Scathing report criticizes Oakland SWAT raid

January 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
There is a scathing new report on exactly what went wrong last March, on the day four Oakland police officers were killed after a wanted parolee opened fire.

The Oakland Police Department's top brass made the point repeatedly that they want to be transparent and that they want to learn from their mistakes, which is why they asked for an independent review in the first place.

The independent report was written by senior leaders of outside agencies, in an effort to help the Oakland Police Department learn from that tragic day when four officers were killed in the line of duty.

The report says many mistakes were made which include the actions of the first two officers who were shot and killed. The pair had pulled over parolee Lovelle Mixon for a traffic violation when he pulled out a gun.

According to the report, "The officers' approach, together along the driver's side door, was not in compliance with OPD training procedures or the best officer safety practices. Simply put, contact and cover protocols were not utilized."

"As painful as this was for all of us, we felt it was important that we get the message across, not only to fellow officers, but to find out the truth for the families," said Oakland Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan.

But the most critical part of the report targets the moments afterward when police were trying to find Mixon. That is when a "ad hoc" entry team entered an apartment building nearby. Mixon, armed and waiting in a ground floor unit, shot and killed two more officers before he himself was killed by another SWAT team member.

According to the report, "The decision to enter and clear the ground floor front apartment at 2755 74th Avenue was problematic from its inception. Lieutenant #3 did not gather routine intelligence on the target location, establish surveillance or obtain an interior floor plan and building layout."

The report also said "....Lieutenant #3 prematurely ordered the Entry Team to undertake a high-risk task from a position of extreme disadvantage. The hasty approval of this plan by the senior commanders compounded this error."

The rank and file were briefed on the report Wednesday afternoon, as well as family members of the slain officers. A few were consoled as they left the office of the Oakland Police Officers Association.

"We will correct those areas that we were flawed in. We will improve," said Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts.

The Oakland Police Department said state law prohibits them from identifying the commanders cited in the report, but ABC7's media partner, the Bay Area News Group, identifies them as Lt. Chris Mufarreh, Capt. Rick Orozco, and Dpty. Chief David Kozicki.

Kozicki has since retired, but Lt. Mufarreh and Capt. Orozco are expected to be demoted two ranks.