Fred Collins, 48, Dies in a Hail of Bullets After Taser Gun Fails
On Saturday, 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?”
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.