After hearing closing arguments today, a federal court civil jury must decide if two Oakland police officers acted reasonably when they fatally shot barbershop owner Derrick Jones during a confrontation in East Oakland in November 2010. Ayanna Jenkins-Toney, who represents Jones’ widow, Lanell Monique Jones, in her civil rights and wrongful death suit against officers Eriberto Perez and Omar Daza-Quiroz, said the officers had no reason to shoot Jones because he didn’t have a gun or any other type of weapon when they confronted him near his barbershop in the 5800 block of Bancroft Avenue at about 9:15 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2012. Jenkins-Toney said Jones, 37, who was on parole for an illegal gun conviction, “was just a businessman and father and husband who wound up dead because a cop wanted to get lethal.”
She was referring to Daza-Quiroz’s statement to police investigators after the incident that, “I wanted to get lethal in case something happened and he (Jones) went back and grabbed something.” But the officers’ attorney, Aimee Hamoy-Perera, painted a completely different picture of the incident, saying that the two officers shot Jones only because they feared for their lives when he appeared to reach for his waistband after fleeing from the officers for more than two blocks and refusing to obey at least five commands to surrender and show his hands. The two officers fired a total of nine shots at Jones, hitting him six times. An autopsy disclosed that Jones suffered gunshot wounds to his chest, abdomen, right thigh, right knee, lower right leg and lower left leg. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
No weapon was found at the scene, but officers found a small metal scale and a small amount of marijuana, police said. Hamoy-Perera said the officers thought Jones might have a gun because at one point they heard a heavy metal sound that they sounded like a firearm that had been dropped to the ground and they thought they noticed a bulge in Jones’ pants that indicated he could be armed. She said Perez-Angeles and Daza-Quiroz initially approached Jones after his girlfriend, Latoia Whitaker, flagged them down them at Bancroft and Seminary avenues to tell them that Jones had tried to strangle and kill her in an argument at his barbershop. Hamoy-Perera said then the officers first approached Jones he denied his name, alleging that he did so “because he knows they’re asking about the crime he committed.”
She said that when Jones took off running the officers had an obligation to try to catch him “because he is dangerous and can come back and hurt Miss Whitaker or someone else.” However, Jenkins-Toney alleged that she believes the reason Jones fled is that “he was afraid they would do what they ultimately did, that they were going to kill him.” She said Jones “was shot in cold blood in the street.” The suit in U.S. District Court in Oakland also named the city of Oakland as a defendant but Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who is presiding over the case, dismissed the claim against the city today, ruling that Jenkins-Toney failed to prove that it was liable.
The suit seeks unspecified damages for Lanell Monique Jones for the loss of Derrick Jones’ financial support and the loss of his love, companionship and enjoyment of sexual relations. But Hamoy-Perez said Lanell Monique Jones shouldn’t receive any damages even if the jury finds that the two officers acted improperly because she and Derrick Jones “had a troubled marriage” and had been separated for many years. Hamoy-Perez said Derrick Jones fathered a daughter with one other woman and had spent most of his time with Whitaker after he was released from San Quentin State Prison in 2009 and proposed to Whitaker in 2010. “The evidence is that Mr. Jones was done (with Lanell Monique Jones) and had moved on to a new relationship,” Hamoy-Perez said.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office investigated the shooting and cleared Perez-Angeles and Daza-Quiroz of any criminal wrongdoing, saying the officers reasonably believed they were in imminent danger of great bodily injury or death. Jones’s death provoked protest marches by community members who alleged that the officers shouldn’t have shot Jones because he was unarmed. Jurors will begin deliberating Monday morning.
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