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Friends Say Oakland Police Denied Aid to Shooting Victim By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday April 22, 2005

The 19-year-old African-American shooting victim in a sideshow-vicinity East Oakland robbery attempt last weekend has charged that Oakland Police officers failed to search for him while he lay bleeding from two gunshot wounds and hiding from his attackers, and prevented friends from searching for him as well. 

The friends eventually found the victim and drove him to Children’s Hospital in their own car for emergency treatment, passing both Highland and Alta Bates Hospitals because they did not know how to reach them from the 880 freeway. 

According to the friends, Oakland police threatened to have their car towed if they did not vacate the area, one of them telling the friends, “I don’t care; you shouldn’t have been at a sideshow” when they told the police that they were searching for someone who had been shot. 

The incident occurred in the early morning hours last Sunday at an all-night gas station near the intersection of 90th Avenue and Bancroft, during what Oakland Police have described as nearby “sideshow” activities. 

The term “sideshow” has no specific definition by police or the news media, but is most often used in Oakland to describe street or parking lot congregations of young African-Americans or Latinos in cars. The events often involve intricate car maneuvers, including one called “spinning donuts,” in which drivers spin their cars in a circle, leaving black, donut-shaped tire tracks in the street. The gatherings are considered illegal, and Oakland police have spent the last several years trying to shut them down. 

Anthony Davenport of Emeryville, who attended Berkeley High School, was shot in his wrist and his side and was hit on his head with a pistol. Although Davenport said he is “worried about how my arm will recover,” none of his injuries were life-threatening, and he is at home recovering from a shattered bone in his wrist. He was initially treated at Children’s Hospital, and later transported to Highland Hospital by ambulance. Davenport said that Oakland police took a statement from him at Children’s Hospital concerning the shooting and the abortive robbery. 

Davenport said that he and his friends had gone to the all-night store to buy some food before going home, but one of his companions said they had come out to the area to “go to the sideshow.” 

Davenport lives in Emeryville with an aunt, Kelly Conlin, an advertising representative at the Berkeley Daily Planet. She said that she has had custody of Conlin “off and on” for several years. 

Conlin said that while Davenport “shouldn’t have been at a sideshow, it doesn’t mean that he should get shot and not get help. I’m horrified by what happened, and I’m scared of my children growing up. It’s my job to reprimand my kids. It’s the police’s job to be public servants. But in this case, they weren’t serving the public.” 

Oakland police confirmed the robbery attempt, the shooting, and the transportation to Children’s Hospital by friends. But in an e-mailed statement, Oakland Police Information Officer Danielle Ashford said that “without the names of the officers, I have no way of confirming whether or not those things were said. I can tell you, however, that it is the duty of every Oakland police officer to provide fair, courteous, and professional service at all times.” 

Davenport said that he and a companion were approached by two gunmen while sitting in their car on 90th Avenue near the gas station parking lot. At the time, the lot was filled with cars and people, and some drivers were in the street doing donuts. Davenport said one of the gunmen hit him in the head with the pistol when Davenport tried to escape, and then fired several shots at him as he ran away. It is not clear whether the same bullet that hit Davenport’s wrist also went through his side. A second man was shot during the leg in the parking lot at the same time, possibly during the same burst of gunfire. 

Davenport said he ran across Bancroft with at least one of the gunmen in pursuit, and hid between houses along 89th Avenue a couple of blocks away. There he discovered that he had been shot in the arm. He said he stemmed the bleeding by wrapping his shirt around the wound while he was hiding. 

One of Davenport’s companions, 19-year-old former Emery High student Wilkens Owens, said he was at the parking lot with Davenport, but was not near the car at the time of the shooting. “We heard bam-bam-bam, and everybody cleared out pretty fast,” Owens said. Neither Owens nor two other companions, in fact, saw the shooting or the following chase. When they returned to the car and couldn’t find Davenport, however, Owens said that they called Davenport on his cellphone and found out what had happened. “But our cellphone went dead before he told us where he was,” Owens said, “so we drove around looking for him. We knew he was someplace near.” 

Oakland police officers had arrived on the scene, meanwhile, and many began clearing cars away from the area. 

Owens said that during their frantic search, they were pulled over by two Oakland Police Department patrol cars. Owens said that the officers ordered them out of the area, even after they repeatedly insisted that they were searching for a friend who had been shot. Owens could not identify the officers other than two say that two were male and one was female. 

Owens said that he and his friends finally left the area and drove to a pay phone at 85th Avenue and International Boulevard, some 15 blocks away. Using a cellphone from a passerby they called Davenport. They doubled back to where Davenport was hiding and rushed him to the hospital. Owens said they ended up at Children’s Hospital while looking for Alta Bates after getting off the 51st Street exit from Highway 24. 

A second companion, who asked not to be identified, confirmed both Davenport’s account of the robbery attempt and Owens’ account of the search for Davenport and the incident with the police officers. The second companion, who said he was driving the search car, said that the police officers asked him for his license during what he described as a heated argument over remaining in the area to search for Davenport. The second companion described one of the police cars as a black “task force” car. 

“It was messed up,” the second companion said, describing the police attitude. “They didn’t even care that Anthony was shot.” 

Davenport’s aunt, Kelly Conlin, said that the family has not yet decided what further steps they make take concerning Oakland police action in the matter. Conlin also said the family presently had no information on whether the delay in getting Davenport to the hospital, or the initial treatment at Children’s Hospital, will have any effect on his recovery.