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Cops kill again in Oakland

July 19, 2010

Fred Collins, 48, dies in a hail of police bullets, after taser gun fails

by Dennis Bernstein

This is Fred Collins, the man killed by Oakland and BART police July 17, according to The mainstream media still has not released his photo or identified him by race, but it's clear from his appearance that the police who shot him dead thought he was Black. Are the police and the media afraid that their murder of another Black man at the Fruitvale BART Station would enrage the community?
Here we go again: another police kill at the same rail transit station in Oakland, California, where 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the back last year.

And while the circumstances of Saturday’s early morning police shooting are very different from those in the Grant case, there are many questions that need to raised about a violent police over-reaction.

Yesterday, Oakland and Bay Area Rapid Transit police shot and killed a reportedly “Hispanic looking” man near the Fruitvale station in Oakland. The first reports, all from the police, said the man was “armed,” wielding two knives.

The dead man was not identified until Sunday, when an OPD spokesperson gave his name and age as Fred Colllins, 48. None of the dozens of officers who answered the call were hurt during the incident.

According to police officials, Oakland homicide detectives, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, and the internal affairs units of the Oakland and BART police departments are conducting administrative investigations into the shooting.

An eyewitness, looking out her window, said the man was walking backwards yelling for the police to shoot him. According to a television interview with the eye-witness, the man had his hands up.

Ultimately, the man died in a barrage of police bullets – at least five cops shot him down. Dozens of cops were on the scene. Given the number of shooters, it may never be known which bullet killed the man.

The description given by several eye-witnesses does not appear to square with the police decision to cut the man down with a hail of bullets, from at least five guns. Police claim they tasered the man several times but it didn’t have any effect. Then he came at them with a pair of knives.

Here’s what one eye-witness was filmed saying to local TV. Again she watched it out the window of her house in Fruitvale, a short distance from the rail station:

“When they turned here at the corner, there was, I want to say, about 10 policemen, all gathered together. And then I saw this man walking backwards, like this (both hands up), saying, ‘Shoot me, shoot me, shoot me’! And the police, I didn’t hear none of the police say anything. They were just gathered together, following him while he was walking backwards all the way through that street,” said Letty, who did not give her last name. “And then all of a sudden, I hear a little pop and then right after that I hear bup, bup, bup, bup, bup!”

The BayCitizen reported, according to eye-witness interviews, that the man was wearing two backpacks – one on his back and one on his front, and was shot after he tried to reach inside one. Police say nothing about a backpack.

Fourteen-year-old Florencia Osores told the BayCitizen that she watched the shooting out her window with her family. Osores said she saw about “15” cops in pursuit. The man stopped running and turned around.

“The cops said, ‘Stop!’” she said. Collins turned his back to officers and “looked like he was taking something from his bag.” According to the teen eye-witness, that’s when the cops opened up with a barrage of fire. “I’ve never seen the cops versus a person before,” she said. “They shouldn’t be trying to kill him. Couldn’t they have shot him in the leg?”

Oakland PD ill prepared for crisis intervention

Mesha Monge Irizarry knows a great deal about police overreaction and a lot about the nature and impact of the 50,000 watt taser the police claim was ineffective in stopping their alleged suspect.

Over the years, Irizarry has given courses to the police in non-violent escalation, but in a tragic twist of fate saw her own 23-year-old son, Idriss Stelley, a 4.0 college student, go down in a barrage of 48 bullets in 2001.

“I have thoroughly studied this. It’s a common practice for police to all starting firing at once,” said Irizarry. “They know when they shoot together, it’s almost impossible to find out who shot first or whose bullet ended a life.”

She says she’s extremely suspicious about the police claims that the taser didn’t stop the man or even slow him down.

“There’s no such thing as it doesn’t have any effect, like the police are claiming. They’re full of bull. It’s not like a little shock from a faulty circuit. It totally shuts your body down. Many people have died from one application.”

Irizarry volunteered to be tasered in 2006 during an international human rights gathering in San Francisco. “It takes you out for a full seven seconds. That’s when the police are supposed to act” to subdue a person.

