OPD May be Breaking Law by Withholding Name of Officer Who Killed Hogg
By Ken Epstein
Almost six weeks after the shooting death of Demouria Hogg, the Oakland Police Department and the City of Oakland have not released information related to the killing, including the name of the OPD officer who shot Hogg or the video evidence, police reports or coroner’s reports.
A Public Records Act request to OPD from the Post was denied on June 18.
On July 14, a police spokesperson told the Post, “The investigation is still ongoing, and because there are multiple investigations (OPD, Internal Affairs and the DA’s office), the release of information will take some time. Additionally, we are not releasing the name of the officer due to officer safety concerns.”
However, a May 2014 ruling of the California Supreme Court indicates that OPD may be in violation of the state law in refusing to release the officer’s name.
“If it is essential to protect an officer’s anonymity for safety reasons or for reasons peculiar to the officer’s duties — as, for example, in the case of an undercover officer — then the public interest in disclosure of the officer’s name may need to give way,” according to the ruling. “That determination, however, would need to be based on a particularized showing.”
“Vague safety concerns that apply to all officers involved in shootings are insufficient to tip the balance against disclosure of officer names,” the ruling said.
“This is big decision,” said attorney James Chanin, who is involved in the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA) that resulted in Judge Thelton Henderson’s oversight of OPD.
“There is a presumption that the public has a right to know the identities of officers involved in shooting incidents,” said Chanin.
The Post contacted City Attorney Barbara Parker, asking her legal opinion on OPD’s refusal to release the officer’s name. By press time, she did not reply.
Hogg, 30, a Hayward resident, was killed on Saturday, June 6 near Lake Merritt. At about 7:30 a.m., Oakland firefighters saw a man unconscious or asleep in a BMW stopped on the Lakeshore Avenue exit of Interstate 580.
When firefighters saw a handgun on the passenger seat, they called police, who arrived and set up a perimeter around the car.
Police repeated attempted to wake the man, using a bullhorn and tried to break the car windows with beanbag rounds. When Hogg awoke, one officer fired a Taser, and a second officer shot him with her gun. Hogg was taken to Highland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
OPD Chief Sean When had originally said in a press conference after the shooting that the name of the officer who killed Hogg would be released shortly. Since then, OPD has changed its mind.
A local group, Anti Police-Terror Project, held a demonstration on June 12 at the site of Hogg’s death, demanding that police release any footage that captured the shooting and police or coroners reports.
Relatives also have demanded that an independent investigator be brought in to investigate the fatal shooting.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, July 17, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)