Teen sues Hayward police after officers shoot him, pluck bullets from his back

Hayward police shot a young man in the back on June 1, 2020.

A teenager who came to watch a music video in the Bay Area is suing Hayward police after he says two officers shot him for simply trying to leave a chaotic scene and then tried to fix the situation by plucking the bullets from his back.

The federal suit, filed Dec. 21 on behalf of the minor called J.B., is alleging that police did not have probable cause to stop him and used excessive force by shooting at him for wanting to leave the parking lot of a strip mall on the evening of June 1, the night of several George Floyd protests around the country, including in Hayward. 

J.B. had committed no crimes, his lawyers Adante Pointer and Patrick Buelna contend, and he was not endangering anyone. In addition, the suit states the officers issued no verbal warning to J.B. before using deadly force. The bullets did not paralyze the young man, but the suit states he was physically and mentally scarred.

J.B. was one of three people Hayward police shot in 12 days.

Hayward police and a city spokeswoman referred comment to the city attorney's office, which didn't immediately respond for comment on Thursday.  It is unclear if the officers involved are still on the job or if they faced any discipline over the shooting. 

As J.B.'s lawsuit alleges, the young man was visiting the Bay Area and had been watching a music video shoot in Oakland on June 1 with his cousin, who had driven him there. 

After the shoot, J.B. fell asleep in the car and woke up in his cousin's car parked in a strip mall near 26059 Mission Boulevard in Hayward.

He heard lots of noise, including honking horns and sirens in the background. He didn't know it at the time, but there were protests occurring in that strip mall over the death of George Floyd. His cell phone was dead and he couldn't call his cousin. He decided to climb into the driver's seat and leave the parking lot, the suit states. 

At the same time, Hayward police officers Samuel Tomlinson and Stephen Akacsos and other yet-to-be-identified officers were responding to a 911 call reporting a potential break-in of a Verizon store, the suit states. The officers pulled into a CVS parking lot next to the Verizon store and drew their guns which included an assault rifle.

The civil rights attorneys contend the officers did not have a description of the suspected vehicles or the suspects involved with breaking into or burglarizing the Verizon store. 

J.B. didn't want to remain at the scene and began to leave.

The suit states that the officers "fired multiple shots" at J.B. after he had passed the police and was on his way out of the parking lot. Two of the officers' bullets struck J.B. in the back.

"Injured and scared, J.B. stopped, got out of the vehicle and hid in some nearby bushes," the suit states. Officers ultimately found him and J.B. surrendered.

As police put him in handcuffs, J.B. tried to explain to them that he had been shot in the back. 

Instead of waiting for medical professionals, the suit states, the officers "removed the bullets from J.B.’s back with their own hands." It was not clear if the officers had gloves on or used any equipment to extract the bullets. 

J.B. was then placed under arrest and taken to Eden Hospital to be examined and treated. 

In the end, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute J.B. on any of the charges police recommended, the suit states. The suit does not state what charge J.B. was arrested on. 

In addition, J.B.'s lawyers have requested the city of Hayward provide the incident reports, body camera footage and other relevant documents concerning this incident but the city has refused.

On Thursday, KTVU filed a similar Public Records Request and received an automated response that the city would respond by Jan. 14. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@foxtv.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez.