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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons
Will OPD Swat Team Actions Ever Be Questioned?
Do The Oakland Police Act Before They Think?
After two motorcycle police officers were killed on Saturday, March 21st, the Oakland SWAT team arrived at an apartment building where the alleged killer, Lavelle Mixon, was thought to be. Instead of waiting and negotiating with Mixon, the SWAT team stormed into an apartment. Two SWAT team members were killed along with Lavelle Mixon. Another SWAT team member, Patrick Gonzales, was injured.
Contrast this with a recent incident in Pittsburgh, PA. where three police officers were killed by a young man. Instead of bursting into the house firing, the police in Pittsburgh waited the suspect out and in the end arrested him without incident.
While we citizens are apparently not supposed to know about policing, I think there are serious questions about the Oakland Police Department SWAT team actions. Did they need to go into the apartment as they did? Could they have waited? What is proper procedure? Did they actually get two of their own killed? Additionally, were they more interested in revenge than in apprehending the suspect?
And this goes to another question: Does the Oakland Police Department act before they think? It seems so and that brings us back to the SWAT team member who was injured in the shoot out: Patrick Gonzales. On September 20th, 2007, OPD member Patrick Gonzales was patrolling in West Oakland when he saw Gary King,Jr. with some of his friends. Gary King, Jr. was a person of interest in a murder that had occurred earlier in the year. It was later disclosed that Gary King,Jr. had no involvement in that murder. Irregardless of the fact that Gary might have been considered dangerous and that he had friends with him, Gonzales took it upon himself to act alone and to confront Gary King,Jr. In the end, Gary King, Jr. was shot in the back and killed by Gonzales under very questionable circumstances. Many call it murder. But was it also a reckless act on Gonzales part? Should he have waited for back-up and waited until the situation was under control. Or was he a cowboy cop that had to take things into his own hands and act without thinking?
In the most recent case, the rash action cost the OPD two of their own. Will anyone in government or the police department ask the needed questions: why couldn’t you have waited? That is unlikely, however, as Oakland government never seems to want to look at situations realistically but instead just brushes things aside. There are liability issues that they may not want to open up as well. Reckless, thoughtless cowboy behavior may be par for the course for OPD but the consequences can be severe for both the public and individual police officers and their families.