Skip to content

Derrick Jones with daughter

East Oakland barbershop owner shot to death by OPD officers

on November 9, 2010

Neighbors and friends of an unarmed East Oakland barber who was killed by Oakland Police Monday night reacted angrily today to the police account of the shooting.

Derrick Jones, 37, was shot to death by two police officers near the corner of Bancroft Avenue and Trask Street after a foot chase. Police say Jones was shot fewer than five times, shortly after fleeing from officers questioning him inside the Kwik Cuts Barbershop, which Jones owned. Police said the officers were responding to a domestic dispute call between Jones, who was on parole for a firearms offense, and a woman at a nearby laundromat on Bancroft Avenue.

Jones took off running, Oakland Deputy Police Chief Jeff Israel said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Jones did not respond to commands to halt, Israel said, and instead kept reaching for his waistband. At one point, he said, an officer saw an unspecified metal object in Jones’ hands before he looked over his shoulder toward the officers. The two officers then fired on Jones, Israel said, striking him multiple times.  Jones was pronounced dead at the scene, and was unarmed but carrying a metal object, which Israel declined to identify.

But friends and relatives of Jones challenged the Oakland Police version of the shooting, declaring that the barber was a family man who had been shot at least six times in the back.

“This is on the heels of Oscar Grant,” said Kinwood DeVore, a minister at the Church of Christ of West Oakland, where the Jones family worships. DeVore was a Chaplain at the Alameda County Sheriff Department for seven years, and performed almost every invocation for the graduating class of Oakland police officers.

The killing of Oscar Grant, the unarmed man shot to death in January, 2009 by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle, roiled Oakland again last Friday, when Mehserle received what many regarded as a relatively light two-year sentence after his conviction for involuntary manslaughter. Like Jones, Grant was African American. Mehserle was white; the race of the two officers in the Monday night shooting has not been made public.

Jones’ sister, Tanya Saheli (left) and her parents at home after meeting with John Burris, the attorney advising the family of Oscar Grant. “We want to believe justice will be served,” she said.

“I want to know what kind of training these officers received,” DeVore said. “They are trained to deal with suspects, and I know they are not supposed to pull a gun out unless they feel their life is threatened. Derrick was unarmed. They shot an unarmed man six times. OPD is responsible for whatever these officers did.”

Jones’ relatives, barbershop customers and church members filled the block of his house this morning after the news of his death had spread in the community. After the police press conference, a couple dozen returned to Jones’ street, moving in and out of his parents’ house, to console family members and share stories about Jones, known affectionately as Didi, and what they described as his pleasant sense of humor.

“Me and Didi would barbecue everyday at the barbershop,” Bobby Sanders, Jones’ childhood friend, said while laughing. “We’d always compare each other’s cooking. Every night, we’d call our mamas and get a walk through, a step by step of recipes we wanted to cook up.”

Jones is survived by his sister, Tanya Saheli, brother, Frank Jones, two parents and two year old daughter.

“He was a good father, a hard worker,” Sanders said, holding back tears. “He’d bring his kid to the barbershop everyday while her mama was at work.”

The Jones family was well known in the Public Works department. Derrick’s father was a retired Public Works employee, and his brother still works there. “Everybody knew Didi,” Sanders said. “The Public Works city trucks would always honk when they were going past the barbershop.”

John Noble, 63, a close family friend who worked with Derrick’s father, said of Derrick Jones, “He was a pleasant man.  He wasn’t a criminal.”

In the afternoon, Jones’ sister Tanya Saheli, an attorney and recent JFK law school graduate, and her parents said they had already met with John Burris, the attorney who is advising the family of Oscar Grant. “We want to believe justice will be served,” Saheli said. “I know Oscar Grant’s family wanted to believe that, and that didn’t happen.”

The shooting is under investigation by OPD’s Homicide and Internal Affairs units, with an additional investigation being conducted by the Alameda County District Attorney.

Connect with Oakland North on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Lead image: Derrick Jones with daughter Demi at last Sunday’s Oakland Raiders football game. Jones was killed Monday night in a shooting involving Oakland police officers. Photo courtesy of Jones’ friend, Charles Ford. 


  1. Ken O on November 10, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    This is a real black eye for OPD, especially after Oscar Grant.

    Police are reactive. Why wouldn’t they shoot after a suspects STARTS shooting at them? It’s so Israeli/US to be “pre-emptive.”

    But also, why did the guy run from the police? Everyone’s seen the Chris Rock video right?

    This sucks!!!

  2. David on November 11, 2010 at 1:29 am

    It may be questionable why Jones ran from police but it cannot for a moment be used to try and justify the actions of the OPD.

    They shot an unarmed man multiple times in the back.

    He posed no threat to the lives of the officers or anyone else. They had no legal cause to even draw their weapons, much less fire.

    This is police murder.

    Where is the justice?

    • B. Traven on November 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

      Derrick Jones was NOT “shot in the back.” The autopsy found that all bullets struck the front of his body.

      His friends may believe that he was “a pleasant man,” but his criminal record paints a different picture. However “pleasant” he may have been, it was reported that Derrick Jones was a convicted felon on parole who had previously battered women and illegally carried a gun.

  3. Mr. Jones, barber | Rebuilding Oaktown on November 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    […] public story per Oakland North and reason for tonight’s International to Fruitvale BART protest, is that one Mr. Jones ran […]

  4. […] Jones died November 8 after fleeing two Oakland police officers who chased him and then opened fire. Oakland Police Department officials have stated that the officers saw Jones reach for something in his waistband that could have been a weapon. Information later released by the police department revealed that the metallic object Jones carried was a scale used for weighing marijuana. Protests took place outside Jones’ East Oakland barbershop in the days following the shooting. […]

  5. […] shot by an OPD officer New Year’s Eve 2007, Frank and Nellie Jones, parents of Derrick Jones, who was shot last November by Oakland police officers responding to a domestic dispute call; and Jack Bryson, family friend of the late Oscar Grant, who […]

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top