OPD report, dispatch recordings released

January 7, 2010 5:43:13 PM PST
New details are emerging about just what happened the day a wanted parolee gunned down four Oakland police officers last March. A report released last night blasted the Oakland Police Department for all the mistakes made that day and newly-released dispatch recordings show just how chaotic the scene was on the ground.

At 7400 MacCarthur, on Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 1:15 p.m., there were mistakes from the very beginning. Two motor officers made a routine traffic stop on MacCarthur Boulevard and against OPD policy both approached the driver's side door putting them in a vulnerable position.

A dispatcher said "Two officers on bikes. We got two code threes en route."

Wanted parolee Lovelle Mixon leaned out of the car's window, shot each officer twice, then crawled out of the window, walked by the dying officers and fired again, shooting Sgt. Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege in their backs before fleeing to an apartment around the corner.

An out of breath officer yells "I need traffic on MacCarthur stopped at 76th and 73rd!"

The emotion that then took over is heard in just-released dispatch recordings and the errors made are detailed in a scathing report by an independent panel of police experts.

It does not name names, but news reports identify those commanding officers criticized for the confusion outside the apartment where Mixon hid as Lt. Chris Mufarreh, Cpt. Rick Orozco, and Deputy Chief David Kozicki. Kozicki has since retired, and Mufarreh and Orozco are expected to be demoted two ranks.

The investigation concluded it was an "ineffective and poorly managed operation." That "the decision to enter and clear the ground floor front apartment... was problematic from its inception."

On that day an officer screamed, "We have enough units here. I need units to span out... spread out and look for these people."

More than 115 police units responded, overwhelming those on scene. No command post was ever set up. It took 90 minutes before any senior officers arrived.

Informants told police Mixon was holed up in the building, but a lawyer now representing the commanding officers says they did not know he was inside, otherwise their decision to enter may have been different.

A dispatcher said, "I need any available sergeants to respond and assist."

Against department policy, they stormed the building before the full SWAT team had even arrived. No hostage negotiators were there and no snipers.

Sgt. Erv Romans was shot immediately.

The apartment was dark. They advanced into the bedroom where Mixon hid in a closet armed with an assault rifle with a bayonet on the end of the barrel.

Sgt Daniel Sakai was the final officer shot to death on the deadliest day in Oakland police history.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums issued a statement Thursday saying he has faith that the OPD will "...use the report as an opportunity to learn from the tragic incident and ultimately improve the way it serves our community."

One more note -- the Oakland City Council voted Thursday to honor one of the officers who is being criticized in that report. Retired Deputy Chief David Kozicki will be recognized for his 29 years of service in a ceremony on January 19.