OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The City of Oakland has released nearly 100 pages of records in a deadly police shooting of a homeless man last year, prompting new questions over whether it was justified.
Information about the shooting of a homeless man comes as a result of a new police transparency law. According to the cache of documents released by the city of Oakland, at least one investigator was not convinced that the shooting of Joshua Pawlik by Oakland police officers in 2018, was justified.
In addition, according to a frame-by-frame analysis of the shooting video, officers fired two lethal rifle rounds less than a second before another officer fired a non-lethal beanbag bullet.
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Police officers found Pawlik passed out between two houses in North Oakland on March 11, 2018 with a gun in his right hand. When he roused and began moving, officers shouted commands at him before opening fire and killing him. The four officers who shot Pawlik claimed that he raised his arm and hand off the ground and pointed his gun directly at officers.
The documents, released under SB 1421, include a report by the Oakland Police Department’s Executive Force Review Board (EFRB), an analysis of the shooting by Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, and an analysis by the police department’s independent monitor, Robert Warshaw.
The EFRB report concluded that “all the uses of force during this incident were reasonable.” Chief Anne Kirkpatrick agreed with those findings in her addendum: “The lethal force used in this case was within law and policy” because there was “an immediate threat.”
But the Oakland Police Department’s independent monitor, Robert Warshaw, found that “there was no information that Mr. Pawlik was an immediate threat to anyone or had harmed anyone at that point. There were no citizens in immediate danger,” he wrote.
Warshaw wrote, “Mr. Pawlik roused to consciousness, and the video shows his actions to be consistent with someone who was waking up and attempting to orient himself. He was moving minimally.”
Warshaw said, “He was a live human being – and any reasonable officer should not have expected him to remain perfectly still.”
Warshaw wrote, “Mr. Pawlik’s slight movements did not constitute intent and a reasonable officer should not have concluded such.”
The monitor also said the investigations by the Oakland Police Department’s internal affairs unit and its use-of-force review board were “deficient” and said police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick’s summary of the shooting was “deficient and myopic.”
Henry Gage III of the Coalition for Police Accountability told KPIX 5 he was in the process of reviewing the documents.
“It’s fairly disturbing the degree to which those two addendums conflict on whether or not this use of force was reasonable,” said Gage. “If the police department can’t disarm unconscious suspects, without killing them, that’s completely unacceptable.”
Gage said he plans to lobby Oakland’s police commission to take action on the issue.
The investigation into the incident is not complete. The Community Police Review Agency is still investigating.
A statement from the city said, “The City will continue releasing records related to the report, investigation, and findings of this incident on a rolling basis as they are reviewed and redacted in accordance with the law.”