Oakland residents upset over police violence

March 21, 2008 11:50:14 PM PDT
There is anger in Oakland over the deaths of a 71-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy. Some are blaming the police. However, Oakland officers say when people point guns at them, they have to defend themselves, which is what they say they did twice during the past week.

Fifteen-year-old Jose Louis died two days ago in a noon encounter with police on a street corner in Oakland off of Hegenberger Road. Police say the 15-year-old was armed.

"As the officers stopped their car, the subject then produced a firearm from his right pants leg and leveled it at the police car at which time all three officers began to fire and struck the young man. The young man fell to the ground. The firearm was recovered right next to him," said Oakland Police Lt. Ersie Joyner.

"The bullet's not right for one boy. The bullet's not right," said Jose Louis Sr., the victim's father.

The boy's father and family are in shock.

A woman heard the gunshots and ran to her window. She shot video as police subdued the boy and waited for an ambulance.

"He was alive and yelling, 'my legs, my legs.' He didn't get any kind of help from police, from anybody, and they even handcuffed him and one of the officers, a lady, started writing on a clipboard on his back," said witness Olga Morales.

Friday, police showed photos of the sawed-off 22-caliber rifle they say the teenager pointed at them. They say in another officer shooting incident last Friday night, a 71-year-old man was brandishing a replica Beretta when he was shot and killed.

"You can imagine if you're an officer and you're in a situation where all of a sudden somebody has this (a gun) in their hand and they're waving it around," said Oakland Police Spokesman Roland Holmgren.

But some residents criticized police for overreacting in neighborhoods where crime is high.

"I think they're young, inexperienced, gun happy. They're scared," said neighbor Betty Johnson.

"Two people are dead that don't have to be dead. Both times because they pointed a gun at an officer," Deputy Chief Jeffrey Israel with the Oakland Police Department Bureau of Investigations.

Police say when guns are pointed at officers, they are trained to stop that threat. But some Oakland residents see it differently. Next week, they're organizing a silent march to protest, what they call, police violence.