Three of five Oakland police officers fired for Joshua Pawlik’s fatal shooting have found law enforcement jobs at other agencies, according to peace officer employment records obtained by The Oaklandside.
Officers resurfaced at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Solano County Sheriff’s Office, and the Emeryville Police Department. The State Peace Officer Training and Standards Commission provided the documents to the Oaklandside in response to a public documents request law Wednesday, a day before Gov. Gavin Newsom enacted two drafts of law to prevent officers who commit serious misconduct from being hired by other law enforcement agencies.
Until today, California was one of five states that did not have the power to withdraw certification from police officers, stripping them of their badges.
In Oakland, the five officers involved in the March 2018 police shooting against Pawlik were initially cleared by the Oakland Police Department’s internal affairs division, the Executive Force Review Board, and the d investigation by the Civil Police Commission.
But the court-appointed OPD comptroller, former Rochester Police Chief Robert Warshaw, stepped in and ruled the shooting violated policy. A special disciplinary committee of the Police Commission sided with Warshaw and the officers were dismissed.
Although it was reported that the five officers protested the dismissal by pursuing and seeking to regain their jobs, it was not publicly known until now that the majority of the officers had been hired elsewhere.
State records show that after being officially fired on April 18, 2020, William Berger became the Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy, Brandon Hraiz went to work as Emeryville Police Officer and Staff Sgt. Francisco Negrete has joined the Solano County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy.
The files, which are as recent as March 2021, did not show whether officers Craig Tanaka and Josef Phillip had been hired by other law enforcement agencies. Berger, Hraiz, Negrete and Tanaka shot dead Pawlik, a homeless man found sleeping between two houses in North Oakland with a gun in his hand. Phillips was fired for shooting Pawlik with a bean bag from a shotgun.
Controversy surrounding the shooting escalated this month, when an outside company hired by the city to investigate an Instagram account that mocked police reform efforts and disseminated misogynistic and racist content reported that the account had been created by one of the officers put an end to the shooting at Pawlik.
The report, which was made public by U.S. District Judge William Orrick, who oversees the OPD court-ordered reform effort, did not identify the officer by name. In total, nine agents were sanctioned for actions related to the investigation on social networks.
According to state records, Emeryville Police hired Hraiz on June 1, 2020. Emeryville Police Captain Oliver Collins said Hraiz was working as a patroller but resigned on March 12, 2021. He apparently is gone to another law enforcement agency. Collins did not provide any information on where Hraiz went, but said Hraiz was not suspected of any wrongdoing while he was at the EPD.
“His eight months with us have gone without incident,” Collins said.
On January 11, 2021, the Solano County Sheriff’s Office hired Negrete as a deputy sheriff, according to the Peace Officer Training and Standards Database. Solano County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Deputy Sheriff Le’ron Cummings did not respond to an email sent Wednesday about Negrete’s job.
Next is the hiring of William Berger, who began his career with OPD in 2014. Berger was hired by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office on March 21, 2021, according to state records. But less than a month after his new job, he went on medical leave, according to Alameda Sheriff spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly.
Civil rights lawyer Jim Chanin said officers dismissed for misconduct should not be given the opportunity to be rehired elsewhere.
“When a lawyer is struck off the bar they can’t go to another county and when a police officer is fired I don’t think he should be able to go to another jurisdiction either,” Chanin said. . “It shouldn’t happen with lawyers, it shouldn’t happen with the police, with pharmacists, it shouldn’t happen with doctors.”
The passage of SB 2, introduced by Senator Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Senator Steven Bradford, D-Garden, creates a system within the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, a state agency that oversees the training and certification of officers, investigating and revoking or suspending the certification of police officers for “serious misconduct,” which includes excessive force, sexual assault, dishonesty and display of bias.
The bill was supported by the ACLU and the California Innocence Coalition. The California Peace Officer Research Association and the California Association of Police Chiefs have both said they support the decertification of problem officers, but expressed concern that “misconduct grave ”was too vague and subjective.
“California has one of the most progressive criminal justice systems in the country,” Bradford said in a statement Thursday. “But for too long, problematic officers who do heinous acts in one department are not held accountable and continue to be a problem for that community, or are punished, but able to find employment in another department. This style of flushing and repeating accountability has led to the continued erosion of community trust. Finally, California finally joins the 46 other states with decertification processes for bad officers. ”
Bradford drafted the bill and named it after Kenneth Ross Jr., who was shot and killed by a Gardena cop in 2018.
Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, welcomed the passage of SB 2 as well as a bill she drafted, SB 16.
“Confidence in law enforcement is eroded when police misconduct is kept a secret and officers who have done wrong are allowed to avoid the consequences,” Skinner said. “SB 2 and SB 16 will help restore public confidence in the California police. “
SB 16 builds on Skinner’s landmark law on police transparency, SB 1421, by expanding public access to officer misconduct records. The law works in tandem with SB 2 by requiring that records be released if an officer resigns before a misconduct investigation is completed. It also requires law enforcement agencies to review an agent’s background before hiring them.