2011-02-09 "Families of Oakland Police Victims Plea for Support; DA Refuses Prosecution" by Jesse Strauss
Two months after Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts announced an FBI investigation into the November police killing of Derrick Jones, the Alameda County District Attorney told Jones’ family that she had decided against prosecuting the officers who shot Jones eight times as he was running away, unarmed. According to Jones’ family at Tuesday’s Oakland City Council meeting, the DA has not received any reports from the police department’s Internal Affairs office or the FBI.
Bruce Nash, one of Jones’ family members explained that as of Tuesday, “We have no clue in terms of what’s happened with the FBI report,” and added that it seems like “this is a murder that’s been swept under the carpet.” Moreover, he was “very disappointed in what was stated today by Ms. O’Malley,” and asked for support from the City Council by finding all Internal Affairs and FBI reports in order to be informed about how to proceed as a grieving and upset family.
While council members spoke in support of accessing these reports, none were aware whether any had actually been completed. Councilmember Nancy Nadel cited the California Police Bill of Rights, which limits criminal liability of officers, in explaining why the family hasn’t gotten any reports, and called the Police Bill of Rights “part of the problem.”
Jones’ mother supported Nash’s request to the City Council. “I’m stressing for you guys to help. Something needs to happen with these police officers. They’re killing machines.”
Also present at the meeting were both parents of Raheim Brown, the 20 year old man shot five times including twice in the head by Oakland School Police on January 22nd. Brown’s mother, Lori Davis, explained that Sergeant Jonathan Bellusa, the officer who initiated the gunfire that killed her son, had previously been charged at least twice for excessive use of force including another case that resulted in another man’s death. Davis brought a plea similar to the one from the Jones family to the City Council. “I need your help making sure this officer gets investigated.”
Closing out the meeting, Jack Bryson, the father of two of Oscar Grant’s friends who were with Grant when he was killed, said, “What I’m seeing now is there’s a genocide on Black and Brown men.” As Grant’s case is over two years old, and by far the oldest of the three, Bryson has tried time and again to find support, but as he articulated on Tuesday, “All three families are grieving and no one is stepping up to do nothing.”
In support of these families, a slew of local and national organizations are planning “A People’s Hearing on Racism and Police Violence,” which will give space for victims and their family members to offer public testimony about their experiences. More information on the ‘People’s Hearing’ can be found at [http://peopleshearing.wordpress.com]