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A report by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office says two Oakland police officers were justified in fatally shooting two suspects who were allegedly participating in an attempt to murder a man from a rival gang last year. Senior Deputy District Attorney Ken Misfud said in the report, which was completed Dec. 21 but wasn’t released until this week, that there is a lack of evidence to support a prosecution against either of the two officers. Davon Jackson, 30, and John Sloan, 23, were killed in a confrontation with Capt. Ersie Joyner, Officer Cesar Garcia and other officers on Curran Avenue in East Oakland on May 18, 2011.
Oakland police say wiretapping information developed by police and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigators revealed that Jackson and Sloan were part of a team of suspects headed by 29-year-old Patrick Shields that wanted to kill a man from a rival gang. Misfud said in the report that Joyner assembled a group of officers to prevent the murder of the rival gang member from taking place. The report says officers stopped a car with Jackson, Sloan and a third man, Wynn Brewer, now 30, inside and asked the men to show their hands but they didn’t comply and Brewer ran away, carrying a semi-automatic handgun. Misfud said Sloan got out of the car carrying a silver handgun and had what Garcia characterized as an “aggressive” look on his face.
According to Misfud, Sloan failed to comply with the officers’ command to drop his gun and show his hands so Garcia “made the decision to neutralize the threat posed by Mr. Sloan” and fired two to four rounds at him but missed. Joyner followed Sloan and ordered him to drop his gun but Sloan turned his gun around and pointed it at Joyner, so Joyner shot and killed him because he feared for his life, the report says. Jackson raised one of his hands when Garcia and other officers ordered him to show his hands but he kept his other hand around his waist and then reached for something in the car, Misfud said.
“Officer Garcia believed that Mr. Jackson was reaching for a gun and fired two or three rounds from his firearm,” killing Jackson, according to the report. Sloan dropped his firearm from the location where he was standing when he pointed it at Joyner but no firearm was located on or near Jackson, Misfud said. Brewer was arrested nearby a short time later. Misfud concluded, “The shooting of Mr. Sloan was justifiable because Capt. Joyner reasonably believed Mr. Sloan posed a threat of serious or deadly harm to Capt. Joyner or others at or near the scene.
” He said the shots fired by Garcia that killed Jackson “were justifiable because Officer Garcia reasonably believed Mr. Jackson posed a threat of serious or lethal harm to himself or others at or near the scene.” Misfud added that it was reasonable for Garcia to fear Jackson based on the wiretapping information because “he knew Mr. Jackson had come to the area to kill someone.” Oakland attorney John Burris filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in April against Joyner, Garcia, the Police Department and the city of Oakland on behalf of the families of Sloan and Jackson.
Burris said today that he believes Sloan and Jackson, who both were on parole for illegal gun and drug convictions, weren’t posing a threat to the officers when they were shot. Burris also said he’s not surprised that the report concluded that the shootings were justified, saying, “I expect the district attorney to support the police.” In addition, he noted that the standard for supporting criminal charges against the officers is much higher than the standard for proving in a civil court that they violated the civil rights of Sloan and Jackson.
Burris said the seven-month delay in releasing the report to the public “heightens the distrust of the Sloan and Jackson families toward law enforcement.” He said, “In the name of transparency this report should have been released sooner rather than later.” Three weeks ago the District Attorney’s Office filed premeditate attempted murder charges and other charges against Shields, Brewer, Cyrico Robinson, 25, and Willie Pope, 32, for their alleged attempts to kill the rival gang member.
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