Redacted police documents on Blueford killing go public
on October 5, 2012
In the early morning hours of May 6, 18 year-old Alan Blueford was with two other individuals in East Oakland, on the 1900 block of 90th Avenue, when the group was approached by two Oakland police officers who thought they might have a gun.
When the officers were detaining the individuals, Blueford fled, running east on Olive St., turning south on 92nd Avenue and then east on Birch St. Oakland police officer Miguel Masso gave chase.
Shortly afterward, Blueford was dead, lying face up on the driveway of 9230 Birch in his blue jeans and black Nikes, with three bullet holes in his torso.
These details and more are part of a series of redacted reports, released online by the Oakland Police Department Wednesday, that provide the fullest publicly available police documentation to date on what happened during those early morning hours in the fatal police shooting of the Skyline High senior. The posted documents include multiple crime reports, a radio transcript of the incident, the autopsy report, a report from the crime scene technician, and a criminalistics lab report, in addition to releases already made public.
The documents are heavily censored. In many instances, thick black lines block out the names, addresses, and other personal information of witnesses—all efforts, according to the Oakland Police Department, to protect the witnesses’ anonymity and safety.
Blueford’s death, the latest in a series of officer-involved shootings in Oakland, has prompted public outcry in recent weeks. Protesters shut down a city council meeting two weeks ago, and on Tuesday night crowded into the same building before hundreds were locked out.
Blueford’s parents, accompanied and supported by protesters, demanded at both meetings that police and city council members release to them the police reports detailing Blueford’s death, documents which may have answered the questions of why and how their son was killed.
Now they have been released. While the reports do not necessarily provide additional revelations beyond what has already entered the public record, they do provide a more detailed narrative of the morning’s events.
In the 110-page Oakland Police Department crime reports, which out of all the posted documents recount the events of May 6 most directly, police provide detailed accounts of interviews with more than two dozen witnesses. Narratives written by more than 45 different police personnel describe officers conducting traffic control at the scene, canvassing for evidence and witnesses, and setting up crime tape.
According to the crime reports, there was a party going in the backyard of the residence in front of which Blueford was killed. But because of the heavy censoring, it is difficult for the reader to have a clear idea of what exactly is being blocked from public view in accounts of the events. For example, after a paragraph describing the first police other than Masso to arrive on the scene, an entire three-line paragraph is blacked out. At other times, fragments of sentences have been redacted. For example, in one line of a police report written by Oakland police Sergeant Terrance West, West writes “Masso was suffering from a GSW (gun shot wound) to the [censored].”
In the reports, witnesses recount to police portions of the chase that led Blueford and Masso to the house on Birch. They describe Blueford trying to get through the chain link gate at the residence, failing, and falling to the ground.
Then most of the accounts describe Masso standing about five feet away from Blueford, near the driveway. Several witnesses, according to the accounts, told police Masso was pointing his gun at Blueford, and that a series of three to five shots were fired. In the reports, no witnesses were able to say definitively who initiated the gunfire.
While several witnesses describe Blueford moving on the sidewalk before he was shot, or trying to get up, or reaching toward his waistband, only two of the accounts suggest Blueford shot at Masso first. Other than that, no witnesses told police that Blueford explicitly threatened Masso in any way, according to the witnesses’ statements to police in the reports.
Minutes after shots were fired, according to witness statements in the report, other police units arrived.
“Once on scene, they observed Ofc. Masso with his handgun still pointed at S1, who was laying motionless on the ground,” witness testimony in the crime report states. “Ofc. Brown and Curtin both stated that S1 did not appear to be moving and they also noticed that the officer was shot.”
In the crime reports, Blueford is often referred to as S1 or John Doe.
In the reports, police also identify another handgun — a Sig Sauer P230, according to a report written by an Oakland police crime scene technician — that was recovered at the scene.
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