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Oakland police place officers in Pawlik shooting on leave

OAKLAND — In a stunning move, four Oakland police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a homeless man they claimed pointed a gun at them last year were placed on administrative leave on Tuesday, and sources said they face termination proceedings.
The move came less than a week after the release of documents showing the department’s federal monitor, Robert Warshaw, ripped Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick’s decision to lightly discipline the officers involved in the shooting of Joshua Pawlik , 31, on March 11, 2018, despite the recommendations of a department review board which called for harsher punishment.
Sgt. Francisco Negrete and officers William Berger, Brandon Hraiz and Craig Tanaka were placed on “administrative leave,” a police spokesperson said Tuesday night. “At this time, the department will not be discussing any additional details.”
Monitor Robert Warshaw strongly criticized Kirkpatrick last week for not meting out tougher discipline out in documents released under the state’s new police transparency law, Senate Bill 1421, calling her thinking on the matter “disappointing and myopic.”
A spokesman for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf declined comment Tuesday night. Neither did a lawyer for the officer’s union, the Oakland Police Officers’ Association.
Last week, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley released a report in which she found the officers didn’t commit any crimes in Pawlik’s death, a finding in nearly all officer-involved shootings, although a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy faces manslaughter charges in shooting death of a woman in 2017.
Joshua Pawlik who was shot and killed by four Oakland Police officers on March 11, 2018. (Pawlik family) 
Administrative actions for policy violations in a shooting death like the four Oakland officers are facing are also rare in California.
The officers found Pawlik asleep in an alley between two houses on the 900 Block of 40th Street on March 11, 2018.
In videos released last year , officers can be heard shouting commands at him such as “take your hand off the gun” and “don’t move!” before Pawlik stirred.
One video, filmed from a camera placed atop a police vehicle, captures a view of Pawlik apparently waking up around 7:05 p.m. as officers yelled “Don’t move! Put your hands up! Hands off the gun!” A moment later, as Pawlik shifted and rose, police fired 22 shots before grabbing shields and heading over to him to begin life-saving measures.
Kirkpatrick, in documents released last week , said nothing contradicted officers’ claims that Pawlik raised his weapon.
But records show Warshaw was clearly displeased about internal affairs investigators’ failure to challenge officer statements he said were at odds with some video footage captured at the scene.
Investigators ignored body-camera footage from a sergeant “who had the foresight to place his camera on the armored vehicle” allowing for an “unobstructed view.” He also accused investigators of using leading questions to justify the shooting.
“I reject the Chief’s principal conclusions in this matter,” Warshaw bluntly concluded in an internal letter dated Feb. 19.
Oakland Police Officers Association lawyer Michael Rains said the case has become politicized.
“When this happens, bad decisions are made contrary to facts and established law.” he said. “I’m confident that these officers, based on my knowledge of what happened, are going to retain their jobs.”
In February, Pawlik’s mother, Kelly Pawlik, retained famed civil-rights attorney John Burris to represent her in a civil suit filed last month seeking a jury trial and alleges that officers violated her son’s civil rights.
Reached for comment Tuesday night, Burris declined to comment. saying he was not in position to comment on any actions by the department.
Jim Chanin, an Oakland civil rights lawyer who, like Burris, is involved in the federal monitoring of the department, which has dragged on for 16 years, said the Pawlik shooting is a blow to that process.
“I am very disappointed,” he said. The department is “going steadily backwards.”
The story was first reported by Oakland freelance journalist Darwin BondGraham in a tweet.
Staff writer Harry Harris contributed to this report.

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