OAKLAND — After the fatal shootings of four Oakland police officers March 21, a group called the Calguns Foundation wanted to know what kind of guns — exactly — Lovelle Mixon used when he killed the officers.
That question is now at the center of a legal struggle between the Redwood City-based gun-rights organization and the city of Oakland, with Calguns saying the public has a right to know what kind of weapons were used and the city arguing that the information it could hinder an ongoing police investigation into how Mixon, who was a wanted parolee when he went on his killing rampage, got his weapons.
One reason Calguns is pursuing the case is that shortly after the March 21 tragedy, legislation was introduced by state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, calling for additional restrictions on ammunition magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. Lawmakers cited the officers' deaths in pushing for the legislation.
Calguns maintains that without additional information, it is impossible to tell whether the weapons in question — a semi-automatic pistol and an SKS rifle — had magazines with more than 10 rounds.
"This terrible event, with Lovelle Mixon killing the four officers, was apparently used as a springboard for (the proposed legislation)," said Kevin Thomason, an attorney for Calguns. "If they weren't in fact high-capacity magazines, the public has a right to know this potential law is based
The bill, introduced in April, would require owners to register ammunition magazines capable of containing 10 or more rounds. The bill was sent to the Senate Public Safety Committee, where a hearing was canceled at Hancock's request.
"We were hearing that law enforcement organizations were going to oppose it and that the attorney general's office had concerns about cost. There were some concerns raised about how to stamp all the magazines with serial numbers that were already legally possessed," said Hans Hemann, Hancock's chief of staff. "We are seeing if we can address some of those issues over the fall and will decide what we do with the bill in December."
The bill aside, the city argues that it has complied with a California Public Records Act request from Calguns by providing general descriptions of the guns as a "semi-automatic pistol" and "an assault-type rifle." Any further description, the city asserts, could hinder the investigation.
"Giving a gun or selling a gun to a parolee is a federal crime," said Mark Morodomi, the attorney working the case for City Attorney John Russo's office. "We can't do anything that would prejudice that investigation."
Calguns disagrees that the investigation would be hampered.
A judge sided with the city after Calguns filed an initial petition but allowed the group to amend their filing. A new petition was filed Sept. 10. The city has 30 days to reply.
A contract for Anthony Batts, whom Mayor Ron Dellums tapped last month to be Oakland's next police chief, is up for approval Tuesday and would include $33,261 per year in educational incentive pay on top of a base salary of $221,739.
The extra pay is consistent with the contract between the city and the Oakland Police Officers Association's management bargaining unit, according to a city staff report. That deal provides an additional 5 percent of base salary for a bachelor's degree, master's degree and Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training management certificate — each of which Batts has. He also has a doctorate in public administration.
Overall, Batts would be paid $255,000 annually. His contract would last three years.
In an interview with the Tribune this week, Batts said he was ready to get started in Oakland. He said he is taking on a "huge challenge" by accepting the Oakland police chief job, regarded as one of the toughest in law enforcement.
"I'm not afraid of failing at this," he said. "I'm going to go in here and do the very best that I can. I'm going to give my heart, and I'm going to give my soul to it."
Batts has been police chief in Long Beach since 2002.
Also Tuesday "...
The council is expected to vote on a $1.5 million settlement with the family of Gary King Jr., who was killed in September 2007 by an Oakland police officer. In addition, the council could roll back parking-meter enforcement hours from 8 p.m. to 6 p.m. after significant public outcry.
The council's first full meeting since its summer recess will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.
Staff writer Josh Richman contributed to this story. Reach Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435.