Blueford family and supporters denounce DA’s investigation
on October 17, 2012
The investigation by the district attorney’s office into the death of Alan Blueford at the gun of an Oakland police officer was biased and slipshod, Blueford’s family and supporters said at a press conference on the steps of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
The prosecutor’s investigation, released one week ago, said Oakland police officer Miguel Masso was justified in shooting and killing 18-year-old Alan Blueford in the early morning hours of May 6 in East Oakland. Blueford’s parents and their supporters slammed the investigation, which they said was fraught with inconsistencies and did not attempt to look objectively at all the evidence.
“I believe there are district attorneys that would be embarrassed by the shoddiness of this report,” said Walter Riley, an attorney who is advising Blueford’s parents, Adam and Jeralynn Blueford, and their supporters.
Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, declined to comment further on the report or the Blueford case earlier Tuesday afternoon.
Over the last week, Alan Blueford’s parents had remained silent about the district attorney’s findings. But late Tuesday afternoon, about 50 people gathered on the concrete courthouse steps to hear their response to the investigation.
“We will not take this in our community,” said Jeralynn Blueford, standing among a handful of family members clad in white t-shirts displaying Alan’s picture and text, “Justice 4 Alan Blueford.”
Jeralynn and Adam Bluefords’ faces were solemn as they addressed the crowd. Jeralynn Blueford emotionally described the pain of what it was like not to see her son in his room anymore.
“I am Alan Blueford now,” she said.
The response to the district attorney’s report put together by the Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition raised a number of questions, including the following:
How was the handgun Blueford was alleged to have been pointing at Masso found about 20 feet away from Blueford? Most of the witness statements in the police reports released earlier this month indicate Blueford was on the ground before the shooting started, so how does the district attorney’s report take into account Masso’s statement, which indicates Masso had shot at Blueford, causing him to trip? Why was there no report from Oakland’s Shotspotter technology, which detects gunshots and automatically generates an alert for police, that allowed the district attorney to gauge when the shots were fired, to corroborate or disprove Masso’s story that he shot when Blueford pointed a gun at him, and then shot again when Blueford was on the ground? Why did the district attorney’s inspectors fail to note in their report that, according to witnesses interviewed by police, Blueford’s last words were something to the nature of “I didn’t do anything”?
Read the Blueford supporters response to the district attorney’s report here.Supporters delivered documents outlining their concerns to the district attorney’s office before the press conference.
Civil rights attorney John Burris, who filed a motion in court earlier this month to have the federal government take over part of the police department, attended the demonstration Tuesday and also criticized the district attorney’s report.
“The investigation and the quality of the investigation should be at a very high level,” Burris told the crowd. “And that was not attained in this case.”
The district attorney’s report, released October 9, concluded that Masso had probable cause to believe Blueford, a Skyline High senior, posed a “threat of serious harm” to him and other people when he shot Blueford three times on May 6.
The report contains a detailed narrative of the events of the early morning hours of May 6, relying upon statements from Masso, another officer and several other named and unnamed witnesses. According to the report, Masso, and one out of multiple civilian witnesses interviewed by police after the incident, saw Blueford pointing a handgun directly at Masso before Masso fired.
“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,” the report reads. “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 district attorney’s report concluded 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.
Supporters at Tuesday’s demonstration said they would like to see potential state or federal investigations into Blueford’s death.
“This is not going to go away–justice has not been served,” said Eric Anderson, a Crockett resident and part of the supporters’ group, Justice for Alan Blueford, standing on the courthouse’s steps. “We believe Officer Masso needs to be fired or needs to be prosecuted.”
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