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Angry Oakland Police Kill African American Man in Haste; 4 Die, One Critical
After two officers were shot hours earlier, police in Oakland shoot and kill a young African American male suspect when alternative remedies might have been available. Confrontation that could have ended with only one death turns into four.
On Saturday, March 21st, for the second time in recent months, police in Oakland shot and killed a young African American man apparently after prematurely resorting to the use of deadly force when alternative remedies were available. This time, the haste on the part of police caused them to lose two of their own just after two other officers had just been shot, with one killed, at a separate location.
It all started with a routine traffic stop at about 1:15 p.m. near the 7400 block of MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland. Two Oakland motorcycle officers are said to have stopped 26 year-old Lovelle Mixon, an African American man from Oakland. Police allege that Mr. Mixon shot the two traffic officers and then fled.
According to police, about two hours after the shooting, they had information which led them to believe Mr. Mixon was hiding alone in an apartment on 74th Avenue near Hillside Street. At that point, over 200 officers from the Oakland Police, Alameda County Sheriff's Office, BART Police and the California Highway Patrol surrounded the area where Mr. Mixon was believed to be.
However, rather than attempt a carefully planned, negotiated, non-violent ending, and angry over the shooting of the two traffic officers, a hasty Oakland Police Swat Team apparently rushed into the building armed with military rifles, assault weapons and other means of deadly force to use against Mr. Mixon. In the heat of the moment, there was allegedly an exchange of gunfire between Mr. Mixon and the Swat officers. It's not clear yet whether Mr. Mixon fired in self-defense, but no information suggests that he was a threat while he remained there alone. In the exchange of gunfire, Mr. Mixon was killed. Three Swat officers were also shot, two of whom later died.
The incident is still being investigated. Thus far, the Oakland Police have offered no explanation for the Swat Team's departure from ordinary officer safety precautions, such as why it was imminently necessary to storm into the building if they had it surrounded and believed Mr. Mixon was alone or had no reason to believe he had hostages.
According to one police officer who asked not to be identified, police are trained to encourage attempts at negotiations in order to facilitate non-violent outcomes when someone is barricaded or "holed up." The officer said that this is true even when the person hiding out has done something violent or actually has hostages.
Many people are now wondering if the police were hasty, careless or reckless this time because they were angry that someone had shot two of their own. Questions have been raised as to whether their resolve to get revenge influenced what should have been an overriding concern for minimizing the risk of additional violence after one violent confrontation had already occurred.
What is clear, however, is that a young African American man from Oakland who was only a suspect was promptly killed rather than arrested. Although nothing yet suggests that the two motorcycle officers could have avoided their fate, Mr. Mixon's death, and the deaths of the two Swat officers, might very well have been avoided if reasonable attempts to negotiate Mr. Mixon's voluntary exit had been exhausted.