer Miguel Masso. – Video: Mollie Costello [youtube.com/watch?v=5AMaP99v1HU]
On the first anniversary of the police murder of Alan Blueford, a united community continues to demand the prosecution of killer cop Miguel Masso. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Relatives came from as far away as Tracy, Calif., supporters from as far away as Haiti to demand justice for Alan Blueford now! – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Haitian drummers led by Will Bellot welcomed the incoming marchers, singing and drumming of resistance and calling on the ancestors in honor of Alan Dwayne Blueford in the finest Voudun tradition. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
The community respects Jeralynn Blueford’s call for a moment of silence and observation of prayers by Bishop Mario Gaines and Pastor Lowery of Urojas Community Services for the strength of our young who face danger and death, racial profiling and terrorism in the streets, while trying to survive and grow. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Pierre Labossiere of the Haiti Action Committee and attorney Walter Riley confer with and comfort Jeralynn Blueford, Alan’s mother – three strong leaders building support for Black and Brown youth being targeted by racist police, armed terrorists in blue with a global license to kill. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Marco Scott and Denika Chatman, uncle and mother of Kenneth Harding, who was murdered by San Francisco police for lack of a $2 light rail fare, stand in unity with the Blueford family and human rights attorney Walter Riley. The family of Oscar Grant, murdered by BART police, was there as well. Both Kenny, 19, and Oscar, 22, were slain in front of crowds of people in classic acts of police terrorism. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Jeralynn and Adam Blueford, Alan’s parents, hold a dove they released moments later to the sound of Jeralynn’s agonized scream in a symbolic call for peace with justice. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Candles with messages of power surrounded and, at nightfall, lit the colorful message chalked on the sidewalk where OPD’s Miguel Masso shot Alan Blueford and let him bleed to death. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
A flock of white doves of peace released by the Bluefords filled the evening sky with their grace. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
2013-04-11 "Police-Involved Shootings In Oakland: Ex-Officers Often Investigate Incidents"
by Shoshana Walter from "California Watch" [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/11/police-involved-shootings_n_3065221.html]:
After Oakland police Officer Miguel Masso shot and killed 18-year-old Alan Blueford last May, prosecutors quickly released their investigator’s findings about the incident, amid a public outcry and a protest that shut down a City Council meeting.
The shooting was justified, according to the evidence collected by Michael Foster – a former Oakland police officer [https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682616-oakland-police-department-blueford-press-release.html].
In a city seething with distrust of law enforcement, legal experts and residents are now questioning District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s wisdom in assigning former Oakland police officers to the task.
“I would hope that they would look for somebody not for one side or the other – some impartial person that’s not the police and not a community activist,” said Blueford’s father, Adam Blueford. “The prosecutor just kind of rubber stamps what the police said.”
Foster’s assignment was described as routine. It turns out that the practice of using former police officers to conduct investigations into shootings at their previous departments is widespread, according to a review of police prosecution records by the Center for Investigative Reporting, parent organization of California Watch.
The issue is all the more important now in Oakland, where the beleaguered police department is under court supervision. Last month, a federal judge appointed former Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier to oversee the completion of an almost decadelong civil rights reform effort.
The city has seen two officer-involved shootings so far this month. After a witness mistakenly identified a 16-year-old boy as a robbery suspect, police said they perceived the boy as a threat and shot him in the jaw. Two days later, Oakland officers shot and wounded a burglary suspect who they said was brandishing a fake gun.
Prosecutors said they use former police officers for the investigations because they are best suited for the job, coming with years of training and experience. Other prosecutors and investigators said prior police employment wouldn't necessarily bias the investigation or outcome of a case.
O’Malley, Alameda County’s district attorney, said her office provides a separate but thorough investigation of each fatal officer-involved shooting and dispatches a team that includes an experienced attorney and investigator. The attorney, not the investigator, writes the final report, she said.
As for the Blueford investigation, O’Malley said her office reviewed all available evidence and statements from more than 40 witnesses and determined that the case “did not exist to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer involved committed a criminal offense.” Foster declined to comment.
But legal ethicists say the use of former police officers creates an appearance of a conflict of interest that can erode public trust. And those ethicists say many ex-officers still have ties to their former departments, including a sense of allegiance to the “thin blue line” that can influence the subjective process of an investigation.