A taser “totally shuts your body down. Many people have died from one application.” – Mesha Monge Irizarry

James Keys, chair of San Francisco City and County Board of Mental Health, also has grave doubts about the police claims that the taser had little or no effect. “I find it hard to believe that they shot him like that with a taser several times and he kept going … That amount of voltage [makes it] hard to believe.”

Keys says that OPD has failed “for decades in with dealing with situations like this … I cannot understand why they couldn’t subdue that man without using a kill shot. There are many other ways.”

The local NBC news affiliate reported that “witnesses in the area said the man kept crying that officers shot him” with a taser.

I cannot understand why they couldn’t subdue that man without using a kill shot. There are many other ways.” – James Keys

Keys, who grew up in Oakland, said the problem is bigger than crisis intervention. He said the OPD doesn’t have the trust or the support of the community, and people of color are not going to be rushing to turn themselves in, in order to become the next Oscar Grant.

The body of Fred Collins lay on the pavement for four hours Saturday after he was killed in a hail of bullets by Oakland and BART police outside the Fruitvale BART Station, the same station where, on New Year’s 2009, Oscar Grant was murdered by BART police. – Video frame: KTVU via CNN
“I grew up in Oakland as an African American … and the police have never dealt well” with Black and Brown people. “The prevailing attitude is that white officers kill” people of color. “That’s the mindset: People are afraid of the police in Oakland.”

Keys was disappointed in Mayor Dellums’ actions around both the killing of Oscar Grant as well as his willingness to jump on the bandwagon with the police department, when he should be more of a “joiner,” bringing people together rather than immediately siding with the police.

Mayor Ron Dellums released a statement on Saturday afternoon – a “joint news release” on the shooting, on behalf of the Oakland Police Department, the Mayor’s Office and BART officials – urging calm but voicing little concern about the pattern of violence and over-reaction shown by BART and Oakland police.

“Anytime there is a loss of life, it is a matter of great concern and sadness for us all,” Dellums said in his written statement. “It is extremely important that we as a community continue to work together in order to provide a safe and secure environment. Therefore, a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding this death has begun.”

BART also announced a “thorough” investigation into the shooting. “The loss of life under any circumstance is truly an unfortunate and regrettable event,” wrote BART Vice President Bob Franklin and board member Carole Ward Allen in the joint statement.

“The BART Police Department is cooperating fully with the Oakland Police Department who has the lead in the investigation into today’s officer involved shooting. We have immediately launched a separate but parallel administrative investigation as well to ensure this incident is thoroughly investigated in a transparent manner.

There is “something wrong at the core,” says Irizarry. It’s about the police abuse of power, and their decision, all too often, to use force over reason.

The police in Oakland and the BART Police “should be the last to be called,” she said. “Why isn’t the mayor talking about crisis intervention teams, instead of sending cops out who have no training in intervention with distraught people, who are not trained in crisis de-escalation … Calling the police to do a non-violent intervention with a troubled person is like calling the mortician to deliver a baby.”

“People are very scared,” local resident Juanna Nieva told one reporter. “I am really worried for kids. People are living in fear in Oakland.”

“Calling the police to do a non-violent intervention with a troubled person is like calling the mortician to deliver a baby.” – Mesha Monge Irizarry

Now the question for many people of color in Oakland is: Are they more fearful of the criminals or of the cops who are supposed to protect them?

Investigative journalist Dennis Bernstein hosts Flashpoints, heard on KPFA 94.1 FM weekdays at 5 p.m. and archived at and He can be reached at

35 thoughts on “Cops kill again in Oakland

  1. Rational Citizen

    Over-reaction? What critics of the police want them to do? They cannot just allow people to threaten to attacks with lethal weapons and shoot after an officer or innocent citizen is wounded or killed. People who complain about police killing attackers should ask themselves what would they do if someone was coming after one of their loved ones with a knife, gun or other deadly weapon.

    You put on a badge (no gun) and go police the deadly streets of the Bay Area. We will see how many violent criminals you will arrest!

    This is not a situation like Oscar Grant's killing. So stop trying to make it sound like it was police misconduct.

    1. DAS

      Here we go again with the SF Bay Area and their bullshit media. C'mon. The aforementioned subject was coming at them with a knife in each hand. Put yourself in that situation—would you try to disarm someone violently approaching with two deadly weapons in their hand? Do you think you would have the ability to shoot someone in the leg who was charging you, trying to kill you?

