Archive for the ‘policy violation’ Category

Ingo Mayer

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Fined for strip searching two men in public

“In March [2012], US District Court Judge Marilyn Patel sided with Lucas and Bradshaw, awarding them $245,000 in damages and $832,000 in legal fees incurred by plaintiffs’ attorneys Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin. Patel also ordered Officer Mayer to personally pay $40,000 in restitution to the two men. However, at the urging of the Oakland police union, the city council voted 5-3 last Tuesday to pay Mayer’s fine, even though the city had no obligation to add to the extensive legal bill”

(believed to be no longer with OPD)

Categories: bio, policy violation

Oakland Police Officer-Involved Shooting of Alan Blueford Raises Questions

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Originally posted in the East Bay Express

The family of Blueford, who was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer, files a federal lawsuit.

By Ali Winston

Oakland is once again in an uproar over a fatal police shooting of an African-American man. In 2007, it was Gary King Jr. In 2009, it was Oscar Grant. In 2010, it was Derrick Jones. In 2011, it was Raheim Brown. This year, it’s Alan Dwayne Blueford. The eighteen-year-old Skyline High student was shot and killed on May 6 at 92nd Avenue and Birch Street after fleeing a stop by two Oakland police officers, just weeks before his graduation.

The shooting doesn’t just mark another incident in the Oakland Police Department’s history of killing unarmed suspects, especially young black men, but it also raises questions about the department’s vetting process. The officer involved had been accused of excessive force before, while working for the New York Police Department.

According to media reports and a federal lawsuitfiled by Blueford’s family on July 19, Blueford and two friends were standing on 90th Avenue near Birch Street shortly after midnight on May 6 when two OPD officers — Miguel Masso and his unnamed partner — pulled up on the sidewalk in front of the trio. According to statements made by Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, the two officers had been dispatched to respond to a fight that had taken place at 85th Avenue and Holly Street. Jordan claimed that the trio was seen passing an object around, and Officer Masso and his partner suspected it was either a weapon or drugs.

Adam Blueford, Alan’s father, said in an interview that his son was in the neighborhood to watch the Miguel Cotto-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight with friends. The officers detained the three young men, questioned them about where they were going, and began to pat them down in search of weapons or drugs. For reasons unknown — although he was on juvenile probation for burglary in San Joaquin County at the time — Alan Blueford took off running.

According to witnesses who saw the chase and who are cited in the lawsuit, Masso pursued Blueford down Birch Street toward a crowd of people gathered on the sidewalk and in the street just past 92nd Avenue. OPD and Masso’s attorney, Harry Stern, have claimed that Blueford pulled a gun and pointed it at Masso twice during the foot chase. The Blueford family’s lawsuit asserts that Alan turned into the driveway of a single-story house at 9230 Birch Street, where he tripped and fell on his back at the entrance of the driveway. A party was in full swing in the backyard of the house, and children played soccer on thinning grass in the front yard. A witness observed what appeared to be a small black gun about twenty feet from Blueford further up the driveway, but claims the teenager made no effort to recover the weapon. The lawsuit claims that as Alan attempted to get up off the concrete, Officer Masso fired four shots, striking the teenager three times, once in the left shoulder, and on both sides of his upper chest.

The fourth shot has been the greatest source of controversy. In his report, Alameda County Coroner’s investigator Solomon Unubun wrote that OPD Officer Justin Buna contacted him at 1:29 a.m. on May 6 and “told me the decedent, an unidentified African-American male, had been shot by an OPD Officer, after the decedent brandished a firearm during a foot pursuit and shot at the officer.” Initial media reports also noted an exchange of gunfire, stating that Officer Masso had been wounded by the suspect’s weapon. However, on May 8, OPD issued a press release stating that Masso had shot himself in the foot with the fourth round and that the pistol recovered at the scene had not been fired.

According to Unubun’s report, Officer Buna also informed Unubun that Blueford’s body had been moved to Highland Hospital after his death had been pronounced at 12:20 a.m. because “the scene was unsafe,” a decision made by OPD Lieutenant James Meeks.

Blueford’s shooting is being strongly contested by his family, as the Alameda County District Attorney and OPD’s Internal Affairs and Major Crimes units continue to investigate the shooting. The Blueford family is calling for Officer Masso’s termination, increased transparency by OPD in regards to police shootings, an end to the “stop and frisk” policy they claim was behind the initial detention of Alan and his friends, and a repeal of the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, which the Bluefords and their attorneys claim shields officer misconduct records from public scrutiny.

Furthermore, details of Officer Masso’s past as a cop in New York City raise questions about the officer’s decisions regarding uses of force. According to a 2007 civil rights lawsuit, Masso and three other officers were accused of beating, macing, and tasering Rafael Santiago in a holding cell at the 52nd Precinct station house in the Central Bronx. According to the lawsuit and NYPD Internal Affairs documents, four cops, including Masso, entered his cell around 4:30 a.m. on March 15, 2007 while Santiago was sleeping. When Santiago refused their orders to leave his cell to be transported to Bronx Central Booking, he was pulled out of his cell and slammed against the floor. Santiago was tased three times, maced, and kicked repeatedly in the head and body. Medical records confirm Santiago sustained a black eye and six serious burns on his back from the electronic shocks. Santiago was then placed back in his cell and denied medical attention despite repeatedly requesting medical assistance. NYPD investigators identified Miguel Masso as the officer who refused Santiago’s requests for treatment.