“Even though he might not want to be a policeman again, he still has an allegiance to the brotherhood,” said Cornell University law professor Charles Wolfram. “If they’re from the same department, that could create obvious problems.”
Ten district attorney’s offices in California contacted by the Center for Investigative Reporting said they use former officers for their police shooting inquiries. W. Scott Thorpe, chief executive officer of the California District Attorneys Association, called the practice “very common.”
Some prosecutors, however, keep the identities of the investigators who work on police officer shootings secret – the public may never know about potential conflicts of interest in police shooting investigations, the CIR review found.
For Oakland residents, prosecutors’ reports are one of the few sources of information about officer-involved shootings. Federal court-appointed monitors, in connection with the civil rights reform effort, have criticized the department’s own investigations as biased and unquestioning [https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682615-robert-warshaw-officer-involved-shootings.html]. The department seldom releases copies of investigations and police reports on officer-involved shootings, even to the families of the individuals killed.
In Oakland, some officers have faced more shooting investigations than others. According to police records, in the past 12 years, more than half of the department’s officer-involved shootings involved the same 20 officers.
In many cases, the investigations of some of the most shooting-prone officers showed potential conflicts of interest.
Frank Moschetti, a former Oakland police officer for 23 years, investigated a shooting case involving William Pappas, a SWAT team member responsible for three shootings, according to police records [https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682621-alameda-county-district-attorney-report-fred.html]. In July 2010, he was among a group of officers who fatally shot a man wielding kitchen knives.
Also in 2010, Moschetti investigated Officers Omar Daza-Quiroz and Eriberto Perez-Angeles [https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682622-alameda-county-district-attorney-report-derrick.html]. The two officers, who were involved in the shooting death of a man in 2008, were responsible for the fatal shooting of Derrick Jones, an unarmed domestic violence suspect whose death spurred protests and an FBI investigation. He had led the two officers on a foot chase before ditching a marijuana scale that police mistook for a gun. His case is under review by the Department of Justice.
On April 1, both officers involved in the case were cleared of any wrongdoing in a federal civil trial filed by Jones' widow. The city already had paid a $225,000 settlement in a separate civil suit filed by his parents and daughter.
In 2011, three officers shot and killed a man wielding a fake firearm. After Foster completed his investigation, prosecutor John Creighton cleared the officers in Matthew Cicelski’s death [https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/682623-alameda-county-district-attorney-report-matthew.html]. Less than a year earlier, Creighton had received an endorsement from the Oakland Police Officers’ Association during his unsuccessful run for superior court judge [http://www.smartvoter.org/2010/06/08/ca/alm/vote/creighton_j/endorse.html].
Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick called Foster and the other investigators professional and unbiased. If there is bias, Drenick said, the prosecutors who work alongside the investigators would intervene.
“The district attorney is there throughout the entire thing, everything,” Drenick said. “They go as a pair to all of the interviews. And then the ultimate report that is done is written by the deputy district attorney.”
Foster also investigated the shooting deaths of two alleged gang members in May 2011, relying in part on investigative materials collected by the Oakland Police Department. The officers involved were Capt. Ersie Joyner, who has five officer-involved shootings on his record (the most of any member of the department), and Officer Cesar Garcia, who has two.
To complete his investigation, Foster relied on evidence collected by Oakland police Sgt. Jim Rullamas, according to the prosecutor’s report. Not mentioned was the fact that Joyner once oversaw Rullamas as head of the homicide division, praising the detective as hard working, according to one news report.
After the prosecutor’s office cleared the officers of wrongdoing, some of the cases resulted in hefty civil settlements. Robert Roche, a longtime member of the department’s SWAT team, has been involved in three shootings, including one that resulted in a $500,000 civil suit settlement.
Alameda County prosecutors provided the Center for Investigative Reporting with records on Oakland police officer shootings since 2000 that were proved justified and closed. Out of 23 fatal shooting cases, 10 were investigated by former Oakland police officers, the records show.
‘It’s a specialized skill’ -
Unlike Alameda County, not every prosecutor’s office in California releases records of shooting investigations involving police officers, which are protected by law from public disclosure. Many prosecutors’ offices declined to provide the names and employment histories of those they assign to investigate the shootings.
