OAKLAND -- The City Council approved a $110,000 settlement Tuesday with the parents of Oakland teenager Alan Blueford, whose shooting death at the hands of an Oakland police officer sparked public outcry over whether officers are too quick to use their guns.
Attorney Dan Siegel, who represented the Bluefords in their federal civil rights lawsuit, said the couple likely could have gotten more money from the city, but agreed to the settlement because they didn't want to take the case to trial.
"They believe and feel that it is far too painful for them to continually have to relive what occurred," said Siegel, who is also a candidate for mayor.
Blueford, an 18-year-old senior at Skyline High School, was walking with two friends on 90th Avenue and Birch Street in East Oakland when police stopped them shortly after midnight on May 6, 2012. Blueford ran and was pursued by Officer Miguel Masso.
Masso, who according to police accounts saw Blueford pointing a gun in his direction, tracked him down and shot him three times in the torso. Masso also inadvertently fired a bullet into his own foot, which led the officer to believe that Blueford had shot him.
Blueford, who was on felony probation in connection with a robbery, was armed with a Sauer 9 mm semi-automatic pistol during much of the chase. However, his attorneys wrote in court papers that the gun was found about 20 feet from where Blueford was shot. Blueford never fired the gun.
Witnesses gave differing accounts of the shooting which took place on9200 block of Birch Street, according to heavily censored reports released by police two years ago. Several people, who were attending a nearby party, said they saw Blueford either holding a gun or reaching for a gun. Others saw no gun and said Blueford was trying to get back on his feet after falling beside a chain linked fence.
Masso was wearing a lapel camera that could have recorded the incident, but the camera was not activated.
No criminal charges were filed against Masso, who remains an Oakland police officer.
Blueford's killing touched a nerve in Oakland at a time when police actions faced heightened scrutiny in light of the department's handling of the Occupy Oakland protests. Blueford's parents held several protests after their son's death. The family and its supporters, many of whom were active in the Occupy movement, disrupted several council meetings. Their protest during a Sept. 2012 meeting forced council members to adjourn early.
Less than a week later, Oakland's federal police monitor, Robert Warshaw, released a report that criticized police investigations of officer-involved shootings, which he wrote appeared to favor the officers.
On Tuesday, the City Council voted 7-1 to approve the settlement. Councilwoman Desley Brooks cast the dissenting vote. No council member addressed the settlement during Tuesday's meeting.
The settlement is small compared to those from several high-profile Occupy-related police misconduct lawsuits. It's also less than the $125,000 settlement the city reached with Tony Ray Jones, who suffered nonfatal wounds when he was shot in the back while fleeing from a robbery he committed two years ago.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.