OAKLAND -- The two city police officers who killed an East Oakland barber after a foot chase last year were justified in believing the man had a gun and that their lives were in danger, a report by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office concluded.
Police Officers Eriberto Perez-Angeles and Omar Daza-Quiroz followed their training and reacted reasonably when they shot an unarmed Derrick Jones, 37, nine times after he ignored their orders to show his hands as he was standing against a fence near the corner of Seminary Avenue and Trask Street, the report states.
As a result, neither officer will be charged with a crime.
"In the present case, both officers fired their weapons in the belief that they or their fellow officer was about to be shot by Mr. Derrick Jones," according to the report, written by assistant district attorney Richard Klemmer. "Their belief was actual and reasonable based on the circumstances, including the fact that Mr. Jones continued to conceal his hands and keep them in the area of his waistband."
The killing occurred Nov. 8, 2010, sparking several protests as, once again, it highlighted concerns and anger from some in Oakland who continue to feel police are not being held accountable for killing suspects. It occurred just three months after a Los Angeles jury found former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter instead of murder for killing an unarmed passenger.
Jones' family along with many activists called for criminal charges as they urged District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to charge the officers with murder. But O'Malley's office found that neither officer could be arrested or charged because both acted with reason when they decided to chase Jones and then shoot him after he ignored their orders to show his hands.
"Given the totality of the circumstances as presented and corroborated by civilian witnesses and the physical evidence recovered, it appears that (the officers) actually and reasonably believed they were in imminent danger of great bodily injury or death," the report states.
Jones' mother, Nellie Jones, said she was not satisfied with the report and continues to believe that her son did listen to police and was shot while both his hands were in the air.
"This is ridiculous, I am appalled, I am very disappointed and I am hurt," said Jones, whose family filed a $10 million wrongful death claim against the city. "Every time they talk to someone, they tend to come up with a different story than what we are hearing."
The events that lead to Jones' death began when Perez-Angeles and Daza-Quiroz were flagged down by a woman who said she was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of Jones. The woman, who the officers said appeared physically and emotionally harmed, told Perez-Angeles and Daza-Quiroz that Jones was at his barber shop on the 5800 block of Bancroft Avenue and they found him there locking the front door, according to the report.
When confronted by the officers, Jones ran away, keeping his hands in his waistband area, the report states. During the foot chase, the report states, the officers saw a shiny metal object in Jones's hand and believed it was a gun. The shiny object was later determined to be a scale. Eventually, the officers caught Jones and cornered him against a fence where two witnesses said they heard the officers yelling at Jones to show his hands, the report states.
Jones ignored the commands, the report states, and instead "turned towards the officers, squared himself up and reached his left hand into the left pocket of his jeans where officer Daza-Quiroz observed a bulge." Both officers fired their weapons with Daza-Quiroz shooting Jones seven times and Perez-Angeles shooting him twice.
Jones was pronounced dead at the scene.
Klemmer concluded that both officers were "reasonable" in believing their lives were in danger given that they were responding to a domestic dispute and the woman reporting an assault appeared to have physical injuries. The officers also had the right to believe Jones was armed because he ignored their orders and appeared to be carrying a shiny object in a neighborhood known for gun violence, Klemmer wrote.
"There is a lack of evidence to support a prosecution against either officer," the report states.
Oakland attorney John Burris, who is representing Jones' family in its $10 million claim against the city, said he is not surprised by the district attorney's report. Burris said his office has also conducted an investigation and has found some witnesses who contradict what the officers and the witnesses in the district attorney's report said.
"I am not certain this is that clear-cut," Burris said of the facts. "I certainly have conducted my own investigation and interviewed several witnesses who contradict those statements."