But some prosecutors acknowledged that their investigators are most often retired police officers. District attorneys in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Napa and San Mateo counties all said they employ former police officers and sheriff’s deputies to investigate officer-involved shootings.
“It’s pretty common,” said Glenn McGovern, a senior investigator at the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office who leads the training committee for the California District Attorney Investigators’ Association. “In Santa Clara, we have a lot of San Jose police. It’s a specialized skill. You have to go through advanced training for it.”
Some counties in other states have decided against using ex-officers to investigate their former departments. In Miami-Dade County in Florida, for example, only prosecutors with special training investigate officer-involved shootings. The agency does not use former police officers.
In California, legal ethicists expressed concern that most prosecutors make no attempt to avoid the controversial assignments.
“It undermines the legitimacy of the investigation,” said Stanford Law School professor Deborah Rhode. “At the very least, they should try to find investigators hired by somebody else.”
Most counties in California follow the same procedure. When a police officer shoots and kills someone, the police department conducts two separate investigations. One determines whether the officer violated department policy; the other looks for evidence of criminal conduct. Then the county prosecutor’s office either monitors the department’s criminal investigation or conducts its own and decides whether to file charges. In Alameda County, investigators are assigned to officer-involved shootings on a rotating, on-call basis.
Prior to 1985, most states legally allowed police officers to use their firearms to arrest anybody suspected of committing a felony, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report on police use of force. Some states even allowed police to shoot a fleeing suspect, including one suspected of a property crime such as forgery.
Then the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that changed the landscape of police shooting investigations: An officer may not use deadly force unless he or she “has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others” – in other words, self-defense.
Despite the ruling, it is still extremely rare for a police officer to be charged. While police need only probable cause to make an arrest, prosecutors must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that an officer acted criminally. Most fatal officer-involved shootings are deemed justifiable homicides.
In 2011, according to the FBI, law enforcement officers nationwide committed 393 justifiable homicides. A review of news articles about on-duty officer-involved shootings in California shows that since 2005, only three officers have been prosecuted in a fatal or near-fatal shooting.
The most prominent was the case of former BART Officer Johannes Mehserle. In 2010, a jury acquitted Mehserle of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter after he was captured on video shooting an unarmed man, Oscar Grant, in the back on a train platform in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. The jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and he was sentenced to two years.
In 2007, a jury swiftly acquitted former San Bernardino County sheriff’s Deputy Ivory Webb of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm. A cellphone video had shown Webb opening fire on Iraq War veteran Elio Carrion, a passenger in a car that had led Webb on a high-speed chase.
And in 2005, a San Jose jury acquitted state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement agent Mike Walker of voluntary manslaughter charges. He’d shot and killed Rudy Cardenas, a father of five whom he’d mistaken for a wanted parole violator, after Cardenas led him on a car and foot chase.
It’s unclear if former police officers investigated the three cases that led to a prosecution – those records are kept secret.
Policies vary across counties -
Prosecutors are not legally required to conduct investigations into police shootings.
After budget cuts in 2010, Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan halted her office’s investigations of officer-involved shootings, a practice that had been in place since 1984. After widespread complaints – including from the Fresno police chief – a Fresno County grand jury recommended Egan reverse her decision. She declined.
Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully made a similar decision in 2011. A slew of shootings has since prompted furor over Scully’s decision, including urgent requests from Sacramento County law enforcement to resume the investigations.
“We would like to do them, if we were given the resources,” said Assistant District Attorney Albert Locher, who once supervised the unit.
The Kern County district attorney’s office investigates shootings at the county’s small police agencies but has never investigated officer-involved shootings at the county’s two largest agencies, the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Office.
After a high-profile police shooting several years ago, District Attorney Lisa Green said she saw no need to investigate because “the public might view the district attorney’s office as a rubber stamp.”
“Although I would never approach it that way, the community may view it otherwise,” she said.
But in many cities, officials said, the investigations serve as assurance to the public that the death is being treated seriously. Police officials say the investigations can restore confidence in a department. Without them, only the police are left to investigate their own.
