Op-Ed by Scott Castruita, San Jose Police Sergeant (Retired)
To Oakland Firefighter Keith Jones,
I saw your recent interview on a KPIX television newscast, where you stated that you were profiled by an Oakland police officer and that your sons were traumatized because of this. You also stated, the officer continually demanded that your 9 and 12 year old children hold their hands up and that you were scared the officer might shoot you because the officer had his hand on his gun.
In fact the officer’s gun was in the holster and was never drawn or pointed at you or your children. You stated that you felt you were mistreated because of your race and “I think they view black males as a threat”. You also said the officer could have at least apologized while explaining what happen. You said that now your kids will view officers differently because of this incident. The news reporter also stated that you made a complaint against the police officer.
Fortunately, the police officer was wearing a body camera that recorded the entire incident. Though the video is not clear, the audio proves beyond a doubt that your version of the incident was distorted and inaccurate.
Let’s break this down;
1. The police officer was investigating a possible burglary in progress at a fire station.
2. This officer was the first on the scene and he observes two young males in the dark outside the fire station and shortly afterwards you walk out. It is not uncommon for burglars to have look-outs or to use children as look-outs.
3. The officer for his safety and according to his training asks everyone to put their hands up.
4. You immediately tell him you are a fire fighter and that you were checking out the building because they must have left it open when they went on a run.
5. The officer process what you said and nicely responded OK and asked you a couple of more questions, at the same time asking you to keep your hands up. Based on the information you just gave him, the officer then immediately gets on the radio and advises other responding officers to slow down.
6. Since he has never met you before, he asks that you hold your hands up high and turn around once so he can see your waste line for any weapons. That was a reasonable request. He still has not drawn his weapon. In my opinion, if he had drawn his weapon, he would have been reasonable to do so.
7. Even if he felt what you were telling him was true, he still has his procedures to follow which you clearly don’t understand since you are trained to fight fires and not how to safely investigate persons encountered at the scene of a possible burglary in progress.
8. The officer then asked you to hand him your fire department identification card and almost simultaneously he asked dispatch to check the license plates to the truck that you said belong to you.
9. At this point, another police officer arrives on the scene and you can clearly hear the first officer explain to the second officer what you told him.
10. The second officer explains to you the reasons for what they are doing and apologizes for the unfortunate situation you have all been placed.
11. In the audio, you can be heard saying no problem you understand.
12. The entire encounter was cleared up in approximately 70 seconds.
13. You stated the officer was stressed out and scared. In the audio recording, the officer sounded calm as he talked to you and his dispatcher. He calmly went by the numbers according to his training, which is why the Police Department said he “acted within policy”.
You have failed to show how this alleged misconduct was motivated by your race as it clearly was not.
Now lets talk about your responsibilities as a father.
In my opinion, as a father, you never should have endangered your children by leaving them alone in front of the Fire Station while you do a building search for criminals that may be armed . Talk about traumatizing, if you had confronted criminals and were shot or assaulted or if your kids were shot or assaulted because of your irresponsibility, that would have been traumatizing.
Some people might consider your actions of placing your children in danger would constitute child endangerment.
What you should have done was put your children safely in your vehicle, drove away and called the police so they can do their job, which they are trained to do.
Shame on you Keith Jones. Making false complaints of police misconduct and bolstering your lies with a false claim of racial discrimination is an embarrassment to you, the fire department and the City of Oakland and it only serves to perpetuate racism. The trauma and embarrassment you have caused your children by dragging them into this media circus is far worse then what happen to them that night at the fire station.
As a father, you should have explained the truth to your children. Instead, you choose to teach them by example to make false reports, falsely claim racial discrimination and to disrespect and fear police officers.
Now let’s see if you have the courage to put your pride aside and admit you are wrong.
According to the KPIX 5 website you initially agreed to another interview after the police video was released, but you did not return repeated calls and text messages asking for comment.
In my opinion, you should be dismissed from the fire department for your actions including, making a false report that could have ruined a police officer’s career and potentially caused turmoil in race relations within the City of Oakland.
This is the opinion of Scott Castruita, San Jose Police Sergeant (Retired)
Watch KPIX Newscast Below
Original Newscast Making Accusations
Follow up Newscast
Watch Raw Body Camera Footage Below