Police Watchdogs Call for Firing of Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

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Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

The Coalition for Police Accountability (CPA) is calling on Federal Compliance Director Robert Warsaw to fire Oakland’s Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick. Their call comes about a year after four officers from the Oakland Police Department (OPD) killed 31-year-old homeless resident Joshua Pawlik on March 11, 2018.

OPD’s video shows Sgt. Francisco Negrete and officers William Berger, Brandon Hraiz, and Craig Tanaka shooting Pawlick approximately 46 seconds after screaming their first commands as they huddled behind a bullet proof police vehicle.

Pawlick was armed and laying between two homes. He appeared to be asleep or unconscious as the officers screamed their first commands. As he seemed to be awakening, they shot him.

For a year, Kirkpatrick chose not to discipline any of the officers involved with the shooting claiming lethal force was legal as Pawlick posed “an immediate threat.” However, federally-appointed Compliance Director Warsaw has recently criticized the internal investigation that cleared the officers.

In a four-page report, Warsaw disapproved of OPD’s decision not to utilize the available video of the events to check contradictory statements that the officers made and/or to refer to the video during questioning of the officers.

Warsaw also disagreed with OPD’s finding that Pawlick posed an immediate threat to the officers. He said the shooting victim’s movements “were consistent with someone who was waking up and attempting to orient himself” and that a reasonable officer should not have perceived a threat.

On March 12, 2018, acting under the authority of the federal court, Warsaw ordered the four officers who shot Pawlik removed from the force. In response OPD has placed Officers Berger, Hraiz, and Tanaka on administrative leave. Sgt. Negrete is on stress leave.

Administrative leave is often a first step in the procedure of terminating officers. The officers are still getting paid, and Kirkpatrick has yet to explicitly say she is firing them.

The CPA argues that the four officers involved in the shooting should have been removed a long time ago, and Kirkpatrick should be held accountable for failing to discipline them.

CPA member Pam Drake raises other concerns about Chief Kirkpatrick’s leadership. Drake remembers OPD officer Nicole Rhodes killed Demouria Hogg in a similar way as Pawlik, shortly after he was woken up by other OPD officers smashing open his car window on June 6, 2015.

“I’ll never forget it, and they got away with it,” she said.

Drake criticized Kirkpatrick for not looking to Oakland’s Police Commission to make better policy in dealing with use of lethal force when waking suspects. She says that Kirkpatrick has been absent from Police Commission meetings, the organization that is supposed to oversee OPD’s policy.

Kirkpatrick was appointed by Mayor Libby Schaaf in January 2017 in the wake of a sex trafficking scandal involving OPD officers and an underage girl.

CPA says Kirkpatrick promoted several officers implicated in that scandal. The chief was also involved an ICE raid that went against the city’s sanctuary city policy, which prohibits cooperating with ICE. Though Schaaf warned the public of the raid, she never admonished Kirkpatrick for her decision to collaborate with ICE.

CPA leaders say Warsaw has the responsibility to fire Kirkpatrick. They say that under Kirkpatrick’s tenure, the department has moved further away from compliance with federal court oversight through the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, now in its 16th year.

“The compliance director has the authority to do what is needed,” said CPA leader Rashidah Grinage. “It’s in his job description to remove impediments to compliance.”

At the time of publication, OPD and the Mayor’s office had not responded to the Oakland Post’s request for comment.

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