OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Two men were murdered in cold blood in an Oakland park, right in front of surveillance cameras. But the cameras didn’t capture the crime.
Celaniz Vigil’s brother, Augustine Vigil, was murdered at Cesar Chavez Park in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood two weeks ago. He and Shawn Chatman were executed point blank on their knees.
“He loved his kids so much and he loved his family. And we love him,” said Celaniz Vigil.
The gruesome crime happened right in front of two park surveillance cameras that bear a sign that reads, “This park is under 24 hour video surveillance.”
Celaniz Vigil asked police about the cameras, which are maintained by the Department of Public Works.
She says, “Oh my god. My heart got a little bit of hope in it because…they’re obviously going to be able to see who did this to my brother.”
But she says she got three different stories.
She says she was told “that they don’t have enough memory on their database. And then one story was that they’re just not working, that they’ve been tampered with. And then another story was that they were blacked out.”
KPIX 5 found out the cameras in this park have not been operational for years.
The Department of Public Works knew that the video storage equipment was damaged in a flood a year ago, but they never fixed it.
“We dropped the ball on this one,” said Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo. He says the city has known about the camera issue for some time.
“Actually, the cameras have not been in operation for a number of years. But it wasn’t until we had two other young men lose their lives right on the other side of the park that the Captain and I tried to pursue public works to get them reinstalled,” Gallo said.
But the plan to replace the cameras stalled, possibly indicating a failure on the city’s part.
Gallo says, “I think it’s a lack of responsibility. That’s what I would call it and if you want to say failure, I think it is.”
Even worse, Gallo says the problem is not isolated to this one park.
“There are some others that are not working that should be working. So it takes a tragedy sometimes for us to react,” Gallo said.
The councilman says he got a commitment Wednesday from the city that cameras at Cesar Chavez Park will be reinstalled.
However, he says they did not give him a timeline.