OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The City of Oakland and Alameda County agreed to a permanent injunction restricting law enforcement’s use of “less lethal” munitions at demonstrations and other crowd events.
The case of Brown v. City of Oakland was settled this week as city and county attorneys agreed on the munitions restriction, as well as a $250,000 payment to two protesters, Tosh Sears and Kierra Brown, who attended a George Floyd demonstration at the height of the movement.
On June 1, 2020, Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies shot Sears and Brown with “impact munitions” and used “explosive grenades on peaceful crowds,” according to attorneys for the protesters.
In prior court cases, Oakland had previously promised not to use “less lethal” munitions such as rubber bullets and bean bags for crowd control. Their use was confined to situations presenting an immediate danger of death or great bodily injury.
“However, in May-June 2020, when thousands took to Oakland streets to express outrage over the police murder of George Floyd, OPD commanders allowed Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputies to bring and use impact munitions and explosive grenades on peaceful crowds,” attorney Rachel Lederman wrote.
Lederman said, “(The Oakland Police Department) let mutual aid do their dirty work by bringing and using dangerous weapons on Oakland demonstrators. We hope we’ve finally closed that loophole, as this agreement involves both the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office. The federal court will maintain jurisdiction for five years to enforce the injunction.”
Sears is a 52-year-old UPS driver. Sears said, “I felt like a target in my own city. I grew up with family members who were police officers, including my grandfather who was the first Black police officer in Las Vegas. But now I just don’t feel safe around police as a Black man.”
Brown, 22, said, “Seeing the way that the officers treated unarmed, innocent people was deeply painful. I am pleased that this settlement will not only help Tosh and me, but will help the Oakland community to be able to continue to speak out against racism and police violence.”
Civil rights attorney R. Michael Flynn said the settlement agreement requires OPD to clarify in its policy and training that even if someone poses a grave danger, the injunction prohibits police from shooting into a crowd. Police must try de-escalation and give protesters adequate notice and opportunity to leave before resorting to using munitions, he added.