Fallen Oakland Police Officers Remembered
Monday, March 30, 2009
Category: News > City > Crime
Four police officers, including a UC Berkeley alumnus, were fatally shot in Oakland on March 21 by a gunman, who was also killed.
At about 1:08 p.m., Oakland police Sgt. Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege stopped a vehicle on the 7400 block of MacArthur Boulevard, said Oakland Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan at a press conference.
The driver, identified as Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon, 26, allegedly shot both officers and fled the scene.
Mixon had been previously convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and had an arrest warrant for parole violation, according to Jordan.
About two hours later, officers responding to a tip surrounded a nearby apartment building.
Oakland SWAT team Sgt. Daniel Sakai and Sgt. Ervin Romans entered the apartment and were allegedly shot by Mixon, who was killed by return fire, Jordan said. A fifth officer was grazed and suffered minor injuries.
All four officers were transported to Highland Hospital. Dunakin, 40, Sakai, 35, and Romans, 43, died the day of the shooting.
Hege, 41, the son of UC Berkeley alumni, was declared brain dead on March 22 and was taken off life support the following day, said Tamra Hege, his mother.
Sakai graduated from UC Berkeley in 1995 with a degree in forestry. He was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity, said Paul Schroeder, who was also a member at the time.
"(Sakai) always had an ear-to-ear smile but at the same time was really smart," he said. "He's one of the greatest people I've ever known, and I'm not just saying that because he's dead."
Sakai was president of the fraternity in his senior year and remained active after graduating, said Oren Levy, a member who knew him for 18 years.
Brian Thomas, Alpha Sigma Phi's current president, said Sakai escorted students after dark as a campus community service officer.
The fraternity held a memorial for Sakai at its house on Thursday that brought about 75 friends and officers from around the nation, Levy said.
Sakai had values that define an ideal police officer, he said, adding that people sought to emulate him.
"He really cared about people," Levy said. "He had a very high sense of honor and integrity. Those are the kind of things you want your police officer to have."
Sakai is survived by his wife, who is a UCPD officer, and their 4-year-old daughter.
Thomas said the fraternity is now focusing on assisting Sakai's family.
"It just goes to show that sometimes the best people are taken from us," Thomas said. "But they leave behind a legacy of good morals and good deeds, and you just have to pick up where they left off and fight for what they were fighting for."
Funeral and memorial services were held for the four officers at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Friday. Among the 20,000 people who attended were Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, according to Oakland city spokesperson Karen Boyd.
Supporters of Mixon from the Uhuru Movement organized a march and vigil for him on Thursday. Statements on the group's Web site argued that Oakland police implemented an "incessant martial law" which came to a "boiling point."
"Knowing the history of how the police treat Africans, Lovelle Mixon felt he had to defend himself in the face of the oppressive police state," the group said in the statements. "And he did so, honorably."
But the organization and Oakland religious leaders, like Bishop James E. Watkins of Jack London Square Chapel, both said that the loss of any life is regrettable.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums expressed similar sentiments of sorrow at a press conference the night of the shooting.
"These (officers) I'm sure left their homes with great expectations of returning," he said. "But they did not."
Zach A. Williams of The Daily
Californian contributed to this report.
Contact Tomer Ovadia at [email protected]
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