Over the weekend, Pasadena Police shot and killed a burglary suspect. Meanwhile, the dead suspect’s alleged conspirator is being held on suspicion of felony murder–in connection with his co-suspect’s death. Here’s the description of the incident from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:
The incident began when an unidentified victim was robbed at gunpoint by two suspects near a taco truck at Oaks Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard, the lieutenant said.
Pasadena police officers responding to the scene spotted McDade, who was running north on Fair Oaks, Ibarra said. The officers, who were not identified, tried to detain him.
“The suspect put his hands in his waistband at some point,” Sanchez said. “Both officers fired striking the suspect.”
No weapon was found at the shooting scene Sunday, though police continued combing the area, Ibarra said.
McDade was taken to a local hospital where he died, according to police and coroner’s officials. A second suspect, identified as a 17-year-old Pasadena boy, was arrested nearby without incident.
The teen was booked on suspicion of murder under the legal theory that he committed a felony that resulted in the death of a co-suspect, Ibarra said.
California’s felony murder rule allows a suspect to be charged with murder if a death happens during the commission of a felony–whether or not the person charged anticipated or directly caused the death. Apparently, it’s been invoked before in the case of officer-involved shootings. For example, in 1984 in the case of People v. Caldwell at the California Supreme Court, justices determined that two men involved in a police shootout could be charged with felony murder after one of their accomplices was killed in the shootout.
Three people died over the weekend in Oakland, including a suspect who fled from a traffic stop and was shot by OPD officers after resisting arrest.
The first death took place at the Alta Bates Medical Center around 4:05 AM, when a replacement nurse administered a fatal dosage of non-prescribed medicine to 66-year-old Oakland resident Judith Ming. According to police, Ming had been receiving treatment at the hospital since July 2011. OPD investigators were summoned to the scene by Alameda County Coroner’s deputies and are investigating Ming’s death.
Later that Afternoon, a man was murdered shortly before noon on the 3200 block of Hannah Street in West Oakland. Police officers responding to reports of a shooting found a 20-year-old Roberto Guzman suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Guzman was pronounced dead at the scene. Continue reading
Allegations of police misconduct against individual cops are confidential, according to California law
When there are police shootings – they usually make front page news. Any officer involved in a shooting is usually immediately put on administrative leave, and the police department conducts an investigation. Reporters follow up on these stories, but their access is limited. That’s because five years ago, the California Supreme Court decided to bar the public from seeing misconduct allegations filed with police watchdog agencies. The case was called Copley Press v. San Diego.
I spent the past two years looking at the effect of this ruling and how police departments deal with officers involved in multiple shootings. Yesterday, Colorlines Magazine published my story about the state of police oversight in Oakland – a city where shootings by Oakland and BART police have led to civil unrest. The piece article focuses on the story of one officer involved in four high-profile shootings and other instances of misconduct. His behavior has cost Oakland $3.6 million in settlements – and he is still on the police force.
Yesterday, I sat down with KALW’s Hana Baba to talk about the findings of my investigation.
(Transcript after the jump)
A now-sandblasted mural to Gary King Jr. at 54th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in North Oakland. King Jr. was shot to death by Oakland Police Sgt. Patrick Gonzales on September 20, 2007.
Today, The Informant published a two-year joint investigation with Colorlines, The Nation’s Investigative Fund and UC-Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program into California’s laws regarding the confidentiality of police misconduct records and their impact on the Oakland Police Department.
Prior to the California Supreme Court’s 2006 ruling in Copley Press v. Superior Court of San Diego, misconduct complaints filed with independent police watchdog agencies such as Oakland’s Citizens’ Police Review Board were public and contained extensive identifying information for police officers.
Following Copley, police review boards throughout California began redacting the names of officers from complaint records. Police accountability experts say that tracking officers’ allegations of misconduct is crucial to curbing misconduct early in their career. Studies show that officers frequently involved in low-level uses of force have a higher risk of shooting at a suspect.