Santiago’s initial claim was filed on July 13, 2007. According to NYPD documents, Masso resigned shortly thereafter, on July 20, 2007, after two years with the police department in order to take a better-paying job with the Morgan Hill Police Department in Santa Clara County. NYPD investigators did not interview him regarding the Santiago incident. Masso joined Morgan Hill on September 27, 2007, and his last day of employment was April 3, 2008.

City records show that Masso began receiving a paycheck from OPD in 2008. Roughly a year after the former NYPD and Morgan Hill officer had joined OPD, on June 6, 2009, an amended complaint was filed that named Masso as one of the officers involved. Meanwhile, NYPD’s Internal Affairs cleared Masso of allegations of injuring a prisoner in police custody and violating departmental policy on June 30, 2008. It’s unclear whether the investigation was still open when Masso was hired by OPD.

New York City settled with Santiago for $54,000 on March 9, 2010. In 2010, the most recent year for which records are available, Masso’s total employee compensation was $149,130. OPD bulletins indicate Masso received departmental awards for recovering firearms. City records show that he currently resides in the Central Valley town of Los Banos.

Sergeant Chris Bolton, chief of staff to Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, said he did not know when Masso was hired by OPD. However, Bolton asserted that all lateral transfers (i.e., officers transferring to OPD from other police departments) are carefully scrutinized and “receive a full background investigation, including a review of their personnel file” from previous employers. The final decision to hire an officer, Bolton said, weighs heavily on a “character review” of the officer’s past actions conducted at the end of the hiring process.

The Blueford family, supported by several community groups such as the Oscar Grant Committee, SEIU Local 1021, Dignity and Resistance, and members of Occupy Oakland, has been publicly pressuring Alameda County law enforcement to release more information about their son’s death.

Alan’s parents, Jeralynn and Adam Blueford, several relatives, and two dozen supporters held a press conference last Thursday in front of the Alameda County Coroner’s Office to demand the release of their son’s autopsy and the coroner’s investigation.

“My life’s been shattered and I’m trying to put together the pieces,” said Jeralynn Blueford, who claimed her family had been stonewalled in getting information about the shooting. Following the press conference, the Blueford family was able to obtain a copy of the coroner’s report after paying $321 in fees to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Inconsistent statements by OPD about the May 6 shooting have been a deep point of contention between the family’s camp and city officials. During a May 23 town-hall meeting at Acts Full Gospel Church in East Oakland, Police Chief Howard Jordan was shouted down and booed out of the room by an angry crowd after repeatedly mispronouncing Alan’s last name as “Bueford” and claiming that the boy had pointed a weapon at police and received medical attention at the scene before being transported to Highland Hospital. The coroner’s report shows Blueford was pronounced dead in front of 9230 Birch Street before being moved to Highland Hospital on the orders of OPD Lieutenant Meeks.

The Blueford family and its allies continue to decry the Oakland Police Department’s initial version of events, calling the allegations that Alan fired shots at Officer Masso a fabrication and character assassination. Chief Jordan’s public refutation of the shootout account at the May 23 town hall has not mollified the family’s anger. Jordan’s chief of staff, Sergeant Bolton, said that given the chaotic aftermath of the shooting, reports of gunfire, and an officer suffering a gunshot wound, “it is understandable — and unfortunate — that officers responding to assist made an assumption about what happened” and relayed that information to reporters.

The initial case management conference for the family’s wrongful death lawsuit will be held on October 23. In the meantime, public pressure on OPD and the Alameda County District Attorney to release more information about the Blueford shooting is only likely to mount, as the family appears to be committed to pursuing the truth about what happened to their son.

Editor’s Note: To download a PDF of the federal lawsuit filed by Alan Blueford’s family, click here.

NSA 10th Quarterly Report and Details

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Highlights from the 10th quarterly report of the Independent Monitor for the Oakland Police Department, followed by the full document below

Page 39: “The total racial breakdown for the 42 use of force events reviewed is as follows: Black, 64%;Hispanic, 27%; White, 2%; Asian, 7%; and Other, 0%. We also tabulated the racial breakdownof the subjects involved in the events where, in our opinion, the pointing of a firearm was not necessary or appropriate and found the following: Black, 91%; and Hispanic, 9%

Page 50: “[D]uring an Occupy Oakland protest, a subject kicked an officer who used a bullhorn to deflect him. A second assisting officer struck the subject in the face twotimes with a closed fist. A third OPD officer fired a less-lethal drag stabilized round or  bean bag round to the right thigh of the subject, knocking him backward. The subject became unconscious and was taken to the hospital.”

