Innocent victim killed during OPD pursuit, while on his way to work, identified
OAKLAND, Calif. - An Oakland man on his way to work was killed Monday morning, when a suspect being chased by Oakland Police Department crashed into the victim's pickup truck.
Neighbors, friends, and family said the victim killed in the pursuit is Agustin Coyotl. He's described as a hard worker and a good friend.
Oakland police said the suspect driver, Jonathan Hernandez, 23, wanted for an earlier alleged hit-and-run, was arrested Monday on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, evading police and gun violations.
Early Monday morning, neighbors near 69th Avenue and San Leandro Boulevard said they were shocked to hear a loud crash.
"Like a big bang. It woke me up," said one neighbor who only identified herself as Debra. "I thought, ‘What the heck? Did somebody just hit my door or something?’"
Oakland police said they'd been chasing a suspect in a silver Honda sedan. The suspect's car crashed into a red pickup truck.
"I saw like 10 cops with their guns out pointing to a male and he had his hands up and he just surrendered," said Jose Almarez in Oakland.
But the driver of the red truck was killed in the crash. Neighbors said they heard the sound of the truck's horn blaring from the weight of the victim's body on the steering column.
"It's very, very sad. My condolences for the family, for the victim," said Alvarez.
Friends and coworkers said that Coyotl, 44, of Oakland was killed on his way to work at Bayview Environmental Services just one block away.
Coworkers said Coyotl had been an employee for more than 20 years. They said he was a good worker, diligent and a generous mentor, with two brothers who also work at the site.
Coyotl's family issued a statement Monday night, saying he was the life of the party and that he'd fill any room he stepped into with positive energy. "It is with deep sorrow that we are writing this message to the public. He was a charismatic individual who would take the clothes off of his back and the food off of his plate to give you what you need. Coyotl was big on family and had a large family in Oakland. May he rest in peace. Although he is gone, he will not be forgotten," the family said.
"It's unfortunate. Our hearts go out to the family of the person who lost his life. Again, a senseless crime that could have been avoided," OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong said.
The officers involved in the pursuit were not injured. In line with department policy, the officers involved in this incident will be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Armstrong said the pursuit was approved by supervisors.
Officers spotted the suspect getting into his Honda Accord and tried to pull him over, but he refused to stop. After the crash, Hernandez was arrested at the scene. Police officers found a gun. Police said three days earlier, Hernandez crashed the same vehicle into another driver at 73rd Avenue and International Boulevard.
"Hernandez got out of the vehicle, threatened the individual by brandishing a firearm, and racking the slide at the individual," Chief Armstrong.
Attorney Jim Chanin said he feels the department should revisit its pursuit policies.
"The pursuits are up over 50% over last year," said Chanin, "There's never been 100 pursuits in the recent history of the Oakland Police Department and this year there's already 113."
"When the police are doing high-speed chases, if they are coming into residential areas, they need to cut the chase off, you know? Maybe call the officer and know what kind of car to be on the lookout for because when they keep chasing them, they're just causing more damage," said area resident Gloria Taylor.
"It's a lot of kids in this neighborhood, so it's like, dangerous for the kids and senior citizens that's around here, so I think we need to do a better job of keeping everybody around here safe," said Mark Anthony of Oakland.