District Attorney’s report: Officer justified in Alan Blueford shooting
on October 9, 2012
Oakland Police Officer Miguel Masso was justified in shooting and killing Alan Blueford and prosecutors will not press charges based on their investigation, a report released Tuesday by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office states.
Masso had probable cause to believe Blueford, an 18-year-old Skyline High senior, posed a serious threat to him and other people when he shot Blueford three times on May 6, according to the report. The report contains a detailed narrative of the morning’s events, which relies upon statements from Masso, another officer and several other witnesses. According to the report, Masso and one out of 39 civilian witnesses who were interviewed by police after the incident saw Blueford pointing a handgun directly at Masso before Masso fired.
The report describes Masso and another officer, Joe Fesmire, patrolling the area when they noticed Blueford and two other men, 18-year-old Ronell Obelton and a 15-year-old. The group looked nervously at the officers and crowded together, while Obelton moved his hand towards his waistband, which led Masso and Fesmire to believe that Obelton may have been checking for a gun, according to the report. Masso and Fesmire believed that it was likely that one of the young men in the group illegally had a gun, according to statements from both officers in the report.
According to a statement from Obelton summarized in the report, Obelton did not know Blueford. Blueford was attempting to sell marijuana to Obelton and the younger teenager, but Masso and Fesmire’s patrol car pulled up during the transaction, so Blueford attempted to blend in with the other young men, Obelton’s statement in the report reads.
The officers instructed the men to sit on the sidewalk, according to the report. Just after Blueford sat down on the sidewalk, he got up and ran, not stopping despite Masso’s requests for him to stop, the report states. Masso said he saw Blueford pull a gun out of his waistband, according to the report.
Ten feet short of the driveway at 9230 Birch Street where he was ultimately shot, Blueford turned around and pointed the handgun at Masso, the report states.
“This was the first time that a gun had been pointed at Officer Masso and he stated that it was the first time in his life that he thought someone was going to kill him. He explained, ‘I was scared… It scared the living crap out of me.’ Officer Masso went into ‘auto pilot’ and could no longer hear,” the report reads.
Moments later, Masso shot, believing his life was in danger, according to the report. Masso’s first shot—he said he did not know whether it hit Blueford or not—caused Blueford to trip and fall, gun still in hand and with it still pointed at Masso, the report states.
So Masso fired more shots for a total of four, at one point moving backwards. This is when Masso believes he shot himself in the foot, the report continues.
According to the report, the ammunition magazine of a black handgun found at the scene had a fingerprint that matched Blueford’s left thumb. The gun was stolen last November from a peace officer’s home in Mountain House, California, twelve miles from Blueford’s Tracy, California residence, according to the report.
Masso previously worked as a police officer for the Morgan Hill Police Department, New York Police Department, and as a military police officer with the Army, the report states.
The report, written by Senior Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Mifsud, is the result of an investigation by the District Attorney’s Officer Involved Shooting team, which always conducts separate investigations into incidents in which someone dies and a peace officer is involved, according to the report.
“It is the conclusion of Senior Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Mifsud that there is not sufficient evidence to proceed against Officer Masso in this case,” the report states.
The district attorney’s report concludes one of at least four investigations into Blueford’s death, which many have asserted was an unnecessary and criminal abuse of police power. 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 on September 18, and on October 2 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 they believed may have answered questions about why and how their son was killed.
Redacted police reports released October 3 by the Oakland Police Department contained witness statements describing a chase between Masso and Blueford and two other individuals in East Oakland, which ended with Blueford on the ground in front of a home. According to the police reports, Masso then fired four shots, three that hit Blueford and one that hit Masso’s foot. (In these reports, initial statements by Masso indicated Blueford had shot him, but police later said Masso had inflicted his own gunshot wound.)
The Oakland Police Department released a statement Tuesday afternoon stating that their staff would not comment on the findings of the District Attorney’s report as an Internal Affairs investigation is still ongoing. Police also said they would conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting, and the Citizen’s Police Review Board has an open investigation as well.
Read the District Attorney’s report here.
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