Oakland police killed a man Sunday after they said he pointed a gun, which turned out to be fake, in their direction, as they were towing away cars from an illegal sideshow earlier in the day.
The man's death marked the seventh officer-involved shooting in Oakland in 2015, and the fifth fatal one this year. Until the start of this year, there had not been an officer-involved shooting in Oakland for 22 months starting from May 2013.
At a news conference Monday, Police Chief Sean Whent did not identify the man who was killed. But he did say the slain suspect was 39 years old. Oakland police had previous contact with him several months ago when he had an "active warrant" stemming from making some type of criminal threat. Whent did not elaborate.
The department provided a photo of the replica gun on Sunday, saying that police had recovered it from the scene. On Monday, Whent said the weapon was "absolutely made to look like a real pistol." Whent said the officers were "shocked to learn" it was not real.
Whent said the officers involved in the fatal shooting include a sergeant with seven years on the force and three rookies with six-to-18 months on the job. The officers had not activated their body cameras, Whent said, because they were doing paperwork at the time and were not en route to make an arrest, as policy dictates.
The deadly confrontation began Sunday about 5:30 p.m., police said, as officers were towing away cars near 90th and Bancroft avenues from the second of two illegal sideshows that erupted over the weekend. The suspect pulled what appeared to be a weapon from his waistband, Whent said, and four officers fired at him. They performed CPR, to no avail.
Christopher Wise witnessed the deadly shooting and said he did not see the suspect point a weapon.
"From my vantage point I didn't see any weapon pointed," Wise said. "I saw somebody lift up their shirt to show them what they had and in the course of him doing that I hear 'pow pow' and gunshots galore."
Whent said they were aware that motorcycles may be out in force on Sunday, but police were surprised when hundreds upon hundreds of other vehicles came out to do donuts and race around. The California Highway Patrol said Monday that officers had made two arrests and impounded ten cars from the weekend stunts. Whent said he did not believe the suspect killed had anything to do with the sideshow, but he didn't know why the man did why the man allegedly drew a replica gun. "We don't know why he did what he did," Whent said.
There were two bursts of sideshows that peppered East Oakland, police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said. The first lasted from about 7 p.m. Saturday until about 4 a.m. Sunday. That's when 700 cars and motorcycles came out in force, performing illegal stunts mostly near 54th Avenue and International Boulevard, 90th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, and along Interstate Highway 880 near the High Street off ramp. The vehicles shut down highway traffic for a while.
Then, another sideshow with about 100 vehicles appeared again and drove through the city starting about noon on Sunday through 5 p.m., Watson said.
Mayor Libby Schaaf attended the news conference to condemn the sideshows.
"Oakland will not tolerate sideshow activity," she said, adding that the danger of cars sliding into innocent victims disrupts the "peace and quiet" for Oakland residents.
The Oakland Police Department Traffic Section has created an anonymous tip line, Stop Sideshow (510) 777-8703. You can call or email any and all tips regarding illegal sideshow activity in Oakland: Stopsideshow@oaklandnet.com