HAYWARD — A federal lawsuit filed this week alleges a 17-year-old shot by police in June was struck twice in the back and that officers removed bullets from his body by hand, before paramedics arrived.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, also disputes the Hayward Police Department’s account that the teen posed a threat to police as he drove away from a reported looting scene.
The Stockton teenager, his attorney said, had awakened alone in his older cousin’s car, had not looted or stolen anything, and was frightened and confused when he drove past officers. His back wounds suggest he was shot after he passed the officers, Attorney Adante Pointer said Wednesday.
“It’s barbaric,” Pointer said, “the way in which they tried to minimize the harm they caused this young man.” The officers “took the bullets out and hauled him off to Juvenile Hall. It’s completely inappropriate and fortunately it didn’t cause more severe damage to him.”
The shooting happened around 4 a.m. on June 1, while Hayward and other Bay Area cities were under curfew following nights of unrest in the aftermath of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Hayward police were called to a CVS pharmacy on Harder Road and Mission Boulevard on reports of looting and possible gunfire, officials have said. As police were detaining two men in a parked car, other vehicles began leaving the parking lot, police said.
One of the vehicles was driven by the 17-year-old, who authorities claim drove directly toward Officer Samuel Tomlinson, who was standing outside his patrol car. Tomlinson fired first at the car, believing it might hit him. Officer Stephen Akacsos also fired his weapon believing “his partner had either been shot or struck by the vehicle,” Hayward police said in a June 26 news release.
After the shooting, the teenager crashed the car and then hid in a bush, where police soon found him. Police said medical staff described his injury “as a grazing wound.” He was treated at a hospital, released and arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.
According to the lawsuit, the Stockton teen spent the evening with his older cousin, earlier driving to a music video shoot in Oakland. The teen then fell asleep and woke up in the car alone and in an unfamiliar parking lot, to the sounds of loud noises. He tried to call his cousin but his cell phone was dead, so he got in the driver’s seat and tried to leave, the suit said.
Pointer said his client saw police had stopped another vehicle but did not hear any commands to stop. Next, he heard gunshots. The attorney said the teenager hid in the bushes out of fear.
According to Pointer, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office dropped the assault charge against the teenager. The June 1 shooting was the third involving a Hayward officer within two weeks.
“Hayward police have consistently been on my radar, a police department where they sic dogs on people, beat people, shoot people and it rarely catches the public’s attention,” Pointer said. “This is Exhibit A of a police department which seeks to vilify the victim and justify the shooting. The public should be very concerned.”
Hayward police referred questions to City Attorney Michael Lawson, who said the city had not been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment further.
The teenager’s mother, Jael Barnes, said her son has not been in trouble with the law before and “was not involved in looting or anything as such.”
“I feel like all they saw was a black face and just believed he did (a crime),” she said in June. “Not only does he now have these physical wounds, he has these mental wounds, as well, which will never go away.”