KQED correspondent Andrew Stelzer reports from Oakland that Police Chief Anthony Batts told a meeting of the City Council's Public Safety Committee tonight that he has asked federal officials to open a civil rights investigation into last month's fatal police shooting of East Oakland resident Derrick Jones.
Batts announced the request after members of Jones' family and their supporters addressed the committee for 45 minutes and criticized law enforcement investigations into the incident.
Jones was shot Nov. 8 by officers responding to a report of an assault at a Bancroft Avenue laundromat. Police say Jones fled when officers tried to question him. Two officers reportedly told department investigators they opened fire after seeing Jones reach into his waistband and remove a metal object. The object turned out to be a small electronic scale. Jones, 37, ran a barbershop on Bancroft Avenue and was on parole for a past firearms offense.
"Jones' mother, Nelly Jones, wept as she spoke to the committee. She said the police are 'hiding behind a badge and a gun' and that she's tired of the 'broken record' explanation police have so far offered for the shooting: that Jones ran from officers asking him about the domestic violence call and appeared to pull a metal object from his pants near his waist just before the two officers fired on him, possibly prompting the officers to fear he was drawing a gun.
"Nelly Jones said she believes police murdered her son, adding, 'I wouldn't want to be them on judgment day.'
"Several other speakers said they doubt the reliability of the separate investigations being conducted by the police department's Internal Affairs and homicide sections, and some called into question a third investigation by the Alameda County District Attorney's office, calling it too close to the problem to be trustworthy."