Protest turns to near-riot as hundreds gather in Oakland to decry BART shooting

As the dramatic story of a BART officer fatally shooting a young man turned violent with protests that turned into near-riots Wednesday night, said Thursday that Oakland police will launch their own investigation into the shooting.

Oakland police’s role will to be to aid the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, which had previously been working exclusively with BART police, to determine whether criminal charges against the officer who pulled the trigger.

“We will review what has been done and we will develop our own witnesses as well,” said Oakland police Chief Wayne Tucker. “That’s what’s intended now.”

BART Police Chief Gary Gee welcomed the additional resources the Oakland Police Department will provide.

“I fully support his partnership,” he said. “The BART and Oakland police departments have always enjoyed an excellent working relationship.”

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff said he expected a case to be “totally prepared” in about two weeks.

“I know people are unhappy with that,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of emotion. I have to sit back and look at this as objectively as I can with all the facts that are available and make the decision — not only whether or not he should be charged, but what offense he should he charged with … and it’s not as simple as most people think.”

He said the former BART officer involved in the shooting, Johannes Mehserle, who resigned Wednesday, has, through

his attorney, refused to be interviewed by Orloff’s office.

 

At least 105 people were arrested for a variety of offenses Wednesday night. Police said charges for those arrested included assault on a police officer, looting, vandalism and arson. Some of those detained were found to have drugs, which added another count to the charges.

Angry about the New Year’s Day shooting by a BART police officer, protesters smashed businesses and set fires in downtown Oakland, and confronted Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums on the steps of city hall.

Oakland police beefed up their prescence on the streets Thursday morning, with officers in riot gear patrolling the streets as they anticipated more protests. Businesses downtown were cleaning up, dealing with the aftermath of smashed windows and cars.

Leemu Tokpa had swept glass shards into two piles outside her shop, Creative African Braids, on 14th Street so that clients could get in the door.

She said a group of vandals smashed up her downtown Oakland shop and threw bottles at her while she was holding her 8-month-old baby.

“Nobody feels happy about the guy getting killed, but if they come back to attack me, as a black sister I feel very disappointed,” Topka said. “I’m struggling here, too. And they come and wreck my business.”

Her brother slept in the shop all night, to protect it from further vandalism she said.

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