FBI asked to investigate Derrick Jones shooting

December 15, 2010 6:16:19 PM PST
Oakland's police chief wants help from the FBI after a shooting involving one of his officers. Chief Anthony Batts is responding to community concerns in the police shooting of an unarmed barber.

The request is a pretty unusual move; in the past five years, the Oakland Police Department says independent federal investigators have stepped in during just two other cases. If they do so in this one, they will join investigations already underway in the department's internal affairs unit, homicide team and the district attorney's office

"I don't think that OPD is capable of performing an objective investigation," Derrick Jones' sister Tonya Saheli said.

Saheli says she does not trust the Oakland Police Department to investigate her brother's killing. In fact, she does not believe a word she has heard from police since officers shot her brother last month.

"The police department are trying to cover up what really happened," she said. "Why didn't they reveal what they found on my brother immediately? So, why the delay in what that thing was that they found?"

Police did not find a gun on Jones but they say he had a scale and a small amount of marijuana.

Officers had responded to a domestic disturbance call at his Oakland barbershop when Jones ran into nearby alley and police say he repeatedly reached for his waist band. Two officers opened fire and killed him.

The case has sparked outrage in Oakland, especially in the neighborhood where Jones ran his barbershop and raised his daughter.

At a City Hall meeting Tuesday night, Batts said he has asked the FBI to conduct an independent investigation into what happened.

"We want to make sure the public feels comfortable with the findings so we are absolutely inviting the FBI to come here and we want the public to be comfortable with the Oakland Police Department," police spokesperson Ofc. Holly Joshi said.

Federal investigators are already looking into another high profile police killing in Oakland, the BART police shooting of Oscar Grant. Grant's uncle says both men were murdered by police.

"To me it was a good move, I'm sure the community is more apt to believe what comes from the Department of Justice will really convey what's happening, as long as it's not coming from internal affairs," Cephus Johnson said.

For Jones' family bringing in the FBI is more than a good move, it is necessary.

"It'll give us an objective viewpoint of what really happened," Saheli said. "Right now there's too much bias, there's too many contradictions going on."

As for the two officers who shot Jones, after a few days of being on paid leave, as is standard in officer involved shootings, they are back on the job, but have not been allowed to return to the streets.