Report Dissects OPD on Fateful March Day - NBC Bay Area

Report Dissects OPD on Fateful March Day



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    An Oakland Police honor guard stands his post next to the flag-draped caskets of Oakland Police Officers Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, John Hege, 41, Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35. Thousands of mourners gathered with the families of four slain Oakland police officers for a joint funeral that drew law enforcement officers from around the world.

    An important document was released concerning the deadliest attack on California law enforcement in almost 40 years.

    The independent report on the death of four Oakland police officers was made public Wednesday afternoon and found critical mistakes from the first traffic stop to the moment the officers came face to face with the armed suspect.

    Read report here (pdf)

    It dissects what happened in the incident on March 21, 2009 that lead to the death of four officers.  Officers Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai all died in the line of duty that day.

    Officer Dunakin and Hege were shot and killed by suspect Lovell Mixon during a routine Saturday afternoon traffic stop.  Romans and Sakai were killed a couple of hours later when they stormed an apartment where the suspect was hiding.  Other officers returned fire, killing Mixon.

    The report does not name the surviving officers criticized for not following procedures.

    It says during the initial vehicle stop, Dunakin and Hege approached along the driver's side of the suspect's car together, which is not in compliance with training and provided no cover.

    Another error came in the following moments, according to the report, when the watch commander on scene failed to establish a command post.  That officer,  called "Lieutenant #1" in the report, ordered a city-wide response but failed to coordinate that response and instead decentralized the effort into three separate and uncoordinated activities.

    It says the search for the suspect was not managed appropriately by "Lieutenant #3" and that resulted in further "deterioration of the command decision making."

    The decision to enter the apartment building where the suspect was ultimately found, and where two more officers were shot and killed, is also criticized as "problematic from its inception."

    Lieutenant #3 is accused of making no attempt to contact people inside the apartment or evacuate surrounding buildings.  The report said Lieutenant #3's order to enter into the building came without sniper support, hostage negotiator assistance or even full consultation with the SWAT members who were part of the entry team. 

    It reads like Lieutenant #3 did not really believe the suspect was in the building.

    Lieutenant #3 is said to have "inappropriately discounted the possibility of the suspect's presence inside the apartment" despite mounting evidence from credible witnesses.

    It was put together by a five-member panel of law enforcement experts from outside of Oakland

    Before the report was made public, family members of fallen officers were given details of its contents during a session that lasted several hours.

    Even before it was released sources said it criticized members of the Oakland command staff on their decision making process that fateful day.

    The new Oakland Police Chief said he will brief his officers at 5:30 p.m. and will then hold a news conference at 7 p.m. at police headquarters.

    "It's going to be a painful process," Chief Anthony Batts told the San Francisco Chronicle about the publication of the report.  "We are peeling off a scab that has slightly heeled over, but with that comes opportunity for rebirth ... and to become a very sharp and professional organization."

    NBC Bay Area will stream the 7 p.m. event live.