Witnesses Fear Police Retribution in Oakland

Written by Jennifer Inez Ward PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Alan Blueford, killed by Oakland, California police

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Skyline High School senior Alan Blueford was just weeks away from graduating Skyline High School.

Instead, his family is preparing for a funeral and searching for answers.

Blueford died after being shot by an Oakland police officer on May 5. According to police, Blueford pointed a gun at officers after he ran when they ordered him to stop.

His family disputes OPD’s explanation of why the teen was killed and yesterday in City Council chambers, they pleaded through tears for answers in how the teenager ended up dead in the streets of East Oakland. For a half hour, they held up pictures and spoke about their treatment by Oakland police.

Blueford’s mother, father, a sister and others gathered at the speaker’s podium and told Councilmembers about the painful night they learned of Blueford’s death. The family said that Oakland police never reached out to tell them about the death of Blueford. Instead, they were told by the young man’s friends who were at the scene and briefly detained by OPD, that he had been shot by police.

After rushing to police headquarters and waiting more than two hours in a waiting room, Blueford’s parents said they were told by a detective that the 18-year-old was dead after being involved in a “gun battle” with Oakland police. In fact, OPD later publicly stated that they don’t believe Blueford ever fired the gun that was recovered at the scene. According to OPD, Blueford was shot three times. A fourth bullet hit the officer in his foot.
Blueford’s mother, Jeralyn, was especially poignant with her words to the Council.
“My heart is bleeding every day,” she told Councilmembers. “I want the facts of what happened, how it happened and why it happened… we need help, Oakland Council.”
Blueford’s cousin, Tanesha Blye, said residents in the East Oakland community are scared to speak up about what they may know about Blueford’s death.
“We have heard some very gruesome things surrounding the death of Alan Blueford,” she said. “You know what people say? They are scared to speak out. Not against any typical gangsters, but against the police department. They are afraid of what the police will do to them.”
Blueford’s older sister, Janae, said the family is holding up as best it could.
“This is, of course, the hardest thing we have ever had to go through,” she said. “It’s very, very difficult. If we’re not crying, we’re angry. If we’re not angry, we’re crying. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody.”
Janae Blueford said the family is determined to learn more about how Blueford died.
“We want the City Council to hold the police department accountable and demand a thorough investigation,” she said. “So many facts in the case have changed already, we need to make sure that nothing gets swept under the rug.”
Blueford was the third officer-involved shooting in Oakland this year, but the first fatal shooting. Police have yet to release the name of the officer who shot Blueford. According to police, the young man was on probation for felony burglary in San Joaquin County.
Some Councilmembers teared up listening to the family and later spoke privately with them. Councilmembers also called on OPD to provide information about the protocol for handling police shootings.
“We want justice for our son Alan Blueford,” father Adam Blueford Sr. said. “He didn’t deserve to die.”
Follow this story on Oakland Local at http://oaklandlocal.com/tags/alan-bluefordSource:  http://newamericamedia.org/2012/05/fear-of-police-retributiuon-silences-witnesses-in-oakland.php

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