By Henry K. Lee
San Francisco Chronicle
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland police sergeant who shot and killed a man described as a possible "person of interest" in a homicide was involved in two previous shootings in recent years, one of them fatal, department officials said Friday.
Sgt. Pat Gonzales, a 10-year veteran, shot and killed Gary King Jr., 20, about 5 p.m. Thursday near 54th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in North Oakland. King fit the description of a "person of interest" in a homicide, said Sgt. Michael Poirier, chief of staff for Police Chief Wayne Tucker.
Gonzales, the supervisor of a crime-reduction team, stopped King on the street and felt a gun through his pants, Poirier said. The two began struggling, and the sergeant used his Taser weapon in an unsuccessful attempt to stun King into submission, police said. The two continued fighting, and Gonzales fired two shots when it appeared that King was reaching for the weapon, Poirier said.
"He was an absolute danger to the life of Sgt. Gonzales," Poirier said. "After using several other measures, he was forced to use deadly force against Mr. King."
But King's parents, Gary and Catherine King, decried what they believed was excessive force. Their son had just left a liquor store with a bag of chips and soda, they said.
"My son didn't deserve to be brutally murdered this way," Gary King, 52, said. "Gary is a good boy, and he didn't hurt anybody and he was well-loved."
Catherine King, 50, acknowledged that her son could have been armed. "If he had a gun, I don't know," she said. "It's possible, and that wouldn't necessarily be the kind of thing he would share with his mom and dad."
Still, she said she didn't believe the sergeant had to shoot to kill.
Their son wasn't involved in any homicide, she said, adding her son probably fit the description of "thousands of 20-year-olds - or thereabouts - men who are light-skinned and have braids around here."
Friends of the slain man set up a makeshift memorial Friday in the median of Martin Luther King Jr. Way that featured pictures of King and messages that read, "RIP G-Money" and "The police did this."
In June 2006, Gonzales shot and wounded 17-year-old Amir Rollins, who was armed with a sawed-off rifle on the 1800 block of East 25th Street, police said. In March 2002, Gonzales shot and killed Joshua Russell, 19, of Hayward after he and an accomplice tried to rob a man at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Burger King restaurant at 14th Avenue and East 12th Street.
Gonzales, a department firearms instructor and SWAT team member, was cleared of any wrongdoing in the previous two shootings, police said.
Copyright 2007 San Francisco Chronicle
Officer who shot, killed a man had been involved in 2 previous shootings