Earlier this year, police accountability advocates and the family of Agustin Gonsalez, the 29-year-old who was fatally shot by Hayward police officers in November 2018, forcefully urged Hayward city officials to seek an independent investigation of his death.
The on-going investigation by the Hayward Police into the shooting, in which Gonsalez, who had a documented history of mental illness, was shot 13 times, is inherently partial to police officers, the family stated. So would an investigation by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s office, they added, noting her re-election effort had received large amounts of campaign contributions from local police unions.
A series of rollicking Hayward City Council earlier this year, imbued with the anger of police critics and profound sadness from members of the Gonsalez family has, perhaps, made an impact.
Hayward city staff, along with new Police Chief Toney Chaplin is recommending the City Council institute a policy that calls on the state attorney general’s office to investigate police use-of-deadly force cases involving Hayward officers.
The City Council will consider the new policy at its Nov. 5 meeting. A closed session item prior to Tuesday night’s meeting is scheduled to include a discussion on the Gonsalez family’s lawsuit against the city and police department.
A referral asking staff to study the impact of a third-party review of officer-involved shootings was first offered by Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab and unanimously approved by the council last June.
Under the proposal, occasions when Hayward police officers use deadly force will continue to be investigated by the department, in addition, to another by the district attorney’s office. A review by the state attorney general’s office would constitute a third probe. The state AG, however, could decline any request by the city for an investigation.
The policy, as described, would only cover officer-involved incidents when the suspect’s injuries are fatal.
If approved, the policy would be retroactive to the Gonsalez shooting, which occurred on Nov. 15, 2018.