Law Enforcement Killed 90 Oakland Residents Since 2000, And 74 Percent Were Black 

Our writers look at the data behind officer-involved killings in the East Bay.

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In February of last year, police shot 38-year-old Oakland resident Yuvette Henderson at the end of a four-block chase, after they suspected her of shoplifting from a Home Depot.

Four months later, it was Demouria Hogg, 30, who Oakland police shot and killed after finding him unconscious in a car with a pistol visible on the passenger seat.

And in July, 23-year-old Richard Linyard, otherwise known as East Oakland rapper Afrikan Richie, died after fleeing police at a traffic stop.

These deadly encounters were just three of the 90 officer-involved killings of Oakland residents since 2000, according to analysis of new data obtained by the Express.

The most alarming discovery: 74 percent of Oakland residents killed by law enforcement between 2000 and 2016 were Black men and women.

More Black residents were killed by police in Oakland than in any other California city besides Los Angeles, which is nearly ten times larger.

Although Oakland has one of the largest Black populations in the state, the percentage of Black fatalities by law enforcement is greater than in U.S. cities nearly as diverse, including New York City, Long Beach, and Boston.

This analysis is based on reporting and statistics from the award-winning website Fatal Encounters (see "About the Data" for more about the statistics and information analyzed in this story).

Nearly all Oakland residents were slain by cops in high-poverty communities in the city's flatlands, the East and West Oakland neighborhoods below Interstate 580. Residents in these areas also demonstrate the East Bay's lowest life expectancies, employment levels, and educational attainment, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department.

There is no clear explanation of why disproportionately more Black men and women die at the hands of police in Oakland than in any other California city. But Jeralynn Blueford, whose son Alan was killed in 2012 by police, thinks racial profiling is to blame.

She said her son's death has been nearly impossible to overcome. "You have an unimaginable amount of pain, it hurts to your core."

UC Berkeley professor Jack Glaser, who studies racial profiling and policing, says that officer-involved fatalities are just a small window into systematic inequalities that affect how different racial groups are policed. He also says law-enforcement leaders aren't doing enough to reduce officer-involved deaths.

"I think the best thing departments can do right now is to reduce the amount of force they're using, period," Glaser told the Express.

The Oakland Police Department says it is implementing new training to curb use of force, including exercises that don't promote forceful action, but instead de-escalation.

But critics are doubtful that law enforcement can change. "It doesn't seem to matter where we go in Oakland," said Nanci Armstrong-Temple, a Berkeley City Council candidate and a member of the Anti Police-Terror Project. "There is not a place in Oakland where Black people are safe from the police."


click to enlarge A look at officer-involved fatalities in Oakland, based on data from FatalEncounters.com. - DESIGN BY ROXANNE PASIBE
  • DESIGN BY ROXANNE PASIBE
  • A look at officer-involved fatalities in Oakland, based on data from FatalEncounters.com.


Black Deaths and the Data

Since 2000, Oakland's 90 officer-involved killings were the fourth most in California, trailing only Los Angeles (321), San Diego (102), and Fresno (101).

The Express' analysis examined all civilian fatalities due to interactions with police. This encompasses more than just officer-involved shootings to include other causes of death, such as by Taser, asphyxiation, or vehicular chases.

We found that the proportion of Black individuals killed by cops in Oakland was more than double that in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento. (See our infographics on officer-involved killings in California, above.)

This can be attributed in part to the fact that Oakland has one of the largest Black populations in the state, 28 percent of the city's residents. The statewide average is just 6.5 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau.

There is an undeniable relationship between a city's demographic breakdown and the race most represented in its pool of fatalities, according to national data. In Los Angeles, for example, where the population is 48 percent Latino, the largest share of officer-involved fatalities (42 percent) are Latino individuals.

But Oakland's percentage of Black fatalities is higher than other California cities with significant Black populations. This includes Inglewood, where 68 percent of known-race fatalities were Black; Compton (48 percent), and Hawthorne (40 percent). In the City of Los Angeles, the U.S. Census data says that 9 percent of the population is Black, but some 33 percent of those killed by law enforcement were Black. The same trend of increased Black fatalities exists in San Francisco, where the Black population is 6 percent, but 24 percent of individuals who were killed by police were Black. (It's worth noting that data from these other cities is incomplete, because we don't know the race of all individuals who died at the hands of police.)

Fatal encounters involving Black Oakland residents are also much higher than other U.S. cities with similarly large Black populations.

For instance, in Raleigh, N.C. — a city with almost the same size population (451,000) and proportion of Black residents (29 percent) as Oakland — there were just twelve officer-involved fatalities overall between 2000 and 2015.

Suffolk County in Massachusetts, which encompasses the City of Boston and surrounding areas, has a population nearly twice the size of Oakland's. It has seen just 27 officer-involved fatalities over the same period.

In Oakland, most fatalities were the result of police gunfire (53). Others died as suspects or bystanders in car chases with law enforcement, or because of asphyxiation, bludgeoning, or cardiac arrest during the process of arrest.

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