OPD bodycam video captures officer predicting danger 1 year before deadly Ghost Ship fire

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Newly obtained body camera video reveals the observations of Oakland Police officers at the Ghost Ship artists' collective well before it burned down. (Photo by the Oakland Fire Department)

Newly obtained body camera video reveals the observations of Oakland Police officers at the Ghost Ship artists' collective well before it burned down. Officers had visited the warehouse several times and can be heard voicing their concerns about the potential fire hazards.

"I don't feel comfortable going up there. Let's make it quick," Officer J. Low is heard saying.

The body camera videos were obtained by ABC7's media partner, the Bay Area News Group. In one clip, you can hear one of the officers describing the warehouse as a huge fireplace -- more than a year before the Ghost Ship burned down.

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"I would be so worried about the electrical wires. Wow," said Officer Moises Palanco.

Yet despite those comments, the Bay Area News Group found no public records indicating that the officers notified city fire or building officials. 36 partygoers died at the Ghost Ship after a fire broke out at the warehouse on December 2, 2016. The cause is still unknown, but the master tenant, Derick Almena, and his right-hand man, Max Harris, are charged with involuntary manslaughter for creating unsafe conditions -- conditions Almena's spokesperson says aren't completely their fault and the body cam videos prove it.

"Why don't you shut it down. If it was that bad of a situation, why don't you file a complaint. Why don't you call the fire department, why don't you call city officials?" said Kali Mari-Bowyer, Almena's spokesperson.

Oakland Police officers had visited the Ghost Ship several times over the years, ranging from a report of a stabbing to a child welfare check. Jim Dudley is a retired deputy chief with the San Francisco Police Department and a criminal justice lecturer at San Francisco State University.

"If they don't have a code enforcement program formally, I think you need an officer to think outside of the box to make that next step," said Dudley.

Almena and Harris are scheduled to stand trial in July. Their attorneys have included the numerous visits by city employees as part of their defense

Click here for full coverage on the investigation into Oakland's deadly Ghost Ship Fire.
Related Topics:
building firefire deathfiredeadly fireinvestigationbuilding code violationghost ship firecourt casebody camerasOPDOakland
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