Deadly Secrets 

How California law shields a small cadre of Oakland police officers involved in violence.

Page 6 of 6

And while court monitoring is responsible for sweeping policy changes, the department has been criticized by the presiding federal judge. The court's most recent report on OPD's reforms criticized the frequency with which officers aim guns at suspects: approximately 80 times in just three months. Furthermore, Internal Affairs rarely sustains citizen complaints: in 2010, it sustained 116 complaints against OPD officers out of 1,748 filed, or just under 7 percent.

There are also questions about the transparency of investigations of police shootings by other law enforcement agencies. Last November, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office did an about-face by refusing to release its own investigative reports on officer-involved shootings. In April 2010, this reporter obtained eight such investigative reports from the Alameda County DA through a public records request.

Former BART officer Johannes Mehserle is the only police officer charged by the Alameda County DA for a shooting. The DA's more common practice regarding police-shooting investigations was demonstrated last year when it declined to prosecute OPD Officers Eriberto Perez-Angeles and Omar Daza-Quiroz for fatally shooting Derrick Jones, a 37-year-old unarmed barber. Jones, who was on parole, fled from his barbershop after officers responded to a domestic violence call. He was shot multiple times by both officers after they saw him remove a metallic object from his pocket; it was a pocket scale. Both officers had been involved in a fatal shooting two years earlier as well.

In March, the Alameda County DA announced it would not prosecute; Jones' relatives have filed a $10 million wrongful death claim. To mollify protesters, Chief Anthony Batts said he had referred the case to the FBI.

And thanks to Copley, any previous civilian complaints about Perez-Angeles and Daza-Quiroz are confidential records. Unless they shoot again or are sued in court, their conduct is off-limits from the public.

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