OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said a female officer fatally shot an assault suspect Thursday morning because the man immediately struck her multiple times with a metal chain when she tried to talk to him.
Whent said the officer, who is an 18-year veteran of the force, went to a residential complex at the corner of MacArthur Boulevard and Van Buren Avenue at about 8:30 a.m. to follow-up with the victim of an assault at the complex that was reported at about 6:45 a.m.
The victim told several officers who responded to the scene at about 7 a.m. that the suspect had been trespassing in the complex’s garage. When she asked him to leave he assaulted her, according to Whent.
The responding officers, who were working the overnight shift, took some initial information from the victim but couldn’t find the suspect and then left the area, he said.
The female officer, who was beginning her day shift, did a follow-up interview with the victim. As she got into her patrol car to drive away the suspect, who she recognized from the victim’s description, walked in front of her car in the 200 block of MacArthur Boulevard, Whent said.
The officer got out of her car but “was immediately attacked by the suspect with a metal chain that he was swinging at her” and hitting her with, he said.
The suspect continued to advance at the officer so the officer fired multiple shots from her service weapon, striking the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Whent said.
The officer is being treated for head trauma at a local hospital, where she is in stable condition, according to Whent.
The suspect is an adult male in his 20s but Whent said police, who aren’t yet releasing his name, don’t have much information on him at this point. He said police don’t believe the man lived at the residential complex.
Asked by a reporter if the officer faced a life-or-death situation, Whent said, “It looked very dangerous” but a final determination on whether the officer was justified in fatally shooting the suspect won’t be made until a thorough investigation is completed.
Asked how dangerous the chain was, Whent said, “A metal chain swung at an individual is a weapon.”
Whent said the officer was wearing a body camera during the incident and he has viewed the footage, which he said supports his assertion that the suspect attacked the officer immediately after she approached him.
“There was no verbal exchange,” the chief said.
The officer won’t be interviewed about the shooting until she’s released from the hospital and at this time it’s not known when that will be, Whent said.
Streets in the area were cordoned off Thursday morning while police investigated the shooting. Blood was visible on the street in the 200 block of MacArthur Boulevard along with numerous evidence markers indicating shell casings.
Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said the incident Thursday is the sixth officer-involved shooting in Oakland this year and the fourth that was fatal.
Whent said, “Assaults on police officers are up significantly this year. It’s a very difficult time in this country to be a police officer.”
The woman who was attacked in the initial assault at about 6:45 a.m. sustained minor injuries and didn’t have to be hospitalized, Whent said. The suspect didn’t use the metal chain in that incident, he said.
The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary has said it will protest the fatal shooting at a rally at 5 p.m. Thursday at the corner of Van Buren and Euclid avenues, near the scene of the shooting.
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