OAKLAND, Calif. - Activists and BLM supporters plan to rally outside Alameda County District Attorney O’Malley’s Office on Friday, demanding transparency and charges following the officer-involved death of a man waving a bat inside a San Leandro Walmart this spring.
Community members want more information stemming from the April death of 33-year-old Steven Taylor, who was Tasered and then shot to death by two police officers who were called to the store when customers and employees were alarmed that he was waving a bat in the aisles. Many of those in the crowd will be Taylor's old buddies from San Leandro High, who have formed a grassroots group surrounding his death.
His family said he was having a mental breakdown on that day and the police officers should have done more to de-escalate the situation.
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"Yes, he was homeless. Yes, he had mental issues. Yes, he was Black," his grandmother, Addie Kitchen, said. "But does that mean we murder homeless people? That police can kill people with mental issues? I want to see that nothing like this happens again."
The rally is in front of the DA's Office, Kitchen said, because O'Malley has regularly cleared police officers after they have killed people, saying their actions have been justified.
"We want her to do her job," Kitchen said.
Steven Taylor's grandmother, Addie Kitchen, speaks at an event in San Leandro. July 18, 2020 (Zachary Borja)
In a statment, O'Malley's office wrote: “These decisions are not made quickly, nor easily. We must review all of the evidence, conduct additional thorough investigations and detailed legal analysis. We take this responsibility with the greatest degree of seriousness. This case is a priority, as are all cases involving the use of force resulting in a death and the hands of law enforcement.”
Kitchen and community members also want to know more information that has yet to be released.
San Leandro has released some body camera video of that day, but the city is refusing to identify the two officers involved in his death, despite KTVU's Public Records Request under a police transparency law,
However, Deputy City Manager Eric Engelbart said they are not making public the officers' names in this case because there have been violent threats against them.
The shooting occurred four months ago and Engelbart has yet to disclose the nature of these violent threats.
In a previous interview, ACLU police practices attorney Allyssa Victory said that the city must be much more specific about the threats before they may decide to withhold the officers' identities. The ACLU plans to file a records request and will be much more direct in arguing to get the officers' names released, she said.
It's important for the public to know whether these officers have had prior issues with their behavior.
"To deny the public's right of access, well, that's a huge thing. Just saying they've been threatened isn't sufficient," she said.
A San Leandro police officer, identified only as Officer B, pulls a gun on Steven Taylor in Walmart on April 18, 2020 (San Leandro police)