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Michael Siegel, Oakland civil rights attorney and all-around nice guy, has obtained information from the City of Oakland about police shooting lawsuits that have happened over the past decade and their resolutions.

Here's a guide to how you, too, can get a cool $1,000,000 (give or take) from the taxpayers of Oakland. Unless you're already shot dead.

The Lawsuit:

The city of Oakland agreed Tuesday to... pay the family of a man who died after being arrested by Oakland police officers in 2000, a case that a federal appeals court said led to misrepresentations and stonewalling by the Police Department.

Jerry Amaro III, 35, was arrested on suspicion of trying to buy drugs from undercover officers near 73rd Avenue and Holly Street in East Oakland on March 23, 2000. During the arrest, several officers, including now-Capt. Ed Poulson, used excessive force, breaking five of Amaro's ribs and lacerating his left lung, said the family's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Incident Date: 3/23/2000   
Settlement Date: 12/1/2011
The Settlement: $1,700,000

The Lawsuit:

A man and a woman wounded when Oakland police officers fired on a suspect at a carwash are suing the officers and the city.

The $10 million civil rights suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, said William Caldwell, 67, and Leona Savoy, 31, were injured on March 11 when three officers fired 26 rounds "a la Hollywood action movie-style," without giving "adequate consideration to the obvious danger (posed by) their rash decision."

Bullets fired from the officers' guns shattered the femurs of both Caldwell and Savoy, both of whom were cleaning cars, the suit said.

Incident Date: 3/6/06
Settlement Date: 7/23/08
The Settlement: $975,000

The Lawsuit:

The city of Oakland has agreed to... settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by an unarmed burglary suspect who was left a paraplegic after a police officer shot him in the back.

Charles Davis Jr., 46, was shot once in the back Jan. 15, 2007, by Officer Hector Chavez inside the Koinonia Apostolic Church at 9429 MacArthur Blvd.

Incident Date: 1/16/07
Settlement Date: 10/12/2009   
The Settlement: $1,200,000

The Lawsuit:

The city of Oakland is expected to pay... to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of a man who was shot in the back and killed by a police sergeant.

Sgt. Pat Gonzales shot Gary King Jr., 20, of Oakland on Sept. 20, 2007, near 54th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in North Oakland. King fit the description of a "person of interest" in a killing that happened the month before, and officers found a loaded gun on him after the shooting, police have said.

But in their lawsuit, King's parents, Gary and Catherine King, said their son "did not pose a significant and immediate threat of death or serious physical injury" to police and that the shooting constituted excessive force.

Gonzales "created the situation where deadly force was used," said the lawsuit, which named the sergeant, the city and former Police Chief Wayne Tucker as defendants. Among the plaintiffs was King's child, who was born last year...

Gonzales thought King was reaching for a handgun, police said... He has been cleared of wrongdoing in two other shootings since 2002, one of which was fatal.

Incident Date: 9/20/2007
Settlement Date: 10/8/2009
The Settlement: $1,500,000

The Lawsuit:

Rookie officers Tim Scarrott and Andrew Koponen needlessly killed Officer William "Willie" Wilkins in January, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Wilkins' family.

Around 11:15 p.m. on Jan. 11, Wilkins, 29, was dressed in plainclothes when he tried to arrest car-theft suspect Demetrius Phillips, 18, at gunpoint near 90th Avenue and B Street.

Although one responding officer shouted, "Hey, it's Willie," uniformed officers Scarrott and Koponen were so intent on Wilkins and his gun that they opened fire, believing he was an assailant, authorities said. Wilkins never identified himself because he believed the officers were helping to arrest Phillips, police said.

The lawsuit, filed by Cochran associate Brian Dunn of Los Angeles, said that radio broadcasts "clearly identified" Wilkins as an undercover officer in pursuit of Phillips and that the officer's badge and radio were "plainly visible."
Wilkins never posed a threat to Phillips nor to the responding officers, Dunn said. "The force used against Wilkins was unreasonable, excessive and deadly."

Incident Date: 1/11/2001
Settlement Date: 7/19/2006
The Settlement: $3,500,000

The Lawsuit:

The city of Oakland has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the family of an unarmed man fatally shot by a police officer.

Former Oakland Police Officer Hector Jimenez shot 27-year-old Woodfox in the back on July 25, 2008, as he ran from his car after being pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving.

Jimenez was fired last month for violating the police department's use-of-force policies. His attorney, Justin Buffington, says Woodfox was running toward another officer and Jimenez believed he was acting reasonably to prevent harm to a fellow police officer.

Incident Date: 7/24/08
Settlement Date: 8/12/09
The Settlement: $650,000

The Lawsuit:

The city of Oakland agreed... to settle a federal civil rights suit filed by the parents of a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed by three gang-unit officers in 2008.

Jose Luis Buenrostro was killed March 19, 2008, at 79th Avenue and Rudsdale Street in East Oakland. Police have said several gang-unit officers shot Buenrostro when he pulled a sawed-off rifle from his sweatpants and pointed it at them.

But in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Jose and Maria Buenrostro said Sgt. Randy Brandwood and Officers Eric Milina and Robert Roche drove up to their son in an unmarked car, stopped and shot him without cause.

