AFRICANGLOBE – Perhaps you’ve heard or read the name Raheim Brown Jr. He’s the 20-year-old Black man who was beaten then shot and killed by Oakland School Police Department Sgt. Bhatt.
In January 2011 Brown and a female companion were parked in a vehicle in the Oakland Hills when they were approached by officers Barhin Bhatt and Jonathan Bellusa, who were working as hired security guards for an Oakland School District dance being held at Skyline High School.
The officers reported that they first approached the vehicle, which was not parked at the school or on campus, because the hazard lights were flashing. Brown and his friend didn’t need help. As a justification for questioning them, the officers claimed they smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle after approaching it. Other reports have claimed the officers thought the car was stolen. The officers also reported Brown threatened to stab Barhin with a screwdriver that he had in the car.
As Brown and his companion sat, buckled-up, in the car, the officers began beating them both.
What exactly happened next, no one is certain because the requests for the full reports of the shooting by Lori Davis, mother of Raheim Brown, and her attorney, John Burris, have yet to be fulfilled by the Oakland Unified School District.
What is known is that Bellusa, who was outside the car on the passenger side where Raheim Brown was sitting, ordered a first round of shots. The shots were fired by Bhatt, who was outside the car on the driver side near the female driver. Bhatt fired at Raheim Brown across the driver multiple times, but Raheim Brown remained living at this time. Bhatt’s gun jammed. He cleared it, then a second round of shots was fired, killing Raheim Brown.
Davis filed a wrongful death suit against OUSD, which operates and employs the district police officers who shot and killed Brown.
Breaking ‘Code Blue’
This case is highly suspicious for many reasons: 1) A complete report containing all the details has yet to be made available to the public, Ms. Davis or her attorney; 2) there was definite mismanagement on the part of OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith directly following the shooting, as well as by OSPD Chief Williams; 3) an Oakland School Police Department officer is calling foul against his own department.
What has come as a “whistle-blowing” effort by Bellusa has also rocked the community and the department’s claims.
Bellusa filed a federal complaint against the OSPD claiming retaliation for his refusal to lie about the second round of shots that killed Raheim Brown. In his complaint, Bellusa claims that the second round of shots weren’t necessary because Raheim Brown was no longer a threat, after being shot with the first round.
According to Davis, who cited testimony by former Sgt. Bellusa of OSPD, Superintendent Tony Smith was accompanied by some Oakland School Board members at the crime scene – directly following the shooting.
“Based on Bellusa’s testimony in his deposition,” said Davis, “Tony Smith came down there and tried to get him to do witness tampering. He tried to get their (Bhatt and Bellusa’s) stories together.”
Bellusa, who is now on paid administrative leave is accusing the OSPD of a pattern of corruption.
For the Davis wrongful-death case, the Bellusa complaint and the federal investigation underway bring light to the issue of a cover-up by the OSPD.
“You don’t get one officer to lie for the other one,” said Davis.
Raheim Brown and the Police’s Problem With Guns
Incidents like the Raheim Brown killing highlight a huge debate going on in America right now about the necessity of armed district staff in schools. This comes after the terrible December 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children, six teachers, the shooter and his mother were shot and killed.
For African-Americans, the issue may be more of a concern regarding security officers being armed when working at schools with large numbers of African-American students. Black communities are extremely reluctant to put guns in the hands of those who terrorize Black children and youth the most: the police. To whites, police officers are there to protect civilians.
When asked whether OUSD needs a police department, Davis said; “They don’t need police – just regular security.”
The rate of officer involved shootings seems to be increasing.
In an update, posted July 16, 2012, to a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement that was originally released April 6, 2012, MXGM wrote:
Invasive policing is only one aspect of the U.S. states’ comprehensive containment strategies to exploit Black people and to smother resistance … The U.S. state maintains and reinforces these economic injustices with the militarized occupation of Black communities by the police and a web of racist legislation like the ‘war on drugs,’ discriminatory policies like ‘three strikes’ and ‘mandatory minimum’ sentencing. The result is a social system that mandates the prison warehousing of millions of African-Americans and extrajudicial killings where the killers act with impunity and more often than not are rewarded and promoted for murder.
These views are backed by data tracking police killings, or “extrajudicial killings,” over many months. The latest data collected by MXGM shows that a Black person in the U.S. is killed every 28 hours by law enforcement.