In a surprising development out of Oakland, not only was the police officer that fired a beanbag bullet at a videographer identified, he was removed from the SWAT team and is now being investigated.
Not only that, but the captain who approved the use of beanbag bullets that night is also under investigation.
The officer who shot the beanbag bullet at Scott Campbell in November is Victor Garcia, who was standing besides a multitude of other cops – all of them dressed in indistinguishable riot gear – which is why it is suprising they even identified him.
The name of the captain is Ersie Joyner, who was interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News.
Joyner said that he gave an order that officers on a skirmish line could fire the beanbag rounds if they were approached by a nearby group of “anarchists” who had already broken windows and lit trash fires. He said he did not order the shot that hit Campbell and was not on the line when the round was fired. He declined to comment directly on the officer’s decision to fire.
Campbell’s video, posted on YouTube, shows him backing away from the skirmish line and asking loudly if he is far enough away from officers to continue filming. The video shows a flash and a bang is heard, and then Campbell collapses.
No police warning is audible before the shot is heard. This is an apparent violation of the department’s use-of-force and crowd-control policies, which require officers to issue a warning before firing beanbags on protesters. Campbell has sued the department in federal court seeking unspecified damages.
Campbell’s video “doesn’t look too good” for the department, said Joyner, a 20-year veteran of the force. Still, the captain said the charges he could face — gross dereliction of duty and giving an unlawful order — will not be sustained.
Joyner attempted to justify the shooting by saying that videos worn on officers’ uniforms show a large group of people in motorcycle helmets and gas masks behind Campbell who could have threatened the officers.
However, he also said that departmental regulations only allow officers to use the beanbag bullets “against a specific individual who is engaging in conduct that poses an immediate threat of loss of life or serious bodily injury.”
So no matter how many people were standing behind Campbell, there was no justification to shoot him.
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