OAKLAND -- Police Chief Howard Jordan shot back at the department's court-appointed monitor Friday for criticizing police over an incident where officers allegedly pointed a gun at a sleeping 19-month-old.
The allegation is "just not factually correct," Jordan said during a hastily-planned Friday news briefing. "It's a mischaracterization of what happened."
Jordan's comments were the city's strongest public rebuke of Robert Warshaw, the former Clinton Administration official responsible for tracking the police department's progress in a decade-long reform effort.
The city's relationship with Warshaw frayed recently. City officials have privately questioned his fairness in assessing the department's progress in achieving reforms aimed at helping it better police itself. And last year City Administrator Deanna Santana filed a complaint accusing Warshaw of making sexual advances against her, according to sources.
Warshaw's latest progress report, released late Wednesday, criticized the department for continuing to backslide on reforms that were supposed to be completed five years ago.
One of Warshaw's most persistent critiques of the department is that officers too often draw their weapons without provocation and that the suspect at the opposite end of the gun is almost always African-American or Latino¿.
Tucked inside the 85-page report was a single paragraph about two officers who "pointed their firearms at a sleeping 19-month-old child" while investigating "a misdemeanor offense."
The accusation quickly made headlines, prompting the department to release a redacted police report of the July 13, 2012 incident.
The officers were executing a warrant to search for drugs, guns and ammunition at a home on the 3200 block of Market Street, and had their weapons drawn because of the frequent connection between drug dealing and shootings, Jordan said.
According to the police report, two officers entered the living room and noticed the young boy sleeping on the couch. The cops "immediately trained our weapons away from the young male," Officer Jose Barocio wrote.
In a statement released Friday, Jordan said that the officers never threatened or intentionally targeted the child.
"It is troubling for us, and for the men and women who serve our city, for there to be a belief that officers would treat a child in such a way as now being reported by the media," he wrote.
The search didn't turn up any drugs or guns. One person associated with the home, Lashawn Browning, 58, was shot to death in December on the 1100 block of 32nd Street, sources said.
Jim Chanin, one of two attorneys who represented plaintiffs in a police brutality case that led to the reform effort, said he couldn't comment on the specific incident but defended Warshaw's integrity.
"I can only assume that the monitor is honest because he has never done anything to make me think otherwise," he said. "I can't say the same for the police command staff."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.