VALLEJO – A video surfaced on Facebook Saturday showing a Vallejo police officer chasing down a suspect and striking him repeatedly with what appears to be his flashlight. The officer briefly reaches for his gun but then resumes hitting the man as he screams “I am God” and some in the crowd shout “police brutality!” The officer later pulls his gun briefly on someone in the crowd.
Vallejo police Lt. Jeff Bassett provided a statement to a local TV station that said, “Just like anyone else officers are innocent until proven guilty. Violence is always ugly but police officers are exposed to violent situations everyday and they are required to over come that violence not just match it. We will investigate this matter and will take the appropriate action if any policy or law has been broken.”
It happened just outside the Valero gas station at 1610 Fairgrounds Drive, exactly when isn’t clear. Bassett did not immediately respond to a request for more information about the circumstances surrounding the video.
It has already been widely reported that the Vallejo Police Department is one of the most violent in the Bay Area. It has more police shootings per capita than any other area police department. Over the last several months, I have compiled detailed records of 230 police shooting incidents in the nine-county Bay Area dating back to 2013 through police and court records, media accounts and California Public Records Act requests. In the city of 118,000 residents over the last four years, there have been a dozen incidents of Vallejo police officers firing their weapons, killing five suspects and wounding four.
Four years ago, Vallejo was also facing controversy over violence after one officer, Sean Kenney, fatally shot three suspects in a span of a few months. The department’s rate of shootings was highest in the Bay Area then as well with six people killed by police in a single year. Since then, Kenney was promoted to detective and tasked with investigating homicides, including a fatal police shooting on March 21, 2015, when a rookie officer killed an apparently suicidal man.
Another officer currently on the force, Josh Coleman, has been involved with three shootings in the last four years: last November, when a man allegedly pointed an assault rifle at two officers in a Starbucks; in July 2014, after he crashed his patrol car while trying to stop a fleeing suspect; and in August 2013, when he chased a man to the back of the Coconut Grove Bar while looking for a robbery suspect.
Number of shootings by Vallejo police officers, 2013-2016:
|Officer Josh Coleman||3|
|Sgt. Steve Darden||2|
|Detective Terry Schillinger||1|
|Officer Amanda Blain||1|
|Officer David Mclaughlin||1|
|Officer Gary Jones||1|
|Officer Jarrett Tonn||1|
|Officer Jason Bahou||1|
|Officer Jeff Coburn||1|
|Officer Joseph Mccarthy||1|
|Officer Mark Galios||1|
|Officer Matt Komoda||1|
The department has already had a controversial fatal police shooting this year. Angel Ramos, 21, was killed in the 1700 block of Sacramento Street on Jan. 23 at 12:38 a.m. after police said they arrived at a party where there were reports of several people fighting with weapons. Ramos reportedly had a knife and was fighting with another person who was on their back. Ramos’s family disputes that account, saying he was unarmed and trying to defend his brother. They have already held several protests over the shooting.
Here are the other 11 police shootings in Vallejo over the last four years, with primary source material linked when available:
- 10/16/2016 8:50 p.m. at Magazine and Sheridan streets, Officers Josh Coleman and Mark Galios shot Adam Powell, 41, of Suisun City. The officers were in a Starbucks when Powell pointed an assault rifle at them, but the gun malfunctioned when he tried to fire. He was shot three times but expected to survive.
- 8/31/2016 11:00 p.m. at Mesa Street and Alhambra Avenue, Officers David McLaughlin and Matt Komoda fired on Marcus Anigilaje, 36, of Oakland and Troy Collins, 32, as Anigilaje drove at them before crashing into a parked car. No one was injured.
- 7/26/2016 6:00 p.m. in the 900 block of Sacramento Street, Officer Amanda Blain shot a dog after arriving at the wrong house to investigate a domestic argument. The dog survived.
- 3/21/2015 5:47 p.m., outside the Target store at 904 Admiral Callaghan Lane, rookie Officer Jason Bahou shot and killed Phillip Conley, 37, of Napa after Conley allegedly brandished a knife while he had a replica gun tucked in his pants. Police said Conley left a suicide note in his truck. Bahou’s body camera was off during the shooting, but he was cleared of criminal charges on Oct. 24, 2016. His family had doubts that proper protocol was followed.
- 2/22/2015 11:20 p.m., at Lassen Street and Clark Drive, rookie Officers Jarrett Tonn and Gary Jones shot Gerald Robert Brown, 23, after a pursuit. Brown rammed the officers’ patrol car with a stolen 1991 Honda and they shot him multiple times, wounding but not killing him.
- 7/13/2014 8:37 p.m., in the 200 block of Mark Street, 8-year veteran Officer Josh Coleman shot Raephelle Kalen Martin Jr., 23. Coleman had just crashed his patrol car in an effort to stop Martin, who was fleeing with a gun. Coleman said Martin spun toward him, making eye contact, and he shot four times. Martin survived and was charged on assault on a peace officer.
- 4/9/2014 3:00 p.m. in the 2000 block of Solano Avenue 18-year veteran Sgt. Steve Darden and 17-year veteran Officer Joseph McCarthy shot and killed Ever Ramon Martinez, 29, after a high speed pursuit. Police said that Martinez rammed a patrol car multiple times. The officers were cleared of criminal charges on March 16, 2016.
- 10/12/2013 1:35 a.m. in the 200 block of Lincoln Road West six-year veteran Detective Terry Schillinger 41, wounded a 41-year-old Vallejo man who ran through a motel. Police said he had a silver object in his hand as he spun around at the officer, but the object turned out to be his keys. The man was not identified.
- 8/24/2013 1:34 a.m. at 2105 Springs Road, seven-year veteran Officer Josh Coleman wounded a man who fled toward the back of the Coconut Grove Bar while police responded to a robbery. The man, who was not identified, “fled toward the rear of the bar while reaching into his waist-band and produced a silver aluminum object while turning toward the single officer who was in active pursuit,” according to police. The man was wounded and detained on a warrant out of San Francisco.
- 6/8/2013 1:30 p.m., at 11 Tennessee St., Officer Steve Darden shot and killed 57-year-old Mohammad Naas outside Naas’s computer shop. Naas had allegedly just shot his wife and pointed the gun at Darden when he arrived. Darden was cleared of criminal charges on June 15, 2015.
- 6/4/2013 7:09 p.m., 42 Harbor Way, eight-year veteran Officer Jeff Coburn shot and killed Timothy John Walker, 40, after Coburn responded to a report of a loud argument on a boat at the marina. Walker allegedly pointed a flare gun modified to shoot a shotgun shell at Coburn. Coburn was cleared of criminal charges on June 17, 2016.
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- Vallejo Police Department
- Spencer Muniz-Bottomley
- Sean Kenney
- Josh Coleman
- Steve Darden
- David McLaughlin
- Jarrett Tonn
- Angel Ramos
Scott Morris is a journalist based in Oakland who covers policing, protest, civil rights and far-right extremism. His work has been published in ProPublica, the Appeal and Oaklandside.
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