An advocacy group that has decried police brutality in Oakland has been buoyed by this week’s killings of two unarmed men during police interactions.
Just six days ago, Markeith Loyd, a 37-year-old former model, allegedly executed his pregnant ex-girlfriend at a Florida Walmart, then shot and killed an Orlando police officer as he drove to a McDonald’s to report the killing. Loyd was still being sought as of Wednesday night and still on the run.
On Wednesday, Omar Abrego was fatally shot by police after the 34-year-old, unarmed was seen running along Interstate 580. Officers said he had a carjacking and showed a handgun, but not one of the officers’ safety-vest holsters. They had given repeated commands to him, and claimed he fired first.
“The shooting officer attempted a Taser to stop Abrego but Abrego continued to flee and moved to an area that was beyond the reach of the Taser. He was shot and killed,” the Oakland Police Department said in a statement.
The other case — that of Ignacio Perez — is less publicized. Police said that Perez, a 37-year-old, was holding a pistol to his head when officers approached him in an East Oakland neighborhood early Wednesday morning. They said he didn’t comply with orders to put down the weapon and began firing. The officer who shot him died, as did Perez.
Oakland Police Chief Michael E. Chitwood said in a Thursday interview that he supports the police union’s call for more officers.
“The police department’s going to give you the right amount of manpower, and we’re going to make sure that we arrest everybody that we can,” he said. “What the members of our organization have said is, ‘[Y]ou’ve got to let us get our people.’ We have the resources, the department is overwhelmed with this incident and we have no doubt we are going to arrest them.”
The chief’s comments follow an emotional outpouring at protests, a month after Walter Scott, a 46-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot in the back as he ran from a white police officer in South Carolina. The officer was cleared of charges. Days later, two Albuquerque police officers were cleared of murder in the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd, but convicted of an additional misconduct charge. The shooting of unarmed black men was sparked by nationwide outrage about police violence.
However, amid the sentiment that more must be done, protesters in New York City have said there will be no significant resistance to New York police commissioner Bill Bratton’s proposed bill to expand the use of body cameras, which was introduced last month. Bratton, an ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, has called the existing cameras “sluggish,” saying they were poorly performed and not supported by investigators. The proposed legislation to expand use of the cameras would only apply to the rank and file and allow officers to exercise discretion in deciding whether to use them.