Oakland police defend handyman shooting

August 3, 2009 7:53:12 PM PDT
Oakland police are defending an officer's decision to shoot and kill a man over the weekend. They released a photo of the hatchet they say the man used to threaten an officer. But, neighbors claim he was a handyman -- who always carried a tool.

MOST POPULAR: Video, stories and more
SIGN-UP: Get breaking news sent to you from ABC7

Oakland police say Brownie Polk threatened an officer with a hatchet before he was shot and killed.

Authorities released a photo of it Monday, but they are not releasing footage from the surveillance cameras that captured the entire incident.

"If we're able to release the video we're going to make a lot more witnesses come forward that say they saw it when they actually didn't," Oakland Police Department spokesperson, Officer Jeff Thomason said.

One store employee, who did see the shooting but did not want to speak on camera, paints a very different picture of what happened Saturday night at Tolin's Liquor Store.

He says store clerks never contacted police to complain about Polk. Police say Polk had been harassing customers and that a merchant flagged down a passing officer.

The employee told ABC7 the officer approached Polk and told him to drop his weapon. Polk began to walk toward the door to leave. The officer stood in the door way and fired four shots into his chest.

"When the officer went to make contact with Mr. Polk, he pulled out a hatchet, raised it above his head and walked toward the officer; she gave a command saying, 'Drop the hatchet,'" Thomason said. "He did not comply with it and then the officer fired her weapon.

There were 11 fatal officer involved shootings last year and three so far this year. The second one took place on International Boulevard just three weeks ago.

In the East Oakland neighborhood where Polk was a fixture, a memorial continues to grow.

Hours before the shooting, Polk had been working on a roofing project at his house.

Friends say he was never without a tool in hand.

"He was a worker; every time I seen him, he had overalls on, he'd been painting, he'd been doing something," childhood friend Tony Terrell said.

Police said that officer has a year and a half on the force. She remains on paid leave while the case is investigated.

       Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone
Follow us on Twitter | Fan us on Facebook | Get our free widget


Load Comments