Attorneys, victims speak out against OPD after Occupy Oakland car accident
on November 12, 2011
The attorneys representing the two people who were hit by a car during the Occupy Oakland strike march on November 2 held a press conference Friday at the Waterfront Hotel downtown, calling for the arrest of the man and woman who were in the vehicle during the accident. The attorneys also criticized the Oakland Police Department for not making any arrests and for the way officers have been conducting the investigation.
Enlarged images of the two victims, the driver of the car, the car’s license plate number, and a poster filled with text urging people to come forth as witnesses were placed at the front of the conference room. All of the pictures were taken by eyewitnesses.
“This is not a hard crime to solve,” said attorney Simona Farrise, who represents one of the victims, as she pointed to the picture of the man who allegedly drove the car that rammed her client. “No arrests have been made nine days later, and there seems to be no concern.”
According to the police report that was included in the media kit handed out during the press conference, the accident happened during the strike at about at 7:34 p.m. as the two victims, Margaret So and Lance Laverdure, were walking across 11th Street and Broadway. Both So and Laverdure were participating in the march when they tried to cross the street, when, according to the police report, an unidentified man struck both of them with a Mercedes Benz while a crowd of witnesses watched. Neither the man’s name nor license plate number was included in the report.
Laverdure recounted the incident in a recorded video interview that was played at the Friday press conference. “We were walking up Broadway,” he said. “I had Margaret on my right. I noticed him [the driver] to the right, and I put up my hands like, ‘Ayee.’ It was almost like jokingly because it was like, ‘You’re not going to like hit us, because we’re right here.’” After that, Laverdure said, the car moved closer until it was about six inches away from them.
“Then, I have to look at the driver and wave my hands, like, ‘What are you doing? Why can’t you just let us by?’” Soon after, Laverdure said, the car nudged his legs. Laverdure said that he slapped the hood and said, “What the fuck are you doing?”
The car continued to move forward, hitting both Laverdure and So, he said.
BART police officers were the first on the scene. “BART police were in contact with OPD, who has jurisdiction on the street,” said Jim Allison, the deputy chief communications officer for BART police, speaking by phone. “The OPD directed BART to gather necessary information, release the driver and leave the area.”
“All of the information was provided to the OPD early this week—either Monday or Tuesday,” Allison added.
According to Farrise, who spoke during Friday’s press conference, so far, the Oakland Police Department has only contacted one of the victims, and none of the eyewitnesses. During the press conference, Farrise said that a police officer interviewed Laverdure once while he was in the hospital to take his statement. The police report stated the officer did not observe any injuries on Laverdure, and the officer did not take photos.
But Laverdure said he had a bruised kidney. “They had me under watch for about 40 hours,” Laverdure said in the recorded interview.
In her taped interview, So said she had a broken ankle. “They’re a number of screws and hardware keeping my bones together right now,” she said.
In their interviews, both of them spoke about their frustration with the Oakland police. “I don’t think the police have started an investigation,” said So. “I’m surprised that I haven’t gotten a call or anything from the police department.”
“It’s extremely and almost disturbingly irresponsible to do what that guy did,” Laverdure said between sniffles. “We want answers. We want this person arrested for the attempted murder of Margaret and myself. We want whoever is responsible for this to be held responsible for this.”
“We would like to get an answer, and we also like to have the laws of the state of California enforced,” Farrise said at the press conference. “It would be our request that law enforcement in the state of California arrests this person. And that goes all the way up to top law enforcement officer, which is California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, because there is something clearly questionable about if there was an investigation, how it was conducted, and what happened here.”
“We are going to bring this man to justice, we are going to hold this man accountable, even if the OPD will not do their jobs,” said Pamela Price, So’s attorney.
The spokesperson for the Oakland Police Department did not return calls or emails related to this story.
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