Anger, questions over Hayward police killing roils council meeting

The Hayward City Council chambers erupted in chants of “Shut it down!” and “What are you hiding?!” after the family of Agustin Gonsalez, the 29-year-old father of two killed by Hayward police officer was again denied answers following the shooting last November on O’Neill Avenue.

Gonsalez family members and supporters delivered several public comments during a Hayward council meeting last month demanding for information from police. The family said Gonsalez struggled with a mental illness, but had held a full-time job.

I just need some answers.Karla Gonsalez, the mother of Agustin Gonsalez, addressing the Hayward City Council.

Hayward Police believed Gonsalez was wielding a knife, but after firing on him 13 times, they later learned the victim was holding a razor blade. Family members also question why the Alameda County Coroner’s Office changed the date and time of Gonsalez’s death three times.

Tuesday night’s public comment period quickly escalating after a public speaker criticized Halliday from the lectern for shaking her head while she spoke. As the crowd shouted at Halliday, the mayor exclaimed, “You are through!”

The scene became further tense following gut-wrenching comments by the mother of the victim, Karla Gonsalez. “I just need some answers,” she told the council. “I have to live with this and go to work with a smile on my face. They did not only take my son, they took my life. You guys won’t understand until you make a change or walk in my shoes,” said Gonsalez.

Family members and activists lining the back of the council chambers began chanting. Meanwhile, with her voice cracking, Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday again talked down the group, threatening to call a five-minute recess. Halliday was shouted down by the group.

“We have heard you,” said Halliday, once order was briefly restored. “We have heard you and I’m very sorry that you don’t have the answers you wanted.” The police investigation into the killing continues, she added.

Hayward City Manager Kelly McAdoo later told the family that Police Chief is offering to set up a meeting with them to discuss the incident.

Exactly what type of information Hayward Police can offer the Gonsalez family is unclear under the state law, which often protects police officers involved in shootings.

Some family members demanded police body-cam video of the incident, in addition, to an independent investigation. “This is a story that cries out trigger-happy police,” said Frank Runninghorse, a member of the Oscar Grant Committee. “The police can not investigate themselves. It’s like the fox guarding the hen house.”