Roche has been involved in at least two other fatal police shootings.

Incident Date: 3/19/2008
Settlement Date: 1/20/2011
The Settlement: $500,000

Since 2000, according to the document obtained by Mike Siegel, the City of Oakland has payed out almost $11,500,000 for what they refer to as Payouts in Force (Shooting) Cases.

Even more unsettling though, if such a thing is possible, is that total settlement costs against the Oakland Police have totalled almost $60,000,000 in the last ten years.

Oakland, with 400,000 residents... won first place with more than $57 million in payouts in just the last 10 years... Number two was San Francisco, with 800,000 people. The lodestar city of the Bay Area paid nearly $28 million during the same period... San Jose, the region's largest city with more than 1 million residents, paid out $8.6  million.
One wonders what the other $45,000,000 was for. The cost of doing business, as it were.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, California politics, and SFKossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  People reading this who will be awake tomorrow (7+ / 0-)

    morning should look for another diary by yours truly, this one publicizing a new documentary film, 'Occupy the Bay', which will have a first showing this Friday evening in Oakland.  Probably somewhat after 9:00 AM PT.

  •  60 million $s in 10 years... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, Glen The Plumber

    ...payouts by Oaktown citizens for shootings of {say what??} murdering, lying, set-up killings of whom-what-ever might have appeared in the scope on whatever night of some self righteous paranoid cop???  

    Say What?

    Yeah!     Say What~~~~~

    "That the United States has degenerated into a police state in the short period of ten years should be the campaign issue." Paul Craig Roberts

    by dharmasyd on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 09:03:48 PM PDT

  •  I diaried on this issue (8+ / 0-)

    back when the Chronicle and Tribune were whining about how much Occupy was going to cost Oakland. Yeah, like it's Occupy's fault that peaceful protest must be met with military force.

    Oh, and ten years after being ordered to do so by a court, the OPD still hasn't come up with a plan to deal with rogue cops. They're not required to actually do something about rogue cops, mind you, just write down a plan of how to do so. Ten years. No progress.

    Democracy - Not Plutocracy!

    by vulcangrrl on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 09:51:49 PM PDT

  •  Not meaning to be snide, but it is important (3+ / 0-)

    to public officials at all levels to protect what little immunity they have left.  Agents of law enforcement have "qualified immunity" from being held to account for their acts.  That is, as long as they follow orders and proper procedures as set by their superiors, they won't be held individually liable to compensate someone for negative or injurious consequences of their acts.
    Prosecutors are in an even more favorable position.  They have absolute immunity from liability of the consequences of performing their jobs (e.g. getting a defendant sentenced to death) because there's a presumption that their duties are mainly ministerial (moving information from the executive branch to the judiciary) and they have no personal involvement (personal political ambition doesn't count).
    But, the reason immunity is so important, even to those public officials who don't enjoy it, is because once upon a time, not so long ago (before 1947), all public officials had sovereign immunity in the performance of their office and could not be questioned.  In other words, despite the Constitution's designation of power to the people, public officials were autonomous in practice and it wasn't just "if the President does it, it's not a crime."  There was no way to hold any public official to account as long as his/her actions were connected to their jobs.  (Congress critters enjoy immunity from liability for whatever they do or say on the floor of their respective chambers.  Jefferson of Louisiana tried to argue this immunity covered what he did in his office (hid money in the fridge) and the courts threw that argument out.
    Anyway, being able to act without consequence for mistakes is the nirvana for public officials who are into the positions for the power. So, the principle has to be upheld.  The keepers of the public purse pay out in response to the argument that, if they don't protect their fellow agents of government, their own personal assets could be requisitioned next.
    In practice, the predicate for this line of reasoning has been set in interactions with commercial development interests.  Decision-makers are warned that, if they don't render the land-use and zoning decisions demanded by development interests, they're liable to being personally sued for making capricious decisions and the public body (city or county) won't cover the cost of their defense, if the agency's attorney's advice wasn't followed. And that's how prospective property rights trump prospective human rights.  The argument that development is detrimental to human and/or environmental health and welfare can't stand up without proof. It's very difficult to prevent harm.  Which is how it should be when we're dealing with individuals.  The problem is that corporate interests, which can do much more harm than any one individual, are given the same deference in the law, making the contest unequal. But, the members of public corporations share with the members of private corporations the same interest in being personally immune from liability. Besides, it's only money.  If lives are lost prematurely, that's too bad.  But, in the long run, we are all dead.  So, paying out money makes it possible to absolve ourselves of guilt.

    What should be done?  People who lust for power should not be hired as public servants.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 12:11:45 AM PDT

  •   You can hire a lot of teachers for $11.5m. nt (3+ / 0-)
  •  John Burris can build you a new life (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Operators are standing by

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 05:35:28 AM PDT

  •  My brother will never go back. (0+ / 0-)

    Lived and worked in West Oakland for twenty years, and he just got sick and tired of incompetent law enforcement.  It's a city that views its citizens as little more than suspects.  Too many kids have to watch out for their peers and the authorities, and that's no way to live.

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