Mack ‘Jody’ Woodfox

Man shot in the back as he fled from police during a traffic stop

by 4WardEver UK
Originally published
10th April 2009

Updates on this case are listed at the foot of this item

Mack ‘Jody’ Woodfox, aged 27, was fatally shot on 25th July 2008 by officer Hector Jiminez of the Oakland Police Department during an attempted traffic stop. Preliminary autopsy results showed that the unarmed victim had been shot in the back. Lt. Ersie Joyner, in charge of the Oakland Police Department’s homicide section, said it appeared that Mack “took rounds to the rear of his torso.” Joyner later said the coroner’s full report was pending toxicology results, and he could not offer more details.

“Oakland, unfortunately, has had a history of treating the African-American community unfairly,” said George Holland Sr., an attorney who heads the Oakland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “The community has a great distrust for police officers because they feel they can’t be punished.”

Mack’s autopsy came on the heels of Oakland attorney John Burris’ call for criminal charges, including homicide, to be filed against Jimenez. This was the second fatal police shooting involving Jimenez. The officer, who graduated from the police academy in February 2007, was involved in another shooting in December 2007 in which Andrew Moppin, 20, was killed. Moppin, who was yelling and swearing at officers, was also unarmed. It is alledged that Jimenez and another officer both fired shots after Moppin made a quick move toward his waistband.

Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan said the Moppin shooting had been fully investigated and found to be within department policy, and that the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, which investigates police-involved shootings, found no criminal negligence.

Jordan acknowledged that some circumstances of Mack’s shooting may raise questions but claimed that all officer-involved shootings are taken seriously. He said; “All of them do, and all are thoroughly investigated,”

It is reported that the shooting took place after Mack led police on a high-speed chase that started about 3:50 a.m. and lasted about a mile, eventually ending at Fruitvale and East 17th Street. Police said Jimenez and another officer saw him driving a 1993 Buick Regal in a dangerous manner and tried to pull him over. When he did stop his car, it was said that he immediately jumped out and tried to flee, making “a furtive movement” that suggested he was reaching for a weapon at his waistband.

The shooting occurred at a range of less than 25 feet, Joyner said. Both Jimenez, who was the passenger in the police cruiser that night, and a second officer, who was driving, were placed on administrative leave, as is standard, pending investigations into a shooting. That a suspect is trying to flee police does not automatically mean he poses no immediate threat, Joyner went on to say. He added that the police department has a thorough policy on use of force.

Jordan, Joyner and Sgt. Roland Holmgren, a department spokesman, said the department will try to be as transparent as possible in responding to the shooting but warned that some information will be kept confidential to protect the investigation.

In 2007, Oakland police were involved in 12 shootings, of which five were fatal, Holmgren said. By July 2008, five of seven police-involved shootings had been fatal. Holmgren said police only fire a gun in response to an immediate need to stop danger. In that situation, they are trained to aim at the center body mass to ensure a hit, he said. “Shooting guns out of people’s hands, stuff like that, it only happens on TV,” Holmgren said. “I’d like to see them try it on a shooting range. It’s hard.”

Friction between law enforcement and Oakland’s black community has persisted for decades. In 1968, Black Panther Bobby Hutton, 17, was killed by police during a shoot-out. More than 2,000 people attended his funeral.

Public confidence in the Oakland police was further undermined by a corruption case involving several officers known as the Riders who were accused in 2000 of planting evidence and assaulting drug suspects. The officers were fired but were eventually acquitted in two separate criminal trials. A judge ordered the department to implement reforms, and Oakland paid $11 million to 119 people who claimed they were abused.


Follow-up News:

Kill and be killed: Police murders in Oakland
26 March 2009

The Struggle for Justice for Jody Woodfox Continues!
18 November 2008

Family sues Oakland over fatal police shooting
3 September 2008

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