After Raucous City Council Meeting, Reid Hands Police Report to Blueford Family — Redacted
Alan Blueford was an 18-year-old Skyline High senior who was shot to death in May by Oakland police officer Miguel Masso. From the Oakland Tribune today:
Blueford was shot three times by Masso shortly after midnight May 6 at 92nd and Birch Street. Police have said that Blueford had pointed a gun at Masso. Law enforcement sources said that Blueford’s fingerprints were found on the magazine of the weapon, which was one of eight taken in a November 2011 burglary in Mountain House. Blueford’s family, who is suing the city over the shooting, has said that police have lied about the incident. They had demanded a copy of the police report.
Last night, the family got that police report, but only after a raucous Oakland City Council meeting that culminated in Council President Larry Reid walking over to Blueford’s father and handing it to him.
The Oakland Police Department has posted the report, and you can read it here, but it’s highly redacted, and the family says it will not satisfy their demand for the police account of what happened.
The meeting last night was highly emotional, as supporters of the Blueford family voiced their displeasure one-by-one during the public comment period. More than a hundred people were prevented from entering the chamber, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, due to new rules instituted after a raucous crowd protesting the Blueford shooting at a previous council meeting forced the council to adjourn early.
Here’s video from the Bay Area News Group of Alan Blueford’s mother, Jeralynn, lambasting the council last night for the lack of information that’s been released about the incident..
AP reported today that Councilmember Desley Brooks began to choke up when addressing Ms. Blueford. “It pains me every time you come here and you talk about it… But don’t just come and yell, because that doesn’t change anything. Come and work with us to change the policies and procedures.”
Meanwhile, yesterday the monitor assigned to the Oakland Police Department by a federal judge because of past incidents of police abuse released a damning report that said OPD investigations of officer-involved shootings were lacking. From the Tribune:
In a 10-page report, police monitor Robert Warshaw wrote that in several cases where the use of deadly force by officers was not clearly justified, police investigators exhibited “the most deficiencies and the least inquisitiveness”…
Warshaw found several failings in police investigations. He wrote that investigators appeared to favor fellow officers.
“This can range from failing to ask difficult questions and probe inconsistencies … to providing actual justification for an officer’s action.”
Warshaw also found instances where he felt the officer didn’t face an imminent threat at the time of the shooting and that investigators cleared officers based “on scenarios that may be possible, but if looked at objectively, do not appear likely.”
U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who ordered the report, has threatened to put the OPD under federal control if it does not meet the remainder of court-ordered reforms that came out of the 2003 settlement of the Riders police-abuse scandal. The monitor’s last report found that “there has been a slight improvement in compliance” with the mandates. But Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris is expected to file papers this week asking that the department be placed under federal jurisdiction. (UPDATE: Read KQED’s Oct.3, 2012 interview with attorney John Burris here.)
This morning, KQED’s Joshua Johnson spoke with Barbara Grady from our news associate Oakland Local. Grady attended the city council meeting last night and provided a blow by blow of what occurred. Edited transcript…
OAKLAND LOCAL’S BARBARA GRADY Last night, as the City Council was getting ready to meet, a large number of people showed up. Some had marched from another place. Many were wearing tee shirts that said “Justice for Alan Blueford.” And there were supporters of the family who have been asking for information on his death and the circumstances that led to the police shooting.
The meeting started and most people were not allowed in the room. As soon as most of the seats were full on the ground floor, City Hall employees closed the doors and there was a lot of commotion and people upset about not being allowed in.
The council closed off the balcony and was not allowing people to sit up there. There appeared to still be a few seats on the ground floor but they were saying it was full and shutting out the remaining people.
The people who came to this meeting said beforehand that their intention was to keep talking during the public comment period until their demands for information were answered.
The public comment period started and a lot of people signed up to speak and asked for the same thing – information about the night of Alan Blueford’s death. About 67 people signed up to speak.
The speakers were kind of reasonable, but behind them was loud and boisterous chanting. So a speaker would be at the podium and behind them was a lot of ‘no justice no peace.’
Alan Blueford’s mother was the most moving. She said this is my baby, this is my son, he’s not coming back. She wanted answers. It’s hard to hear that. And she was upset that the council wasn’t responding. The council isn’t supposed to really answer during the public comment period. But she was saying this is my baby, he’s gone, and you’re just sitting there looking the other way not doing anything, because they were sitting there stone silent.
Finally, Jane Brunner spoke and said ,”Well what about speakers who were kept out of the room? Can we let them back in?” Because part of what they were chanting was that people were closed out of a public meeting. She broke the ice of councilmembers finally speaking.
The meeting accelerated, more people speaking in louder voices and demanding language. It was like an hour and ten minutes into the meeting, and Larry Reid, the council president, suddenly stood up and in kind of a huff said okay, okay you can have my copy of the report.
He walked over holding this inch-thick document and handed it to Alan Blueford’s father, who was speaking at that time. People were clearly surprised by that. He accepted it and was kind of silent, the crowd kept chanting, not realizing what had happened. Then people realized, that in essence that was what they werea asking for. So people kind of filed out after that, but not quietly.
After the meeting, Grady reported, Alan Blueford’s father said he wasn’t satisfied with the release of the report because so much of it was redacted. John Burris, the family’s attorney, said it was a good first step, but that he and the family need to see a final report.