OAKLAND - A day after BART released body camera video of one of its officers fatally shooting a 28-year-old man, the mother of Shaleem Tindle addressed the BART board in an emotional speech, telling them that she loved her son and that the officer who shot him is “guilty.”
"My son. I loved my son. And I loved my son. Just like you love your children. This has to stop,” Yolanda Banks Reed said at the Thursday board meeting, referring to Tindle, who was shot in the back on Jan. 3 outside the West Oakland BART station by an officer responding to reports that he shot another man and two were fighting on a sidewalk.
“Oscar Grant,” Reed said simply, referencing the 22-year-old who was killed by a BART police officer on New Year's Day in 2009. Her sentence ended there. Then she said her son's name. Shaleem. It means peace, or noble. He was an artist enjoying life, a builder, a father of two, she told her friend in a previous interview.
And then she continued in testimony that had the rising inflection of a sermon: "See, the story's been told over and over. How many times do you keep reiterating the story? How many times before you get it right? How many have to die? I wouldn't want this pain on any mother. Any father. I wouldn't want this pain on any family. They shouldn't have to feel this."
Reed, a longtime activist who has traditionally been supporting other families whose sons have been killed, spoke at length about her grief over her slain son, the brother of professional boxer Karim Mayfield, to the board. By law, members are not allowed to specifically respond to anything during the public comment period.
And she spoke of the officer who killed him.
"His face is in my heart,” Reed said, as her many supporters, including Grant’s uncle, Cephus Johnson, were in attendance, some shouting “murderer” above her voice. “He's guilty. He's guilty of shooting a man in the back. What are we gonna do? What are you gonna do, shall I say?”
She insisted that she doesn’t hate all police. But she said that as an African-American, it’s hard not to feel the history of police brutality. She is a member of the Hebrew Cultural Community YHWH Eloheem of San Francisco. It appears to be a religion that combines aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, though its website doesn't have a complete description of its beliefs.
“I don't say that all police are evil,” Reed said. “There are good officers out there who mean well. But my son was shot by Joseph Mateu. What are you gonna do today?"
Mateu is at the center of the Bay Area’s latest officer-involved shooting controversy. He is seen on his body camera video, which BART released on Wednesday after public pressure to do so, being alerted by people at the station that a shooting has happened. “Where? Where?” Mateu shouts frantically.
Then he starts running to the scene, his gun drawn.
Mateau shouts several times “Let me see your hands,” to the two men rolling around on the sidewalk on 7th Street. They don’t heed his words immediately; it's not clear if they hear him. And Mateu doesn't identify himself as police, although it's evident from his tone and pace that he is racing to prevent the two from harming each other or anyone else.
Within seconds, Mateu fires off three shots, the video shows. At no point did Tindle or the other man threaten the officer. But they also didn't comply with his orders, though he never identified himself as police. Mateu also acted quickly. The video shows that he did not pause or try any de-escalation techniques before firing his weapon.
Shortly after the officer arrives on scene, Tindle does raise his hands after he was shot in the back - and before he died later at Highland Hospital - showing they are empty. Neither man had a weapon in his hand when the officer fired.
A gun can be seen on the ground next to the men in the video. But Tindle’s family and civil rights lawyer John Burris filed a legal claim on Feb. 13 saying that Tindle did not have the gun in his hand when he was shot. Burris does stipulate, however, that Tindle had shot the second man beforehand and that the second man had “disarmed” Tindle of the gun.
At the board meeting, a friend of the family said that the other man had verbally assaulted or disrespected Tindle and his family, which is why the shooting took place.
The other man has not been publicly identified.
On Wednesday, BART Chief of Police Chief Carlos Rojas defended Mateu's actions. He said it was courageous for Mateu to run across the street and respond to reports of a shooting.
Mateu “had a very short time to make a determination whether to use deadly force or not,” Rojas said.
Mateu was hired as a community service assistant for BART police in May 2003, was sworn in as a police officer in November 2007 and was promoted to senior police officer in January 2010.
The veteran officer initially was placed on paid administrative leave but was cleared to return to work two weeks after the shooting.
Tindle's death being investigated by Oakland police and Rojas said, "I want to remind folks to reserve their judgment as to the conduct of our officer until the investigations have run their course."