Mom questions use of force in son's shooting by former Oakland cop

The mother of a young man shot dead by a retired Oakland police captain said he son was wrong to rob the man, but questions whether use of deadly force was necessary.

"I want to apologize to everyone in the Oakland community who was affected by that situation," Trepania Williams told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday of the robbery attempt on Oct. 21. "But death was not the answer."

Her 20-year-old son, Desoni Gardner, was identified by authorities as one of three people who tried to rob Ersie Joyner as he pumped gas near downtown Oakland on Oct. 21. Joyner pulled out a gun and fired at the assailants, killing Gardner, before being shot and wounded as the other two suspects fled in a car.

"I understand my son was wrong, but he’s already been held accountable," Williams said. She said she has watched surveillance camera footage of the shootout numerous times and wants more scrutiny placed on Joyner, "who took the initiative to shoot and kill."

A request seeking comments from Joyner has not been returned.

On the day of the shooting, Oakland's police chief described Joyner as being in critical condition and "fighting for his life." Authorities have not provided an update on his condition this week.

Joyner headed the homicide unit and led the city's Ceasefire anti-violence initiative until his retirement in 2019. After leaving the force, he began a new career in the cannabis industry and now owns dispensaries in Oakland and San Francisco, according to the newspaper. Joyner also owns a public safety and security consulting company.

Gardner is the second son Williams has lost to gun violence in just over a year. Her older son, Demazhe Gardner, was killed in July 2020. The brothers were rap musicians and had recorded several songs and appeared in music videos.