      The only people I feel sorry for are the Bay Area police officers immediately put on trial by the liberal aka spineless media.

  2. Mark Jamason

    What is the common thread here. people who should be responsible and do what authorities ask them to, but don't. Your comments about shooting to wound show your lack of knowledge about use of force policies withn police departments.

    Your witness comment;

    "The cops said, ‘Stop!’” she said. Collins turned his back to officers and “looked like he was taking something from his bag.” According to the teen eye-witness, that’s when the cops opened up with a barrage of fire. “I’ve never seen the cops versus a person before,” she said. “They shouldn’t be trying to kill him. Couldn’t they have shot him in the leg?”

    People who ask to be shot, don't listen to reasonable orders to comply and act in a threatening manner do get shot. Should the cops have waited till he pulled out a weapon? You sensationalize these events not for real journalistic objectivity rather because you hate white people and this is your forum for spreading that hate.

  3. Pablo Paredes

    I lived in Japan when I was in the Navy for 2 and a half years. Police there did not carry guns or tasers and people never feared the police. They had great training and dealt often with violence but because they had the right tools and not weapons they were never responsible for escalating situations from disturbance of the peace to homicide. I watched on more than one occasion the way they dealt very professionally with very strong drunk, and high foreigners out of control in the downtown party district. I saw US Marines drunk, and armed with broken bottles and tons of training run at cops and be de-escalated. I saw one nut who was about 2 feet taller than most of the unarmed police swing a mike stand at the cops repeatedly. In all those situations no one was killed or even seriously injured and the main reason is that no one brought guns into it. Japan has plenty of violent crime (look up Yakuza if you think Oakland is dangerous) and yet cops handle it well without guns or tasers.

    1. John Mulligan

      There are so many factors that make Japan radically different from the US that it doesn't make sense to suggest that because Japanese cops don't have guns, then US cops don't need them either. For one, Japan is a fairly racist country and they make no secret of the fact that they want to keep their country pure Japanese. Racial and religious hegemony contribute to a peaceful society. Even though Japan has some of the strictest immigration systems in the world, they still need immigrant workers. The Japanese government and press blame immigrants for most crime. Indeed, there is a constant effort by the Japanese to get rid of American soldiers and bases in Japan for the very reasons you describe. Perhaps most importantly, Japan fosters shame. Shame is a big deal in Japan. Dropping out of school, committing a crime, having a child out of wedlock or losing a job are all sources of extreme shaming in Japan often leading to suicide. Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. The United States is different entirely. We have and encourage diversity. We encourage pride. Take a look around this website, people in prison are "behind enemy lines." No where on this website is there any evidence of shame. Both systems have benefits and both have flaws. Simply suggesting that US cops have their guns taken away is a really simplistic view, particularly in light of the fact of the number of people shot in this country by armed criminals. I'm sure you wouldn't suggest a nationwide, house to house search for guns to get rid of all guns in the country. That would seem extreme and fascist. But that's what it would take to justify getting cops to give up guns.

  4. James Keys

    The varied "eyewitness" accounts do have a "common thread" that the police where ill-prepared to for this type of encounter. We need to train Oakland Police Officers to use understanding and skills gained through specific training to identify and provide the most effective and compassionate response possible to police situations involving people in a mental health crisis.

  5. G-ride

    Imagine a world completely run by liberals. Cops would not be able to carry guns but criminals and illegal aliens would be able to roam the streets freely. Child molesters would all be held up as heroes and our military would be dissolved.

    1. Wolf

      There's a term for it: anarcho-tyranny. It's a government slow to do the limited number of things it should do — such as secure the borders and punish criminals — and quick to do things it shouldn't. Oakland is moving in that direction, no?

  6. Selina

    TO: G-Ride & Mulligan
    Your Military is a bunch murders, rapist. The world would be GREAT WITHOUT THE U.S. Military
    As far as Japan having a racist society so does the U.S. and the Japanese police and its people aren't barbaric like the police are in the U.S. That's the difference and they are not properly trained to deal with human beings They Are BEAST

    1. Wolf

      Actually, our military spends most of their time trying to help people rebuild countries that can not or do not want to be "rebuilt."

      Their reward? They get bombed, shot at, spit at, and hated.

