An attorney for the family of a 21-year-old man shot and killed by Concord police in Antioch this month is calling for an impartial state or federal agency to take over the ongoing investigation into the shooting that he claims has been grossly mischaracterized so far.
"This should be a criminal investigation, without question," said attorney Peter Johnson, who represents the family of slain Bay Point resident Charles Burns. "Someone needs to be proactive to make sure it is a fair investigation, and let me tell you, what is going to come out is going to be atrocious."
Burns was shot and killed by members of the Concord Police Department gang unit May 10 while running from officers, after he was a passenger in a car that rammed a police patrol car, according to the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, which oversees investigation into all officer-involved killings in the county.
"As he ran into the intersection, Mr. Burns partially turned toward officers while jamming his hands into the front waistband of his pants," the District Attorney's Office wrote in a statement released Thursday in response to Johnson's allegations. "Despite police commands to the contrary, Mr. Burns continued this action, and two officers fired their service weapons.
"It was later determined that Mr. Burns had a cellphone in his hand and methamphetamine and ecstasy was contained in his waistband," the statement says. "The search warrant on the residence was executed the next morning. Inside, approximately 1.5 pounds of suspected methamphetamine, a semi-automatic 9 mm handgun and $17,000 in cash were recovered."
Johnson said the account is "full of flat-out lies."
"I am concerned that the Office of the District Attorney for Contra Costa County is acting in conjunction with the City of Concord Police Department under a shroud of secrecy and that it is apparent the focus of the investigation is and has been directed at impugning the character of the deceased 21-year-old man and fabricating justification for clearly unjustifiable and horrific acts ...," Johnson wrote in a May 23 letter to District Attorney Mark Peterson and Concord police Chief Guy Swanger.
Johnson said he believes the District Attorney's Office cannot objectively investigate Concord officers because Peterson was a Concord city councilman for 14 years and was endorsed by the Concord police union in the 2010 district attorney's election.
Chief Swanger said Thursday that he received Johnson's letter, and he wasn't going to comment on specific allegations because of the ongoing investigation.
"There are no grounds for the request for an outside investigation, and I'm sure DA Peterson agrees with that," Swanger said
Peterson's office did not provide further comment, other than to note that testimony about the investigation into Burns' death will be given at a yet-to-be-scheduled coroner's inquest.
Johnson said he is prepared to sue on behalf of the Burns family. The defendants would depend on how the investigation proceeds.
"There are two diverging views of what's going on here," Johnson said. "I'm going to prove mine."
Staff writer Katie Nelson contributed to this report. Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.