Oakland cops mistook unarmed man's scale for gun

The East Oakland community remains outaged after police shot and killed Derrick Jones.
November 12, 2010 11:53:21 PM PST
Not a gun, but a scale -- that is what a man shot by police Monday night was carrying. The two officers who opened fire on Derrick Jones say he was reaching for his waistband. His widow says that doesn't justify the shooting.

Police have identified the two officers involved as Omar Daza-Quiroz, who has been with the department for four years, and Eriberto Perez-Angeles, who has been with the department for three years and is also on the SWAT team.

The electronic scale Jones was carrying is silver colored and small, about 3x5 inches. Police say the two officers shot Jones numerous times in the chest when he reached for his waistband. They say the officers thought Jones was reaching for a pistol.

Widow Lanell Jones believes the shooting is still not justified.

"Absolutely not. It doesn't make a difference," she said. "He was still killed and it wasn't a weapon."

Attorney John Burris represents the Jones family.

"That's not a basis to kill anyone," said Jones family attorney John Burris. "No. 2, it wasn't pointed at them and No. 3, how do you get to shoot and kill someone for something that's in his pocket?"

Police responded to a domestic violence call Monday evening on the 5800 block of Bancroft Avenue. Jones ran from the scene with officers in pursuit. He was shot several blocks away.

"You're talking about a low lighted [sic] area, about heightened anticipation because the person's running," said Don Cameron, a former police officer who now trains law enforcement on the use of weapons. He says they may have mistaken the shiny metal object for a gun. "Officers have to react to it. They can't say, 'Is it a firearm? Let me look, let me wait that extra second' because you don't have a second to wait.

After the shooting, Police Chief Anthony Batts said perhaps his department needs better training.

"I do want to focus on the fact that we need to better ourselves in dealing with people going for waistbands, going into clothing, going into different aspects and make sure that we give officers the proper training to address these things," said Batts.

"They're young officers," said Burris. "Generally, officers within one to three, four years are the ones who generally engage in fatal shootings."

The two officers have been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. In addition to the pocket scale, police said they found marijuana in a glass jar in Jones' pocket.


Load Comments