OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Oakland police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Alan Blueford during a foot chase in May won’t face criminal charges because the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the shooting was justified.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Misfud said in an 18-page report completed last week and made public Tuesday that Officer Miguel Masso “had probable cause to believe that Mr. Blueford posed a threat of serious harm to him and to others present during the incident,” including to dozens of people at a family party nearby.
Blueford, who was planning to graduate from Skyline High School in Oakland in June, was fatally shot in the early morning hours of May 6 during a chase near 92nd Avenue and Birch Street in East Oakland.
Blueford’s death has led to disruptions at two recent Oakland City Council meetings because his family members and supporters have accused the Oakland Police Department of covering up for Masso and have said the officer wasn’t justified in shooting him.
In addition, his family has filed a federal wrongful death suit against Masso and the city of Oakland.
Misfud said in his report that Blueford’s failure to submit to Masso’s command to stop, combined with the fact that he made no attempt to discard his handgun, “could reasonably be interpreted as a desire and intent to use the handgun against Officer Masso if necessary.”
Misfud said Masso fired the first round after Blueford had pulled a handgun out of his waistband and pointed it at the officer.
The prosecutor said Masso then fired a second shot “because he actually and reasonably believed he would be shot and killed” by Blueford” and also fired third and fourth shots because Blueford “was still looking directly at him with the gun in his hand.
Masso was backpedaling while he fired his fourth shot and hit himself in his foot, according to the report. The officer is still recovering from his injury, his attorney, Harry Stern, said Tuesday.
According to the report, Masso, who was hired in Oakland in 2008 after previously working as an officer in Morgan Hill and New York as well as a military police officer for the U.S. Army, told investigators that it was the first time a gun had been pointed at him and it was the first time he thought someone was going to kill him.
“I was scared…It scared the living crap out of me,” Masso said, according to the report.
John Burris, an Oakland civil rights attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Blueford’s family, said he’s “disappointed” in the report’s findings and conclusions but it has “no significance” for the lawsuit, which will still go forward, pending further investigation on his part.
Burris said he still believes that Masso “over-reacted” to the situation and wasn’t justified in shooting Blueford.
He noted that several witnesses quoted Blueford as saying, “I didn’t do anything” just before or after Masso shot him, a comment that he believes suggests that Blueford was not trying to harm Masso.
Misfud’s report said the incident began when Masso and his partner, Officer Joe Fesmire, saw Blueford and two other young men in the 1900 block of 90th Avenue shortly just before midnight on May 5 and noticed that one of the other males moved his right hand toward his waistband as if he were conducting a security check for a firearm.
Misfud said Masso and Fesmire “were extremely familiar with the area they were patrolling and knew it to have a reputation for high gun possession activity and violence.”
The two officers eventually got out of their patrol car and detained the three teenagers and Blueford initially complied with orders to sit down before jumping up and running, according to the report.
Masso said he chased Blueford because he thought he might have a gun and he shouted at the teen 10 to 15 times to stop but he failed to comply, according to the report.
The officer told investigators that Blueford ran for nearly three blocks with his left hand on his jeans and his right hand at his waist, as if he was armed, the report said.
Misfud said that after the shooting a .9-millimeter pistol was found several feet from where Blueford was shot and it had his left thumbprint on its ammunition magazine.
The report summarizes statements of 39 civilian witnesses and the two officers.
District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a letter to Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan that she agrees with Misfud’s conclusion that “the evidence does not justify criminal charges against Officer Masso.”
The Oakland Police Department said in a statement that its Internal Affairs investigation remains open and it is unable to comment on the report’s findings.
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