ALAMEDA -- Mayor Marie Gilmore called for an independent review Tuesday into the circumstances surrounding the death of Raymond Zack, who intentionally drowned himself on Memorial Day as police and firefighters watched from the shore.

The call from Gilmore came after Acting City Manager Lisa Goldman said that 911 records and other documents detailing the emergency response would be posted on the city's website within the next several days.

"It's extremely important that we determine what happened and when it happened," Gilmore said.

The death of the 52-year-old Zack -- whose family said suffered from depression -- has sparked intense debate on whether emergency responders did enough to save his life.

"A man died because of our city services and I have not heard one of you -- or one of our city officers -- say it should never happened," Alameda resident Denise Lai told the City Council on Tuesday.

Lai called Zack's death "unconscionable." Zack waded into the water fully clothed about 11:30 a.m. and gradually walked farther and farther from shore, witnesses said.

Firefighters said they did not enter the water because they were not certified in shore-based or surface-water rescue due to budget cuts. Police said they did not go in because the 300-pound, 6 foot-3 inch tall man was suicidal and possibly armed or dangerous.

Alameda resident Len Grzanka said police and firefighters were morally obligated to try and save Zack in the waters off Robert Crown Memorial State Beach.


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"They have brought disgrace onto this city and its residents," Grzanka said.

Police and firefighters -- who were dispatched after a 911 caller reported that Zack was suicidal -- did not communicate with Zack and remained on the beach, even after he began floating face down, witnesses said.

A passer-by eventually pulled Zack's body to shore about an hour after he entered the water near Shoreline Drive and Willow Street. He was pronounced dead at Alameda Hospital.

After Zack's death, Interim fire Chief Mike D'Orazi said a move to shutter the fire department's water rescue program in 2009 due to budget constraints was behind the decision by firefighters to remain on the beach. But some city officials said they believe the move was supposed to be only temporary.

On Tuesday, Goldman said 16 firefighters will begin training next week as rescue swimmers. An additional 14 have volunteered for the training, she said.

The exact cause of death of the 52-year-old Zack has not been determined because results from a toxicology report are still pending, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau. The results will take several weeks.