Oakland Police investigate one of their own

July 28, 2008 7:24:13 PM PDT
The Oakland Police Department has to investigate one of its rookie police officers, after he shot and killed a drunk driving suspect who took off after being stopped. It's the second time the officer has shot and killed a suspect.

Usually, when Oakland Police call a press conference, the heat is on someone else. However, this time it was on the department, after last week's fatal shooting of an unarmed suspect.

"At this point there is no way to make a determination. It's still very early in regards to if this shooting was within or without policy," said Lieutenant Ersie Joyner, from the Oakland Police Department.

It was early Friday morning when Oakland Police Officer Hector Jimenez shot 27-year-old Jody Woodfox. Police say Jimenez told them that Woodfox appeared to be driving drunk, led them on a high speed chase before, and then set off on foot. Jimenez says he thought the suspect was reaching for a weapon, even though he did not have one.

"Someone running away from you does not preclude you from shooting them, but once again, each situation has to be looked at independently," said Lt. Joyner.

Even if the shooting turns out to be justified, Oakland Police have a public perception problem on their hands. Last year, Oakland Police shot 12 times and killed five people. In 2008, they have shot seven, and killed five more.

"They are not training them not to kill. They shoot to kill, they are trained to shoot to kill," said Gwen Hardy, from People United for a Better Life in Oakland.

Hardy is just one of many department critics who say the Oakland Police have too many young officers who are learning on the job. The victim's family wants criminal charges filed.

"We believe it was senseless and could have been avoided," said Kenita Vaughan, the suspect's sister.

"We spend a lot of time training officers on when to shoot, how to shoot, and where to shoot. So, we're very confident in our training and want the public to realize that it is not the Wild Wild West in Oakland. We take this seriously," said Assistant Chief Howard Jordan, with the Oakland Police Department.

Officer Jimenz has now killed two suspects in less than two years on the force. He remains on paid leave.


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