Alameda Co. DA may drop enhancements in Oakland killing of TV news guard Kevin Nishita

Kevin Nishita was a retired police officer who was working as a security guard for a local TV news crew when he was fatally shot.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2023
ALCO DA may drop enhancements in Oakland killing of TV news guard
Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price may drop enhancements in the killing of KRON4 guard Kevin Nishita in Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The widow of Kevin Nishita was hoping to leave the Hall of Justice in Dublin on Tuesday morning with a full understanding of the charges against the suspects in her husband's murder case.

"It is complicated because the charges that were set in the O'Malley administration, in 2022, are still standing at this time," said Virginia Nishita, in reference to former Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley.

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Nishita says there is now a strong indication that the current district attorney, Pamela Price, may drop the special circumstance and some enhancements charges, which could have kept the suspects locked up for life. But she says the possible changes still haven't "officially been submitted through the court system" as of Tuesday morning's hearing.

"That's what I am worried about, that they are not being held accountable. And they need to be, especially for murder," said Nishita.

Monday evening, D.A. Price issued a statement ahead of Tuesday's hearing, saying that two of the suspects, Shadihia Mitchell and Hershel Hale, will both be charged with first-degree murder, plus arming enhancements. They face 25 years to life.

"These are very serious charges, and they reflect my office's commitment to punishing those who come to Alameda County to inflict harm on people in our community," D.A. Price wrote. But the statement did not address if the initial enhancements are being dropped.

Kevin Nishita was a retired police officer who was working as a security guard for a local TV news crew. He was shot when a group of men tried to rob them in downtown Oakland in November of 2021. He died a few days later.

MORE: TV news guard fatally shot in Oakland remembered as 'caring, courageous' at memorial

"We will forever love you." Family, friends and fellow officers remembered Kevin Nishita as a "caring and courageous" person that always had a joyful spirit.

Nishita's widow says she does believe in forms of restorative justice, the platform D.A. Price ran on. But not for serious crimes like murder. She wants her husband's killer to get life sentences without the possibility of parole.

"Getting rid of the special circumstances, the enhancements, will enable them to be out on the streets, sooner, at the end of their sentencing. And that is where the safety issue comes in at," said Nishita.

Some suggest that there may be changes to the charges because a third suspect, Laron Gilbert, may be the man who actually shot Kevin Nishita. Price says Gilbert is armed and dangerous, and is still at large.

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In an email to ABC7 News, the Alameda County Public Defenders Office, which represents Mitchell, says it supports dropping enhancements since it argues that Mitchell did not pull the trigger. And, it blames the Oakland Police Department for errors in this case.

"Investigators, including Oakland police Det. Phong Tran, then tried to cover up their incompetence by skewing the case to make it seem like our client was the shooter," writes Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods.

Virginia Nishita says the case will be back in court on Jan. 3, and hopes to get a better understanding of the actual charges then.

"We are hanging in here. And I will be here, at every court date," she said.

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