Page 50: “The EFRB determined that the officer’s use of lethal force, resulting in one fatality, was in compliance with OPD policy. Yet this determinationwas troubling, for several reasons: the finding was not based on the preponderance of theevidence standard; the board presenter did not address the officer’s statement that the deceased pointed a gun at him – an assertion that conflicted with PDRD still-frame analysis; theinvestigator inappropriately offered an explanation for the officer’s conduct, but the EFRB didnot address this; and the investigator did not discuss the officer’s failure to provide first aid onthe scene. The EFRB hearing ultimately focused on lesser procedural issues instead of the justification for the use of lethal force.”

Page 52:An employee observed that photographs of a Federal Judgeand elected City official placed on a bulletin board outside the patrol line-up room in the Police Administration Building (PAB) had been defaced in a manner that IAD found to be racist,insulting, and inappropriate. The employee said that he reported the matter to a lieutenant, and that the pictures were taken down within two days. The lieutenant advised that the employeealleged that his building access card had been cancelled as retaliation because he was a unionsteward, but the lieutenant denied that the employee made a complaint about the offensive photographs. The lieutenant was sustained for failing to take a complaint about the allegedretaliation, but not sustained for failing to report the offensive photos.” According to the Oakland Tribune: “Sources told this paper that the doctored photos were of Mayor Jean Quan and Thelton Henderson, the U.S. District Court judge, who later this year could determine whether to place the department under federal control.”

Page 56: “For example, we noted that the number of searches of persons within one sub-group is significantly higher than others; and, interestingly enough, that these searches appearedto form the basis for arrests less often than searches conducted in other sub-groups. “

Oakland council votes to pay police officer’s fine

June 20, 2012 Leave a comment

By Matthew Artz, Oakland Tribune
Posted: 06/19/2012 08:38:48 PM PDT

The Oakland City Council voted Tuesday to pay $40,000 in punitive damages that a judge had ordered a former Oakland police officer to pay for making two men pull down their pants in public.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel last year ordered Ingo Mayer to pay $25,000 to Troy Lucas and $15,000 to Kirby Bradshaw, who sued the city and the officer after Mayer stopped and strip-searched them at a busy West Oakland intersection.

Patel found no legal rationale for the 2005 search. She ordered Oakland to pay a total of $205,000 to the men in addition to the $40,000 Mayer was ordered to pay. The city also had to pay $832,000 in legal fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, John Burris and Michael Haddad.
The city had no legal obligation to make Mayer’s payment, but the council voted 5-3 to do it anyway.

Councilmembers Nancy Nadel, Desley Brooks and Rebecca Kaplan voted in opposition.
Brooks said the police union had recently asked council members to indemnify Mayer.
“It’s inexcusable to allow such a practice to take place …,” Brooks said. “Punitive damage is not something a judge does lightly. You have to do something really bad.”

Categories: policy violation

Frazier report on Occupy Oakland

June 15, 2012 Leave a comment

OPD Screws Up Scott Olsen Investigation?

June 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Originally posted at East Bay Express

A new report reveals that a department investigator may have compromised the investigation into the shooting of the Marine veteran.

By Ali Winston

Filings made last week in the court of federal Judge Thelton Henderson reveal that the Oakland Police Department’s investigation into which of its officers shot Marine veteran Scott Olsen with a beanbag round on October 25 may have been compromised by the actions of an officer assigned to the case. “It is alleged an OPD investigator compromised the Scott Olson [sic] criminal investigation,” the court document reads. “This will require interviews of several members of CID [Criminal Investigations Division] and Tango Teams [tactical teams armed with less-than-lethal munitions] but will not require any extensive analysis of video or other evidence.”

It is unclear what the officer did — OPD did not respond to requests for comment. The initial investigation into Olsen’s injury appears to have been completed, but the alleged screw-up seems to have slowed down the process. “The complainant was shot in the head with a beanbag round and then a chemical munition was thrown into a group of people attempting to render aid to him,” the report states. “All of the tango team members have been interviewed and extensive video analysis has already been completed. It is likely that interviews of additional officers, as well as a reinterview of the subject will need to be completed.”

The latest revelation marks another black eye for OPD and its response to last fall’s Occupy Oakland protests. Already swamped with more than 1,000 complaints, OPD’s Internal Affairs unit was forced to recuse itself from investigating the accusations because the commander in charge of internal affairs, Captain Paul Figueroa, had been placed in charge of Oakland cops on the night of October 25 after the first Occupy Oakland raid. Delays in contracting with third-party entities to complete reviews of complaints within the mandated 180 days also placed OPD in hot water with Henderson.

Both the Olsen investigation and the probe into allegations that an officer undermined the case are being handled by the law firm Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP, which began work on April 23. Three other cases are being handed over to outside investigators: the beating of Kayvan Sabehgi on November 2 by now-retired OPD Officer Frank Uu; an OPD sergeant’s accusation that command staff did not adequately respond to his squad being surrounded and attacked by a crowd on an unspecified date; and a complaint filed by the ACLU alleging that OPD violated its own crowd-control policy on October 25 by firing tear gas and less-than-lethal projectiles at unarmed demonstrators.

Police assault and arrest protester at Oscar Grant rally

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

This arbitrary police arrest occurred on July 8, 2010 after the verdict of Johannes Mehserle, the BART cop who killed Oscar Grant, was announced