      We probably agree on this, however: we should bring our troops home, and let the rest of the world sort itself out.

      1. Selina

        Well that's their damn probably who the hell ask for the assistance and just the U.S. gov't/corporations ploy to get in that country and take advantage of any mineral or oil resources that country has

  7. John Mulligan

    Selina, on Sunday an Asian man was killed, again, in Oakland by two black men for $17 dollars. Does that sound like barbarism to you?

    Tell me how exactly the police should react to this kind of racist murder that seems to go on all the time these days. Do you really think that these men who shot Jinghong Kang were human beings? What kind of training is required to deal with men like this?

    But that's not what I was writing about. I was responding to Mr. Paredes who used Japan as an example for a country with less violence. I explained to Mr. Paredes that taking guns away from cops would not bring us a country as peaceful as Japan. Let me ask you one more thing Selina, when a Japanese tourist comes to the United States to visit, do you think that tourist is going to be worried about the police?

    1. Werwolf

      This site is full of lies and propaganda that seems designed to incite people to violence. Any thoughts?

    2. Selina

      In response to your questions: Your ? on Sunday an Asian man was killed, again, in Oakland by two black men for $17 dollars. Does that sound like barbarism to you?

      My answer: In Jasper, Tx a few yr.s ago a Black man was drugg several miles from the back of pick-up truck by three white whom James Byrd ( the victim ) had previously be-friended one of the men that killed him [ Would you call that Civil ? or maybe You would ]

      Your Second Question: When a Japanese tourist comes to the United States to visit, do you think that tourist is going to be worried about the police?

      I don't know maybe especially when news like incidents of Rodney King and Oscar Grant gets reported in international new and the case of Rodney King was report in international news.
      But I do know this for A Fact If a African Tourist where to come here I believe they would definitely be concern about the American Policemen because someone like me would warn them

      1. Werwolf

        So you want to keep score? You want to talk about crime by one race against another?

        Six year old Jake Robel was ripped from his mother’s arms and dragged to death on a busy highway. The perp, Kim Davis, was a lifelong criminal who had been released from jail despite having an outstanding warrant.

        Davis carjacked Robel’s mother. However, when his mother tried to get him out of the car, Davis sped off. Robel was dragged to death on the interstate in Kansas City, Mo in front of hundreds of horrified witnesses. Davis was stopped, when other cars surrounded and blocked him. By this time, Robel’s body had been ripped to shreds.

        This horrifying public murder took place in 2000. It was ignored.

        Two years earlier in Waco, Texas three ex-cons — two white, one Latino — dragged to death a black ex-con they knew — and possibly feuded with — in prison. The white ringleader, King, may have wanted revenge for being gang raped by blacks in prison. King was sentenced to death. Yet to this day, twelve years later, the media still talks about this crime constantly.

        Ask yourself, why have you never heard of Jake Robel? Imagine for a second that Jake Robel was black and his killer was white. In instances when it was reported, all references to race were censored and no pictures were shown.

        Did you know?The same day of the relentlessly reported Waco dragging death, an elderly white man was brutally murdered by two black men in the same city! This was reported in the local paper only, and nowhere else.

        Patricia Stansfield, 46, formerly of Streator, Ill, was killed early Aug. 2 by being dragged three miles from downtown Streator to nearby Kangley. She was last seen minutes before, talking with a young man outside a restaurant. Following a trail of blood stains and clothing, LaSalle County Sheriff’s deputies determined she had been dragged from Vermilion River bridge on Illinois 18 to near Kangley Road.

        This story was quarantined to local coverage only and most outlets censored all pictures and mentions of race. The story was deliberately hidden from the public even as nightly recaps of the Waco dragging death continued.

        So here's what I'm saying. You're being fed a diet of lies and propaganda meant to INCITE you to immoral and illegal acts.

          1. Werwolf

            Tit for tat? Do you know the numbers? Violent black on white crime IS FAR greater than white on black crime. It's ridiculous, frankly. Educate yourself.

