Malik Brown

Picture of Raheim Brown On Saturday, Jan. 22, 2010 20-year-old Raheim Malik Brown was shot and killed by the Oakland Unified School District’s police force near a Skyline High School dance. Police statements and media have reported that Brown tried to stab an officer with a screwdriver, and a second officer shot Brown five times – once in each arm, once in his chest and twice in his head – in defense of his partner.

On Thursday, Feb. 3, outside the OUSD headquarters, Brown’s mother, Lori Davis, spoke at a press conference. Calling the killing an “assassination,” she was horrified by the excessive use of force by school police officers. Davis believes that Sgts. Barhim Bhatt and Jonathan Bellusa, the two cops identified at the press conference as the two involved in Brown’s killing, should “never be able to work in another police department ever.”

Tamisha Stewart, the only civilian witness to the killing, who was in the car with Brown outside the Skyline High dance, spoke for the first time publicly about the event. The screwdriver Brown was accused of using as a weapon, according to Stewart, was being used in an attempt to hotwire the car, and it “never left the ignition.”

While hotwiring a car might be cause for police attention, it is not cause for five bullets, including two to the head. Stewart added, “There was nothing that Raheim did that he deserved to die.” According to statements at the press conference, after Brown was killed, Stewart was beaten badly and jailed for almost a week.

An Oakland teacher’s union representative also spoke at the Thursday press conference, saying that the union had voted to “support fully an independent investigation” into Brown’s killing and the OUSD Police Department.

Brown was one of three people killed by police in a single week in Oakland. In early 2010 former Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts called on the FBI for an external investigation into the November police
killing of Derrick Jones. As initial police statements contrast sharply with Stewart’s account of Brown’s killing, further investigation into this case might also be warranted.