General Crime

* Coroner’s Inquest Held For Leonard Bradley Jr Shot By Police

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A jury for a coroner’s inquest in Martinez found today that the death of 16-year-old Richmond resident Leonard Bradley Jr., who was shot by San Pablo police on Nov. 14, was a homicide. The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s office holds coroner’s inquests for all fatal incidents involving peace officers in the county. During inquests, a 12-person jury listens to testimony from the officers involved in the incident and the subsequent investigation. Jurors are then asked to decide whether the person was killed by homicide, suicide, accident or died from natural causes. Jurors are not, however, asked to give their opinions about who was at fault in the incident. Bradley was unarmed when he was shot five times by two San Pablo police officers in a field behind Vista High School in Richmond.  Shortly before the shooting, Bradley and three friends, who were
all 17-year-old boys, had allegedly gone to San Pablo to rob a drug dealer who Bradley said was carrying drugs, a large amount of cash and was responsible for the death of a friend of his in San Francisco, Richmond police Sgt. Lori Curran said. Curran, who interviewed one of Bradley’s friends the day after the shooting, said the group went to the 1900 block of Dover Avenue in San Pablo and Bradley pointed out their victim. When Bradley and one of his friends approached the victim, Bradley allegedly pointed a gun at him while his friend patted him down, but they didn’t find any money or drugs on him, Curran said. One of the boys fired a gun several times, but didn’t hit anyone, Curran said. As Bradley’s three friends were running back to their car, they saw Bradley driving off in the victim’s white Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He was
being chased by the victim’s girlfriend, who was driving a white minivan and talking on the phone to police. San Pablo police Officer Frank Perino heard the report over the police radio and went to find the suspects. He caught up to the white mini van at a red light at the intersection of El Portal Drive and Church Lane in San Pablo and the woman pointed out the Monte Carlo, which was a couple of cars ahead of her, Perino said. When the light turned green, Perino turned on his lights and attempted to stop the car, but Bradley allegedly sped away, Perino said. Perino and San Pablo police Officer Kenneth White followed the Monte Carlo into Richmond, where it crashed into a parked pickup truck in the 2600 block of Wilart Drive, Perino said. After crashing the car, Bradley ran up a steep hill into a field behind Vista High School with the two officers chasing him. Perino said he yelled several times ordering Bradley to stop, but he kept running. Both slowed their paces at the top of the hill and then Bradley allegedly turned toward Perino and reached into his waistband, Perino said.
Fearing that he was reaching for a gun, Perino began shooting. White, who also said he saw Bradley turn and reach into his
waistband, also began shooting. They hit him five times, including once in the head, which killed him within seconds, according to forensic pathologist Ikechi Ogan. Perino said he never saw a gun, but assumed Bradley would be armed
because he had just been involved in a carjacking. White said he heard from the dispatcher that the carjackers were
armed and heard Perino yell “gun” as they were chasing Bradley up the hill. Bradley, however, did not have a gun on him when he was shot. Investigators later found a gun under a t-shirt on the driver’s seat of the Monte Carlo, Terence Wong, a criminalist with the sheriff’s crime lab, said. Ben Nisenbaum, a defense attorney who attended the inquest on behalf of Bradley’s family, said he was there to gather information for a possible civil lawsuit. He said he had just finished a separate civil trial in which Perino had shot another unarmed man, 35-year-old Melvin Hardnettt, in 2006. Nisenbaum said he questioned the accuracy of the officers’ descriptions of what happened and felt that some of the facts didn’t quite add up.
“Why would he be reaching for nothing?” Nisenbaum said, referring to the officers’ descriptions of Bradley reaching for his waistband.He also noted that the gunshot to Bradley’s head was from above, suggesting that he was on the ground when he was shot. “There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed here,” Nisenbaum said. Bradley’s family clapped when the jury returned their verdict, but did not wish to comment on the case.

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