          2. Selina

            You must consider the history of violence done by whites against blacks
            There's Even literature that supports that violence "Without Santuary and "100 Lynchings"
            and current news and television reports.
            I'm aware we're as violent towards as you are violents us this is violent society. Just look at how your ancester ( I take take it Your Caucasain ?) conquered this continent and Africa through violence, hatred Look at what your doing over in Iraq, Afganistan, what you did do in Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Chile-Overthrow of President Allende
            the list goes.
            Your more violent then I'll ever be the stuff you listed about blacks is just Child's play

          3. Werwolf

            And from your nonsense we get a justification for the killing of an Asian man Jinghong Kang. Reducto ad absurdum.

            Look up the history of slavery. Less than 5% of southern whites owned slaves. How many of their descendants live in Oakland? Not many, if any.

            If you were to kill a white man in Oakland, would it make sense for me to travel to Kenya and punch someone in the face in retaliation? No, of course not.

            We could go on. That, however is a fool's game.

            Your problem with whites isn't that we're more violent than anyone else. That's nonsense. Your problem is that when things get violent, we tend to win.

            So, don't get violent.

          4. Werwolf

            Oh, and since we're exchanging reading lists, I suggest you try Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel."

  8. JayDee

    The person who got murdered was Fred Collins. He was murdered by police. The murders are the police. There's nothing you can spin to disprove that.

    1. Werwolf

      I wish Fred Collins was not dead. But the man was carrying knives, not following instructions from the police, and reached inside his backpack. So, you're saying the police should have waited to see what he pulled out of his pack?

  9. Standyman

    While we are very sensitive to cop killings, one must realize this guy may have had two backpacks on front and back. That can stop the effectiveness of tasing. Being a brother I know that can get you killed. Especially if you act crazy and ask to be shot. The outcome is not surprising, yet unfortunate. The amount of lead in him is of concern to most. The adrenaline factor makes every cop fire one after another. They are not going to aim to mame! They shoot to kill. That is their training. Firing range target
    is of the upper torso, not the legs or arms. Rest in peace Fred Collins

    1. mesha Irizarry

      2 discrepant accounts:

      first police communique to the associated press contended :
      "shoot me, shoot me"
      But a witness stated:
      "He was crying and saying THEY SHOT ME"

  10. mesha Monge-Irizarry

    why is it that
    Fred Collins's body was under a blue tarp in full view for FOUR HOURS
    (sadly reminiscent of the body of Cammerin Boyd left on the pavement for over 7 hours after being killed by SFPD in May 2005…),
    while when a pedestrian is killed in traffic,
    the Coroner picks up the body right after forensics measurements ?

    Why was BLACK Fred Collins killed,
    while WHITE survivalist Byron Williams, in a truck load of weapons,
    2 days later, was shooting at police for 30 minutes on 580,
    and brought ALIVE to a hospital, now in ":fair condition"?

    Need I say more ?
    Food 4 thoughts ?

    1. Werwolf

      Are you stupid? Williams was wearing a BULLET-PROOF VEST, Collins wasn't. Is that so difficult to understand?

  11. Selina

    To Werwolf

    I don't have an issue with whites you people have an issue with All people of African descent

    Your statics of 5% ownship of slaves must have came out of comic book. " Guns and Germs" B@ll Sh#t show derived out of the white man's imagination

  12. Selina

    To Werwolf: Your Statement
    Your problem is that when things get violent, we tend to win.
    The only time you will win at the game of violence is when I don't have the same weapons as you
    but now I can get access and use an AK-47, RPG a nuclear just like you therefore when we're equal in weaponry that MEANS I WIN, I CAN NOW WIPE YOU OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH!!!

  13. Werwolf


    Let me make sure I've followed the argument you have laid out over several posts, because you're confusing me… or maybe you're just confused.

    Whites — despite below-average crime statistics — are far more violent than anyone on earth.

    This justifies the murder of Asians by blacks.

    Also: you now have nuclear weapons.

    So, I take it this means you're going to bomb the Chinese?

    You're not making much sense here.

    Seriously. You've been told a lot of lies about the world. And they're obviously making you very angry.

    The fact many people are told lies by publications such as this one might explain some of the lopsided statistics we're seeing regarding black on white (or asian) crime.

    I would suggest you do some reading, and start questioning your assumptions.

    As you've noticed, I certainly question them. Which is why you're going to get comments from me you won't get out of 99.999% of other white people, who are guilt-tripped, media-brainwashed fools.


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