By Rachel Swan 8/21/15
Relatives of Demouria Hogg, a man killed by Oakland police as he was allegedly sitting in his car with a gun, will get to see video of the deadly encounter, an attorney for the family said Friday.
Hogg’s relatives asked to view footage of the June 6 killing after reading media reports that Oakland police screened video from two other fatal incidents, the Aug. 12 shooting of 28-year-old Nate Wilks and the July 19 pursuit of 23-year-old Richard Linyard.
“Once we found out about that special screening, we immediately called and said, ‘Hello, what about us?’” said Jamon Hicks, the Los Angeles civil rights attorney who represents Hogg’s family.
Hicks, who helped file a wrongful death claim with the city on July 7, said he was not invited to see the video of Hogg’s death. He said the family might postpone the screening until Oakland police permit him to attend.
He expects the video will raise questions about why the police chose to shoot Hogg, 30, who had apparently passed out in a BMW near Lake Merritt with a gun in the passenger seat.
“We have a lot of concerns about how this turned into a fatality,” Hicks said.
Oakland police did not answer calls seeking comment. Presenting footage of the other two incidents to a select group of journalists Wednesday, Police Chief Sean Whent said he wanted to refute “misinformation” about the men’s deaths.
Whent went on to say that the department would not hold press screenings of body camera footage of two other fatal encounters — the Hogg shooting, and an Aug. 3 gunbattle with a 49-year-old sexual assault suspect named Antonio Clements— because they hadn’t been the subject of controversy.
Hicks balked. “There was a lot of news coverage, there was a march, there was a vigil,” he said. “I don’t know how much more controversy you need.”
A city spokeswoman said that while she wasn’t aware of plans to screen video of the Hogg shooting, Oakland police typically offer to show footage of fatal encounters to the suspects’ families.
A member of Hogg’s family declined to comment, citing the ongoing case. The family seeks more than $10,000 in damages for emotional distress, civil rights violations and a shooting that they believe was unjustified.
Civil rights attorney James Chanin said he was troubled by the city’s original decision to screen footage of Wilks and Linyard, but not Hogg. He deemed it a case of “selective disclosure.”
“It raises the issue of why they are showing this one and that one, but not the other one,” Chanin said. “It doesn’t prove anything, but it raises the question of what they did.”
Hicks said he doesn’t see the point of body cameras if the video isn’t released publicly.
“My whole thing is if we’re going to have these body cameras, we have to be transparent,” he said. “We can’t pick and choose which ones we’re going to show.”
But Steven Betz, an attorney representing the officer who shot Hogg, believes Oakland city officials are still grappling with how to use these new accountability tools.
“I can only assume that because this is new technology, public entities aren’t yet sure what the best way to handle it is,” he said.