“It allows the public to sleep better at night,” said former police officer Mike Donovan, chief investigator at the Napa County district attorney’s office and treasurer of the California District Attorney Investigators’ Association. “Knowing that if there is an officer-involved shooting, there’s some other level than just the agency itself that gets to make the decision.”
In Los Angeles, law enforcement agencies and the areas they cover are so large that the 256 former police officers at the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office are unlikely to know anyone they are assigned to investigate, spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.
Still, some prosecutors have decided to avoid the appearance of a conflict by assigning others to the task.
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis assigned a single investigator to work on officer-involved shootings. Although a former police officer, the investigator has never worked for a San Diego County law enforcement agency, spokesman Steve Walker said.
Oakland shooting sparks protest -
In Oakland, several police shootings have galvanized the community. But instead of instilling confidence in the system, the report from the Alameda County district attorney’s office has provoked suspicion.
After Officer Miguel Masso fatally shot Alan Blueford in May, activists and residents shut down a City Council meeting in protest, and Blueford’s family filed a civil suit.
In District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office, several investigators, mainly former law enforcement officers from the Oakland Police Department and a few other county agencies, are assigned to a rotating on-call team.
When an officer-involved shooting occurs, an on-call inspector and prosecutor report to the scene, sit in on witness and officer interviews, and review evidence collected by each police department and coroner’s office. In Blueford’s case, Foster and Senior District Attorney Ken Mifsud were on call.
After O’Malley released a report on Foster’s investigation, Blueford’s supporters released their own, in which they said the prosecutor’s report lacked “professionalism and objectivity, and appears to be directed at swaying public opinion.”
The report writer, Darrell Whitman, a regional investigator for the U.S. Department of Labor, analyzed the heavily redacted police and coroner’s reports released to the public. He said the evidence made it seem more likely that Blueford was unarmed on the ground when Masso shot him.
Masso and his partner had stopped Blueford and two other teens just before midnight on suspicion that they were hiding a gun. Moments later, Blueford broke away. There was a brief foot chase before Masso said Blueford pointed a gun at him, and the officer reacted with gunfire, according to police reports.
At first, Masso said Blueford had shot him. Police later determined that Masso had accidentally shot himself in the foot. The gun Masso said Blueford possessed was found 20 feet from Blueford’s body, and investigators determined it had not been fired. Investigators found one of Blueford’s fingerprints on the gun.
In his report, Whitman pointed to discrepancies in the evidence that he said Foster and Mifsud should have examined. Instead, he said, they unquestioningly accepted Masso’s account. Mifsud declined to comment.
For example, according to the redacted police reports, of the 16 people who witnessed the shooting, only three said they saw Blueford with a gun. Another witness said he had not seen a gun but had seen Blueford grabbing his waistband. A fifth witness said he had overheard another woman saying Blueford was armed.
Masso told investigators that his first shot caused Blueford to fall into a gate and onto the ground, but according to the redacted reports, most witnesses said Blueford already was on the ground when he was shot.
Eight witnesses said they heard Blueford say, “I didn’t do anything!” right before the gunfire. Mifsud and Foster’s report detailed Masso’s accidental shooting of his own foot but otherwise repeated Masso’s account of the shooting and did not mention Blueford’s alleged statement.
Whitman also said Foster and Mifsud didn’t appear to question some of the police department’s actions. Although investigators found one of Blueford’s fingerprints on the gun, Whitman noted that at least two officers handled the gun before it was secured.
By the time it was photographed, the magazine already had been removed, “possibly contaminating DNA and biological evidence,” he wrote. In addition, per department policy, Masso had never turned on his lapel camera. Whitman said the camera footage might have captured the entire incident.
“If you have nothing else, you want to fight for your kid,” said Blueford’s father, Adam Blueford. “My son was on the ground screaming, pleading for his life.”
O’Malley declined to comment on the report.
Others said they would not be so quick to dismiss the activists’ concerns.
“From a public point of view, (using former officers) might not be the best course of action,” said Tony Monheim, a retired Miami-Dade police officer who now leads training on officer-involved shooting investigations.
“The public has its own perception of what is going on,” Monheim said. “Maybe it’s a better thing to try to ease the tension a little bit and not have someone investigate themselves.”
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