This investigation focused on officers involved in repeat shootings in the Oakland Police Department. From 2000 to 2010, 16 OPD officers have been involved in more than one shooting, including 11 who are still on the force. Three officers have shot four times, including Sgt. Patrick Gonzales. Sgt. Gonzales has been involved in four shootings over the course of his career. Records from pre-Copley CPRB hearings and lawsuits also allege numerous instances of misconduct by Sgt. Gonzales. The investigation focuses on his career and documents the sort of misconduct allegations that have been deemed confidential information by the Copley Press decision.
An investigation last year into officer-involved shootings in Fresno revealed 29 Fresno Police officers had been involved in shooting incidents, 27 of whom were still on FPD’s roster.
An excerpt from the article is after the jump.
BART tactical police confront protesters at the entrance of the Embarcadero Station on August 15, 2011
Four downtown BART transit stations were closed during rush hour yesterday by a protest decrying the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority’s decision to shut down cellphone service last Thursday to avert a potential protest over the July 3rd fatal shooting of Charles Hill by rookie BART Police Officer James Crowell. Dozens of BART and San Francisco Police officers were deployed in riot gear and on motorcycles to keep tabs on the protest, but save from a few baton shoves and a great deal of invective, yesterday’s protest was free of violence.
The protest was called by Anonymous, a loose-knit, transnational hacker collective responsible which has aligned itself with pro-democracy demonstrators in the Middle East and the controversial whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. Anonymous labeled Monday’s actions #OpBART, sparking a flurry of traffic on the social networking website Twitter.
The two San Francisco police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Washington State parolee Kenneth Harding last month were named in a letter from SFPD to the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.
In response to a Sunshine Ordiance request filed by ACLU Norcal attorney Michael Risher, SFPD identified Matthew Lopez and Richard Hastings as the two officers who fired on Harding.
Harding, who was 19 at the time of his death, fled from SFPD officers who were conducting fare checks at the Muni Platform on Third Street. Though the officers didn’t know it at the time, Harding was on parole from Washington State and was considered a person of interest in a Seattle homicide earlier in July. Harding fired on SFPD officers as he fled. Harding and Lopez returned fire, striking him in the leg.
Two men were shot to death by Oakland Police during a joint OPD-Drug Enforcement Administration operation that turned confrontational, according to department officials. Around 10:30 PM, Oakland Police say they received information a crime was about to take place near the 3000 block of Curran Avenue, between Coolidge and 35th Avenues in East Oakland.
Oakland Police officers located a car they were searching for with three suspects. When officers attempted to stop the car, OPD say two of the men inside stepped out with weapons. One confronted officers and was fatally shot. The second armed man fled into a nearby backyard. The third occupant of the car, who was unarmed, was shot and wounded near the street curb. Both wounded men were were given medical treatment on the scene but died from their wounds.
Media reports identified Fletcher Jackson, 30, as one of the dead men. The other slain man and the suspect still in custody have not been identified.
The third suspect was found soon thereafter hiding under a tree in the yard of the house where the shootings took place. Police say he was located with the assistance of a helicopter mounted with a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Device) camera that is capable of detecting heat signatures through walls and other objects. A weapon was also recovered nearby, and the suspect is being held on a parole violation.
San Francisco Police Department
At last week’s meeting of the San Francisco Police Commission, an important presentation on SFPD’s investigations of officer-involved shootings was lost amidst the furor around Patrol Specials, the controversial quasi-public, quasi-private security guards licensed by SFPD. The SFPD’s Firearms Discharge Review Board, which reviews all police shootings and weapons discharges that take place in San Francisco, reported to the commissioners on its inquiries through the First Quarter of 2011. Their findings are summarized in an informational report that has a number of interesting items.
Seven investigations of police shootings involving SFPD officers have been completed as of the end of March. Since January 2008, 38 investigations have been concluded, or had “summary letters” of the incident written by the FDRB.
As a side note, see our story from earlier this year about District Attorney George Gascón’s decision to withhold the DA’s findings letters on officer-involved shooting from the public.
Eight shootings that took place between August 2010 and January 2011 remain open pending the outcome of investigations by SFPD’s Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions, as well as the District Attorney. Continue reading