Tensions were high as Nathaniel Freeman was arraigned on murder charges today (Friday) for the shooting death of Oakland Parks and Recreation employee Maceo Smith one block south of the University of California, Berkeley campus Tuesday afternoon.
Freeman, 19, also was arraigned on a charge of assault with a firearm for allegedly shooting a second man, Marcus Mosley, who was Smith’s former brother-in-law, in the incident on the sidewalk in front of the Pacific Film Archive on Durant Avenue just east of Bowditch Street about 3:50 p.m. Tuesday.
Smith’s father thought that Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom of Judge Beverly Daniels-Greenberg were disrespectful to people who were sitting in the courtroom and asked to talk to a supervisor.
A short time later prosecutor Mark McCannon talked to Smith’s father and about 10 other friends and relatives of Smith to try to calm them down.
McCannon told the group that it was good that they came to today’s hearing and court officials didn’t want to kick them out of court but they had to make sure that they weren’t disruptive.
Just before McCannon talked to the group, two of Smith’s friends approached two reporters in the hallway outside the courtroom and said they didn’t like the way Smith’s death was reported and told the reporters that they should leave the courthouse.
But Smith’s friends didn’t say what they thought should be corrected in the news coverage about the shooting incident, which occurred at the same time as graduation ceremonies for UC Berkeley seniors.
Daniels-Greenberg ordered that Freeman, who was dressed in a white jail jumpsuit, be held without bail. She also ordered Freeman not to have any contact with Mosley, either directly or indirectly through third parties or through phone calls, e-mails or text messages.
Several of Smith’s family members cried when the judge read aloud the allegation that Freeman is accused of murdering Smith.
An attorney who made a special appearance for Freeman told Daniels-Greenberg that his family hasn’t yet decided if they will retain her.
Freeman is scheduled to return to court on May 30 to finalize his legal representation and possibly enter a plea. Freeman turned himself in at the Berkeley police station at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, accompanied by the same lawyer who appeared with him today. However, Freeman declined to be interviewed about the shooting incident.
Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said the shooting incident occurred after Freeman ran into Mosley on Durant Avenue and the two men rekindled a dispute that started with a confrontation at a party a week earlier.
Kusmiss said Mosley eventually called Smith, a 33-year-old Berkeley man who’s the father of three children, to help him out in his argument with Freeman.
She said the argument continued after Smith arrived and Freeman pulled out a gun at the southwest corner of Durant Avenue and Bowditch Street and shot both Smith and Mosley.
According to Kusmiss, after Smith was shot he staggered across both Durant Avenue and Bowditch Street and collapsed in a parking lot at 2542 Durant Ave. The lot is next to the well-known Top Dog hot dog stand at 2534 Durant Ave. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. Kusmiss said Mosley got into his silver Cadillac, abandoned Smith and drove himself to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he was treated for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds and released.
She said Freeman fled the scene on foot. No weapons have been recovered, Kusmiss said.
Berkeley police say that Smith was well-known to them because he frequently was in trouble with the law over the years. Smith had a lengthy arrest record, including for illegal gun and drug charges, but he never was convicted of a felony.
Oakland officials said Smith wouldn’t have been able to get his job as a part-time parks maintenance worker if he’d had a felony conviction.