Family Demands Answers
By Ashley Chambers and Ken Epstein
Community members and the family of Demouria Hogg are calling on the Oakland Police Department and City of Oakland officials to release police-recorded videos that will reveal exactly what happened last Saturday
morning in the moment or two before one police officer fired a Taser and a rookie woman officer shot and killed the 30-year-old father of three.
Hogg’s 10-year-old daughter Damaria Hogg wants answers.
“What I wonder is, why did the police shoot him?” Damaria asked in an interview with KTVU Channel 2.
“I want my dad to know that I love him, and I want him to watch over me,” she said.
“He was a father to all of his kids,” said Tylena Livingston, Damaria’s mother. “He was asleep in his car. They could have prevented that. If they tased him, what did he get shot for?”
Teandra Butler, mother of Demouria Hogg Jr., said the hardest part was not being able to tell the children why their father is gone. She wants OPD to answer that question.
At about 7:30 last Saturday morning, Hogg was found asleep or unconscious in a BMW on the Lakeshore Avenue off-ramp of Highway 580. The Oakland Fire Department, instead of trying to awake him, called police when they noticed a gun on the front seat next to the man, according to police.
Over the next hour, police used bullhorns and shot at the car’s windows with beanbag projectiles, but he still did not wake up.
Finally, when he did wake up at about 8:40 a.m. – his car surrounded by about 12 officers – one officer fired a Taser, and he was shot and killed by a woman rookie officer.
OPD so far has not released any of the videos or offered an explanation of what happened in the few moments after Hogg woke up.
However, attorney Steven Betz, who represents the woman officer who killed Hogg, presented her version of events in an interview with the S.F. Chronicle.
When police used a crowbar to break a driver-side window, Hogg “reached over with his hands to the firearm,” and the officer fired her gun twice, according to the attorney.
Betz told the Chronicle his client “absolutely” acted appropriately and could not wait “until he has drawn (his gun) on them.” The officer “knows he’s going for a gun in an area where it is, he’s lunging for it and had been given multiple commands to comply, to surrender.”
Members of the public are looking for leadership from Mayor Libby Schaaf who has been a strong advocate for public safety and improved police-community relations. They want her to ensure that OPD provides full disclosure of what happened and the family gets the answers it wants.
As the family seeks answers, activist Cat Brooks says the community intends to hold the mayor, OPD and the city accountable.
“Mayor Schaaf and the City of Oakland have the opportunity to step up to the plate and show that they hear the community’s concerns…and honor that this family had their family member stolen from them,” said Brooks, chair of the Onyx Organizing Committee and a member of the Anti Police Terror Project.
“We intend to hold them accountable to do just that.”
Mayor Schaaf’s released a statement several days ago but did not respond to questions from the Post.
The Anti Police Terror Project is demanding that the mayor, City and OPD immediately release the names of the officer(s) involved in the shooting and release the dash cam, officers’ body cam and all street surveillance videos of the entire event.
They also want the OPD to release the coroner’s and police reports to the family; and, immediately request that the Attorney General appoint an independent investigator to this case.
They want an independent investigation of the killing because they say Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s close ties to the local police department and her handling of other cases – including the Alan Blueford case in 2012 and the Black Friday 14 – call into question an investigation conducted by her office.
“We do not trust Nancy O’Malley to investigate the Oakland Police Department,” said Brooks, adding that she has “demonstrated racial bias.”
At press time, the District Attorney’s office said they are unable to provide details because the investigation is “active and ongoing.”
In a number of other officer-involved shootings, communities have requested involvement of the State Attorney General to oversee the work of the county district attorney.
Contacted by the Post, a spokesperson for Attorney General Kamala Harris responded: “This is an ongoing investigation. It is important for that process to conclude before we comment.”
City Attorney Barbara Parker was asked by the Post what she was doing to ensure the release of the shooting videos and that the police are fully accountable. Her office replied by email: “You should email (OPD Public Relations Officer) Johnna Watson re: officer’s name and video.”
In an interview with the Post, Civil rights attorney John Burris talked about some of his observations, based on his involvement in investigations of many police shootings.
“The police created the confrontation,” said Burris. “(Hogg) was not out looking for a confrontation. He did he not know the police were there. It seems wrong that a person could be asleep, and he wakes up and gets shot and killed.”
The question, he said, is whether police were in “imminent danger.” Another question is why the department would place a rookie at the car to hold the gun and make the decision to shoot, he said.
“The family has a right to see these videos, sooner rather than later,” Burris continued. “(Police) killed a person who was minding his own business. The family can look at the tapes to see if they corroborate what the police have said. “
The Anti Police Terror Project is holding a vigil for Demouria Hogg on Friday, June 12 at 6 p.m. at the site where he was killed by the gas station at the corner of Lakeshore and Lake Park avenues.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, June 12, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)