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No charges against Hassani foster dad

on September 1, 2009

Authorities have declined to charge either of the foster parents jailed last week on suspicion of murdering five-year-old Hassani Campbell, and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office canceled a scheduled afternoon arraignment of the boy’s foster father today.

The Fremont boy’s foster parents, his biological aunt Jennifer Campbell and her fiance Louis Ross, had been arrested and held last week on suspicion of murder.  But Jennifer Campbell was released Monday. This afternoon, after police said there was insufficient evidence to proceed with Ross’ arraignment, Oakland attorney John Burris said Ross would shortly be freed from jail.

Despite doubts surrounding the strength of the investigation into the high-profile case, Oakland Police chief Howard Jordan said the department will continue to investigate the whereabouts of the boy.  Ross and Jennifer Campbell have said the boy went missing in Rockridge a little over two weeks ago, but investigators still question that claim, Jordan said.

“We respect the D.A.’s opinion,” he said.  “But we have some more work to do here, and we’re going to work diligently to try and solve this case.”

At the press briefing, Officer Jeff Thomason passed out photographs and videos that allegedly contain images of Campbell at a Fremont Wal-Mart before he went missing.  According to Thomason, the video–which contains indistinct of images a young boy in the store, alternately holding the hands of a  female adult, walking in the aisles, and riding in a shopping cart–is part of the evidence making investigators believe the boy never went to Shuz of Rockridge, the College Avenue business where Ross and Campbell say he disappeared from a car momentarily parked behind the store.

Thomason said nobody other than Ross and Campbell can independently verify that they saw the boy at Shuz of Rockridge and that the Wal-Mart video is the last physical image they have of him before he disappeared.

“We don’t have any independent source putting him at College Avenue that day,” Thomason said.

Burris, who is acting as an advisor for the accused couple, said by phone that the evidence is still too weak to have justified an arrest.

“It was a poor police tactic, and they jumped the gun,” Burris said by phone.

Burris, a high-profile attorney who has worked with clients including Barry Bonds and Tupac Shakur, has had past victories against the Oakland Police Department including a $10.9 million class-action lawsuit in the high-profile Riders Case.

He filed a $25 million lawsuit earlier this year in the January shooting of Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale BART station.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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