OAKLAND -- The police officer responsible for most of the evidence in the city's proposed Fruitvale gang injunction took the stand Wednesday, defending the physical scope of the suit, which critics have said is too broad.
Officer Douglass Keely, who said he's currently the police department's only Hispanic gang expert actively handling investigations, created the primary document of evidence used by City Attorney John Russo in the gang injunction Russo filed in October. Keely testified for the first time Wednesday in an ongoing hearing to determine whether a judge will issue a preliminary injunction against 40 adults accused of being members of the Nortenos street gang.
If successful, the suit would restrict the defendants' behavior in a safety zone bordered by 21st Avenue and High Street south of Brookdale Avenue, a region with more than 400 city blocks that police say are controlled by the Nortenos. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is one of several Oakland leaders to question the physical scope of the plan.
Police had to make the space that big "so (Nortenos) couldn't move from one spot to the other," Keely testified. There are numerous troubled blocks and intersections there, and "the reason for the largeness of the area is that it engulfs all the spots and closes them all off," he added.
"Say a Norteno walks to the corner store, and sees someone he thinks is an enemy," Keely said. "That attack'll happen right there."
Earlier, Fruitvale resident Esmeralda Quintero, 31, testified that her brother, Javier -- a defendant in the case -- has been repeatedly bothered by the police and that despite his past crimes, he's not a gang member.
She also testified that when she first met Keely, he was standing on her brother with both feet, as her brother lay handcuffed and face down on the ground during an arrest.
In a complaint she later filed with Internal Affairs at the Oakland Police Department, she said Quintero made a mistake in reporting that her brother was already in a police car when she arrived at the scene.
At that same arrest, "Officer Keely asked me if I knew Javier was a gang member, and I said no, he's not," Quintero testified. "(Keely) said he's a bad person and he would do what it took to send him to prison and make sure he stayed there."
Keely denied standing on Javier Quintero and said he didn't remember talking to his sister.
However, he said he once arrested Javier Quintero after finding him in a car with a 13- or 14-year-old juvenile along with other adults, a handgun and bags of marijuana for sale. He said that case demonstrated that Javier Quintero has a deeply negative influence on the community's youth.
"Yeah, I believe he belongs in prison," Keely testified. "He's a bad person."
Quintero said she opposes the injunction because "if Javier is seen anywhere outside, at the supermarket or the movies, and he's even near anyone on the list or anyone police say is a gang member, it's an automatic violation. "... It's basically saying he's trapped at home."
The hearing will continue with Keely on the stand again next week.
Contact Sean Maher at 510-208-6430.