Oakland PD Sued for Racial Bias Leading to Gun Violence

By George Khoury, Esq. on February 22, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A recently filed lawsuit alleges that the Oakland Police Department's racial bias led to a neighborhood being repeatedly shot up by one of its own residents.

The case was filed by one neighbor who stood up to try to stop the shootings, which everyone in the neighborhood knew were being committed by the same resident. In one incident, the neighbor shot at a homeless man sleeping in his car on the street. When the police were called, the homeless man, and not the shooter, was arrested. Days later, the shooter targeted his neighbor and fired repeatedly into her home.

Bias Begets Tragedy

When police arrived at the scene of the shooting targeting the neighbor, a gunfight ensued, and the shooter was killed by police. However, for the neighbor, and her son, what they went through is alleged to be the product of Oakland PD's racial bias. The shooter was a 30-something white man, while the homeless man he attacked days earlier is African-American.

The lawsuit alleges that the police's bias led them to arrest the homeless individual rather than the shooter, which resulted in the shooter coming after his neighbor. Notably, the police were even warned by the neighbor who reported his suspicious activity leading up to his opening fire on her home.

A few weeks after the final incident, OPD's chief actually admitted to that they "dropped the ball" and that "mistakes were made." Whether or not that admission of fault will lead to a successful case is difficult to assess at this stage, as civil rights claims stemming from a failure to protect generally face incredibly high bars.

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