Police officer bridges gap to community through family of teen shot and killed by police
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Six years after an Oakland police officer shot and killed a Bay Area teen, that teen's family is working with the police department to bring about changes.
18-year-old Alan Blueford was a young man with a lot of promise. Now, his family is honoring an officer that they say helped them heal.
"When it first happened I was so distraught. You can't even imagine what the pain is like. You can't even breathe," said Alan's mother Jeralynn Blueford.
The pain is still fresh for both Jeralynn and her husband Adam.
"It's been tough. It's been tough. I can say this time every year brings on sadness, at the same time happiness," said Adam.
Alan was born five days before Christmas in 1993. But on May 6th, 2012, his life came to an end. He was shot to death by an Oakland police officer.
At first, OPD said the 18-year-old took part in a gun battle with the officer who was injured.
"We were told one thing that we knew absolutely that was not true and there were so many people there at that time that didn't listen to us, that didn't take the time to hear us," said Jeralynn.
Further investigation showed the officer, in fact, shot himself in the foot. Although there was a gun found at the scene.
Outrage from the community led to numerous protests.
"At first I was feeling like the police was all against us. Like it was he and I against all of them," said Jeralynn.
But there was at least one officer willing to bridge that gap.
Captain Bobby Hookfin was introduced to the Bluefords by his friend and community organizer Jack Bryson.
Finally, the Blueford's felt they had someone within the department who would listen.
"We were like, 'We got all these questions. This doesn't match up to this. We want facts, we want to know what happened to our child,'" Jeralynn said.
"They believed in Jack and so when Jack introduced us that came with credibility," says Oakland Police Captain Bobby Hookfin.%INLINE%
"After I introduced them to him. That following Monday we were sitting at the table with Internal Affairs and the chief of police," said community organizer Jack Bryson.
The district attorney's office determined the police shooting was justified. Although the officer was disciplined and he later left the force.
But the death of Alan Blueford wasn't in vain, it helped bring about procedural changes at OPD.
Hookfin said they showed the body-worn camera footage to the family in a sit-down meeting to let them know what the process was.
"I think it was a tremendous help for us, and I thank God for him. Because like I said, if the two sides don't sit down there's no way there's going to be a solution," Jeralynn said.
"We felt that we had a bridge that we could connect with and had someone who supported us in our mourning," Adam said.
"He listened. He gave us the opportunity to share how we were feeling. He supported us. He hugged us. He wiped our tears," said Jeralynn.
On Saturday, the Alan Blueford foundation will honor Captain Hookfin for what he's done for them and his contributions to the community.
"In order to be able to bridge that communication gap we have to have a relationship with the community. So we can't speak to you from a far we have to sit down and recognize that there are differences," Hookfin said.
"If these two sides don't sit down and have a hard conversation or get it out. Then you'll never get solutions to this problem," said Jeralynn.