Oakland, Calif., Police Department officers took yet another young Black man’s life on the morning of June 6. According to initial reports, the man was unconscious behind the wheel of his car, which was stopped at the curb in a lane which exits from I-580 near the Lake Merritt shopping district. The police were called by firefighters after they had approached the car to provide assistance, but saw a gun on the passenger seat.
Police officials said that they attempted to awaken the man by shooting bean bag rounds at the car windows. They then used another instrument to break the windows. Police Chief Sean Whent, in a press conference that afternoon, said, “Upon the last attempt to (make contact), officers approached the car, the person at that time was awake, a confrontation ensued with the officers and the person, one officer deployed a Taser, a second officer deployed a firearm, the person in the car was struck by the gunfire.” (insidebayarea.com, June 6) He was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital soon afterwards. The yet unnamed man who was killed had at least one child, a daughter in grade school, according to the mother of her best friend.
The Anti Police-Terror Project’s first responder team was on the scene shortly afterwards, trying to find witnesses and gather evidence. They were able to obtain police dispatch records. Daniela Kantorova posted on Facebook a summary of what she found:
“Between 8:12-8:42, police firing bean bags at the car, and reports NO MOVEMENT in the vehicle. Then, and these are quotes:
8:42:26 making contact
8:42:33 everybody hold their position
8:42:47 taking suspect into custody
8:42:55 start medical from Lakeshore
8:43:22 GET MEDICAL HERE RIGHT NOW”
So in the space of less than one minute, the announcement went from “no movement” (presumably he was still unconscious) to that he was Tased, shot and killed.
The community is outraged and the APTP has organized a vigil for Friday, June 12, at 6 p.m. at Lake Merritt. At this writing, 824 people have joined the event on Facebook.
It remains to be seen how the OPD will respond to this large nighttime gathering. They are still trying to enforce a new policing policy, ordered by Mayor Libby Schaaf and implemented for the first time on May 21, that prohibits night marches in the streets. The community has been holding frequent protests against this new “curfew” ever since. Another one, “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” is called for June 10 at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th Street and Broadway) by the Black Youth Project.