OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Five Oakland police officers were given termination notices after a controversial 2018 officer-involved shooting that killed a homeless man. Now the officers are filing a civil lawsuit against the city and the Police Commission to get their jobs back.
The Oakland Police Officers Association said the commission’s recommendation that Sgt. Francisco Negrete and Officers William Berger, Brandon Hraiz, Craig Tanaka and Josef Phillips be fired ignored the findings of five previous investigations that exonerated them of violating the department’s use-of-force policy in the shooting of Joshua Pawlik.
“The officers want something very simple: to be made whole and return to duty and continue to secure the citizens of Oakland as they have done for many years,“ said Oakland POA President Barry Donelan.
The officers fired 12 shots at the 32-year-old homeless man who was passed out with a gun in his hand in the 900 block of 40th Street at about 7 p.m. on March 11, 2018. The police report said Pawlik was shot because he ignored repeated commands to take his hand off the gun and when he began to move he posed an immediate threat with the risk of death or serious bodily harm.
The officers’ union said the previous probes were conducted by the Police Commission’s own investigative arm, the Citizen Police Review Agency, the Oakland Police Department Internal Affairs Division, the Police Department’s Executive Force Review Board, the Chief of Police and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
The report from the department’s Executive Force Review Board found that “all the uses of force during this incident were reasonable.”
But Robert Warshaw, the department’s court-appointed federal monitor, said in a report made public in March that Pawlik’s movements, as seen on a video of the interaction, “do not coincide with the movements to which the officers claim they reacted.”
The officers are still on paid administrative leave. After being fired or a punishment is imposed, employees still have the chance to appeal the decision. Oakland officers go through a civil court-like battle against the city, and an arbitrator makes the final call.