Oakland Coalition Calls for Firing Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

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Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson introduces an East Coast ally of Californian Families United 4 Justice, an organization of those who have lost a loved one at the hands of police, outside of Oakland City Hall on Thursday, March 21. Photo by Amir Saadiq.

The Coalition for Police Accountability is calling for the firing of Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick in the wake of the 2018 police killing of Joshua Pawlik, a homeless man who was shot 22 times by four officers.

The coalition is directing its demand toward federal court-appointed Compliance Director Robert Warshaw, who has the power to fire the chief under the court-supervised Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA), which has governed Oakland police reform efforts since 2003.

In a prepared proclamation, the coalition said Warshaw should remove the chief “and install an interim chief until the Oakland Police Commission can conduct a search, and identify qualified candidates for consideration.”

Speakers at Thursday’s press conference included civil rights attorney Pamela Price, Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project, Jorge Lerma of the Latino Task Force, John Jones III of the Coalition for Police Accountability and Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, a young man killed by BART police in Oakland.

Warshaw recently released a report that was highly critical of how Chief Kirkpatrick had handled the investigation of Pawlik’s killing, saying there was no indication that senior officers and the chief used any of the video taken at the scene to challenge the officers’ accounts of what had happened.

Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

According to Warshaw, senior investigators, including Kirkpatrick, took the officers’ stories at face value. He recommended removing the officers, who have since been placed on leave. Warshaw said Kirkpatrick’s assessment was “both disappointing and myopic.”

According to the police version, Pawlik was lying apparently unconscious between two houses when he began to wake up and was about to aim at them with a gun that was nearby.

Disagreeing, Warshaw said there was “no information Mr. Pawlik was an immediate threat to anyone or had harmed anyone at that point—he was moving minimally.

“He was a live human being—and any reasonable officer should not have expected him to remain perfectly still,” Warshaw said.

The compliance director also said OPD is now out of compliance on several reforms that had previously been approved. He has stopped short of demanding changes in the department’s chain of command.

The coalition’s proclamation points out that Warshaw has the duty under the federal court order to “improve compliance levels or remedy compliance errors…including but not limited to the discipline, demotion, or removal of the Chief of Police.”

So far, Chief Kirkpatrick has had the backing of Mayor Libby Schaaf, who hired her in the wake of the OPD’s sex abuse scandal, which claimed the jobs of several police chiefs in quick succession.

OPD has not yet responded to the Post’s request for comment, nor has the mayor’s office.

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