OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland firefighters found an unresponsive man in the driver's seat of a BMW parked near a highway off-ramp one morning in June. They called the police department, saying a handgun was on the passenger's seat.
Police tried for an hour to rouse Demouria Hogg, 30, by using loudspeakers and firing beanbag rounds at the car. Hogg didn’t budge, police said. Hogg finally stirred when police shattered a passenger-side window with a metal pipe. It would be the last movement of his life.
One officer used a Taser on Hogg while another fatally shot him.
It’s unclear what happened when Hogg awoke. Police said “a confrontation occurred.” An attorney representing the officer who fired the fatal shot said Hogg reached for the handgun.
Now, Hogg’s mother and youngest daughter are suing the Oakland police department, accusing officers of excessive force in a federal wrongful death lawsuit.
“This use of deadly force was excessive and unreasonable under the circumstances, especially since [Hogg] had done nothing violent before, during and after he was tased and shot to death,” the lawsuit says. Hogg was "unconscious" moments before he was shot and "posed no reasonable or credible threat of violence," the suit says.
The police department and city attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Oakland police officers wore body cameras that recorded the encounter, but the department has declined requests to release footage.
Members of Hogg's family were allowed to view portions of the videos and said they don't believe the footage shows him reaching for the weapon. Their lawyer, Jamon Hicks, doesn’t concede that a gun was on the passenger seat.
With multiple officers’ cameras recording portions of the shooting, public opinion could be greatly influenced by which version is released.
“The video absolutely supports the officers,” said attorney Stephen Betz, who represents the female cop who shot Hogg, whose name hasn’t been released. “But if you’re suspicious of the police, the video that I saw doesn’t necessarily show what happened inside the car.”
The June 6 killing was the first fatal police shooting in Oakland in two years. In August, police killed three more people.
Hicks has complained about the pace and secrecy of the investigation into the shooting of Hogg. The Alameda County district attorney will decide whether to pursue charges against the officer.
An autopsy hasn’t been completed, Hicks said. Tests may explain why police had difficulty waking Hogg.
Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said the name of the officer who killed Hogg hasn’t been released as a security measure.
“We believe that there were threats that were credible from a gang to that particular officer,” Whent said.
The presence of a gun in the car doesn’t automatically exonerate the officer in the killing, according to Hadar Aviram, a University of California, Hastings, law professor.
“Police are justified in using lethal force if it’s reasonable to think that the person is a danger,” Aviram said.
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