HAYWARD: Wahab calls for independent investigation of fatal police shooting

Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab said Tuesday night that she will ask for an independent investigation of deadly force used by Hayward police officers in the Nov. 15 death of Agustin Gonsalez.

Wahab made the announcement prior to a Hayward City Council public comment period Tuesday that again highlighted the Gonsalez family’s growing frustration with the city over transparency and outrage over the district attorney’s report released last week.

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Family, friends, and supporters of Agustin Gonsalez demonstrating inside the Hayward City Council chambers Tuesday night.

“An independent investigation is not something we should fear or fight,” Wahab said. “It is truly something that we can learn from. All of us should acknowledge our imperfections and we can all learn from reassessing our actions in every situation. It’s even more important in situations where life becomes death.”

Wahab will offer a formal council referral at the June 4 meeting, she said. The meeting could be a combustible situation. Hayward Police Chief Mark Koller is scheduled to address the council the same night. Koller’s appearance was originally scheduled for this Tuesday night.

Whether or not the full council will approve Wahab’s referral for an independent investigation of the fatal shooting is an open question. But councilmembers will have an opportunity next week to voice some of their opinions on the issue.

After a lawsuit was filed against the city by the Gonsalez family earlier this year, councilmembers, on advice from the city attorney, have kept silent about the shooting and whether an additional investigation is warranted.

An investigation by the police department is ongoing, said Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday.

The potential of a independent inquiry, however, did little to quell the Gonsalez family’s outrage with the city, its police department, and a Alameda County District Attorney’s reports several said was offensive to them and littered with inconsistencies.

Cynthia Nunes, a relative of Gonsalez, peppered her descriptions of the report with expletives before her testimony was cut off by Halliday. Nunes then approached the dais, handed Halliday her copy of the D.A.’s report and told her to read it again.

A scene at Hayward City Hall that has played out on several other occasions involving the Gonsalez shooting then followed.

The audience jeered and shouted down the council, which led Halliday to call a five-minute recess. The mayor then warned another outburst would result in ejections from the council chambers.

Karla Gonsalez, the mother of the slain 29-year-old, slammed the report’s findings that Hayward police officers, Phillip Wooley and Michael Clark, were justified in their decision to fire upon Gonsalez, who they later learned had a history of mental illness.

The officers initially believed Gonsalez was holding a knife in his hands when they approached him on Oneil Avenue in Hayward last November.

Instead, Gonsalez may have been holding a razor blade. But the D.A.’s report raises questions of whether Gonsalez had anything in his hands when police shot him up to 14 times.

“Did he intend to kill my son? I don’t know. Do I think he murdered my son? Yes,” Karla Gonsalez said of Officer Woolley.

She was also highly critical of Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s to leave the family out of loop by first releasing the report to the city, and later, upon request, to the media.

“It would have been nice if Nancy O’Malley would have sat down with us and discussed this case. Instead, I learned it from the media again. Again, transparency with Hayward is horrible. Fix it,” Gonsalez said.

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