ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) — Alameda Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, City manager Eric Levitt and police captain Matt McMullen joined members of the group “Youth Activists of Alameda” Friday morning for a 40 minute virtual town hall to discuss police reform and accountability.
Many of the questions surrounded the recent in-custody death of 26-year-old Mario Gonzalez.
“We are heartsick,” Mayor Ashcraft said. “The City of Alameda has taken steps immediately to investigate this situation with two criminal investigations, and an independent outside investigation — they are all ongoing.”
And for that reason, despite alameda high school senior and moderator Raquel Williams asking several direct questions about the Gonzalez case, and how officers responded that deadly day — the city leaders declined to answer, citing the ongoing investigations.
“Does their behavior go against the police’s code of conduct?” Raquel Williams asked.
“I can’t respond in what, how their behavior is viewed at this point,” Levitt said.
What Captain McMullen would say, in general, is that his department, like many other law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area and across the country, needs to evolve and improve the way it interacts with the community.
Especially during mental health related calls for service.
“I think that we acknowledge and accept that we need to change,” Capt. McMullen said. “I want to say that the Alameda Police Department stands ready and willing to suggestions, and new ideas.”
Some of those ideas will be discussed Saturday, May 8, during a virtual special meeting called by the mayor and vice mayor — including the proposed creation of a citizen oversight board to hold police accountable for their actions.
In the meantime, the youth activists say they stand with the Gonzalez family and support their demands.
“Which is to fire the three officers who were involved, and to charge and prosecute the cops who were involved in the killing of Mario Gonzalez,” Vinny Camarillo said.
No one from the Gonzalez family spoke during the town hall.