San Leandro: Mayor takes heat for saying man killed by police ‘passed away’

As San Leandro remains stunned by the shooting of 33-year-old Steven Taylor by police  inside a Walmart store last Saturday afternoon, a statement by the mayor on Monday night, is attracting additional criticism after it failed to mention the decedent’s name. In addition, the prepared statement read at the beginning of Monday night’s council meeting said Taylor had “passed away.”

San Leandro beat“Like so many of you, my heart aches for the loss of life in our community this weekend. The outcome of​ this incident was tragic,” San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter said.  “I offer heartfelt condolences to the ​friends, family and loved ones of the man who passed away.”

A number of public speakers were quick to notice the omission of Taylor’s name and the description of him passing away. “Don’t even bother offering your condolences for Steven Taylor, who you didn’t even name. Who didn’t pass away as the speaker said. Who was executed in a time when he needed support the most,” said a speaker who was not identified in the livestream.

“We all saw that video and it was horrible,” said Mike Katz-Lacabe, a San Leandro resident and frequent critic of the police department.  “He was not passing away. That’s a passive voice used to take away responsibility for what happened. That fact is he was shot and killed by San Leandro Police.”

Others also admonished Cutter for her statement. “I think you did a disservice to carefully use the term “pass away” at the beginning when you offered condolences,” San Leandro resident Richard Mellor said, “It’s a bit of a sneaky way of dealing with that, in my opinion. He was shot by the police. I don’t expect you to come out raising Cain, but to use the term “pass away” was a bit disingenuous of you.”

The city appeared to realize its error. The mayor’s statement was posted to the city’s web site, and now includes Taylor’s name, while removing the phrase, “passed way.”

Coincidentally, several public speakers were prepared to address an item previously scheduled for Monday night’s meeting on the San Leandro Police Department’s request to fund additional surveillance cameras in the public space. Last Saturday’s shooting provided them with additional arguments against the proposed expenditure.

“I urge you to not merely table the issue of [surveillance cameras], but to actually just throw it away,” said Cynthia Chandler, a San Leandro resident. “We need to make sure that we’re investing our resources wisely in our community. That we are not wasting resources on policing when the police have just shown themselves to react punitively and not with humanity to people in crisis.”

City staff, however, pulled the item from the agenda on Monday night. It will return to a unspecified future council meeting, the city clerk said.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Taylor is attracting the attention of local and national police accountability activists. An attorney representing Taylor’s family questioned whether San Leandro police officers were justified in using excessive force.

Cell phone video showed Taylor, who had a history of mental health issues, holding a baseball bat as two police officers confronted him inside the Walmart store on Hesperian Boulevard. The attorney for Taylor’s family said it appeared police used a Taser after shooting him.

The city, police department, and Alameda County District Attorney’s office is investigating the incident, Cutter said on Monday night.

“I ask for your patience. I understand this incident has incited strong emotions,” Cutter said to the public. “There is also a great deal of conflicting information out there. I want answers to these questions like everyone does because, before reaching conclusions, we need to determine the facts.”

6 thoughts on “San Leandro: Mayor takes heat for saying man killed by police ‘passed away’

  1. Lothar, it took you a while to respond in this thread, like 5 months. No one else responded. No one cared. Now folks are looking at this a bit differently. I too am a proud Democrat. The officer is correctly charged with voluntary manslaughter. Sorry if you feel this is anti-cop. It is not. It is anti-racist-fascist cop who need to quit selectively killing black, brown, yellow men, women and children because they are afraid. We deserve better from the police and the sheriff.


  2. The officer was protecting himself from a mentally disturbed man intent on killing him. Case closed. As a North Bay resident and proud Democrat, I’m getting pretty queasy hearing all this anti-cop nonsense. They can’t win for losing while protecting citizens from very dangerous people. Wait until things really heat up and get even uglier then they are now. Just ask the mayor of Portland.


  3. Bruce, How many of your race and in your neighborhood have the cops shot and killed? The bat looked new as did the back pack, perhaps they were taken within the store. Your statement of mental defect on the part of Taylor is based on press reports that came from quotes the same day from the family, who were not identified. Taylor is dead, so there is no chance of a trial. All of the calls were from the Security folks at Walmart. Officer B did nothing other than to block his body cam and fire his Taser as quickly as possible. No crisis intervention observed at all by anyone. You are White, with a long tradition of segregation in San Leandro. You likely thought that Oscar Grant was correctly restrained and thought that his murderer was unfairly hassled by the press. Stop the police from killing people of Color. Hold the Police and the community accountable for their actions. The police should be part of the community. Not sure why you were a guest of the cops. Drunk, Statutory Rape. Car Theft, Grant Theft, Shop Lifting, Indecent Exposuref, Arsonist, Assault, Eco Terrorist and Battery, Spousal Abuse, . Pimp? You did not specify or were you just singled out by tthe police because of your skin color?


  4. So… Let’s see if I get this; Mr Taylor had a history some sort of mental disturbances. He entered Walmart, armed with a club (a bat IS a club and a deadly weapon) and behaving erratically. It appears he was engaged with the cops in some way… The followed him into the store and he WAS facing them.

    What happened before he entered? This footage shows too little to know.

    I can point to a situation not too long ago, just a little to the north, at Macarthur BART. A young woman was killed and her sister seriously wounded. Her parents sued BART for not offering sufficient protection from the person who also had a history of mental issues.

    I’m no fan of cops. Spent plenty of time in their “company” unwillingly, but this is starting to look like you’re damned if you do or don’t. In this case, only the man holding the club died. In the Macarthuer BART case, one young woman dies. Her sister was grievously injured and the man who did it will spend a very long time in what we laughingly call a penal institution… His life effectively gone too.

    As ugly as it is to think. The price, in life, was lower this time.

    As the Oakland Police commission, its a kangaroo court. You may as well have Madame La Defarge cackling “Guillotine!” in the corner, for all the good they do for the community.


  5. The best thing that can come out of this mess is the replacement of the mayor as well as the Police Chief and the command structure that supported this murder. One should say that it is much more important to protect the names of the Killer Kops and not the family of Steven Taylor.

    While I am no fan of the Oakland type of Police Commission, perhaps it is time that the community itself began to exert some control on these cops and their desire to cover the body cam and shoot first and blame the dead guy.


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