OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that it has decided not to file criminal charges against Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks for an incident last October in which former Black Panther Party Leader Elaine Brown alleges that Brooks attacked her.
Brown, who was serving as an aide to Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson at the time of the incident, recently filed a $7 million lawsuit against Brooks and the city of Oakland alleging that Brooks punched her in the chest with her fists at the Everett & Jones Barbeque restaurant near Jack London Square at about 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.
The lawsuit by Brown, 72, accuses Brooks, 54, of elder abuse, assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence and intentionally inflicting
Brown alleges that Brooks’ punch sent her crashing “backwards head over heels over a stack of folding chairs” and she landed hard, hitting the back of her head on a chair.
Brown said she is suffering from “severe, permanent and debilitating” injuries to her head, neck and shoulders and suffers from
post-concussive syndrome, which includes symptoms such as dizziness, poor memory and concentration and sleep disturbance.
A spokeswoman for District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a statement, “After a thorough review, we have determined that no charges will be filed against Desley Brooks in this matter. We do not believe that there exists sufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a crime was committed.”
The spokeswoman said, “There was a delay of 16 days before the incident was reported to the Oakland Police Department. Due to the late
reporting, law enforcement was unable to secure what may have been important video evidence from the restaurant, as the video recordings were no longer available.”
The spokeswoman said, “Police conducted interviews with witnesses and there are conflicting statements as to whether the incident was mutual combat or even a battery.”
Brown’s attorney, Charles Bonner, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the District Attorney’s decision not to file charges against Brooks.
Brooks, who hasn’t talked to the news media about the incident, declined to comment on the decision.
Brown headed the Black Panther Party from 1974 to 1977. Brooks, who also previously served as an aide to Carson, was elected to the City Council in 2002.
In 2014, Carson and Brown co-founded Oakland and the World Enterprises Inc., a nonprofit seeking to transform a vacant West Oakland lot near the BART tracks into an urban farm and high-rise housing development employing former inmates.
In her suit, Brown said she went to Everett & Jones early in the evening of Oct. 30 to celebrate the filing of an application for $2.1 million
in public funding for 60 units of affordable housing as part of the West Oakland project.
But Brown said Brooks, who also was at the restaurant, “launched into a venomously aggressive monologue and tirade,” saying that she would use her status as a councilwoman to have the application withdrawn because “it is of no benefit to black people!”
Brown, who is black, as is Brooks, said she responded by telling Brooks that the project is important because it will provide services to all
disadvantaged people in Oakland, not just black people. Brown said she and Brooks discussed the matter for several minutes but Brooks then punched her.
In January the Oakland City Council denied Brown’s claim, citing an opinion by the City Attorney’s Office that the alleged assault did not
occur “within the course and scope” of Brooks’ role as an elected official.
But Bonner said last month that he believes Brooks was acting within the scope of her duties because she threatened to stop the affordable housing project at the next City Council meeting.