OAKLAND, California (Reuters) – A man shot and wounded by an Oakland police officer last weekend was a cousin of Oscar Grant, whose shooting death by a Bay Area transit officer sparked violent demonstrations in 2010, his attorney said on Wednesday.
The officer shot Tony Jones, 24, in the back as he fled from a police car at about 11:45 p.m. on Sunday, according to Jones’ attorney, Waukeen McCoy.
“He made a mistake running, but that didn’t give them the right to shoot him in the back,” McCoy said. Jones is the son of Oscar Grant’s aunt, he added.
Oakland police have said that officers shot at Jones when he ran from them carrying a firearm after leaving a car they believed was involved in a robbery.
An Oakland police spokeswoman could not be reached for further comment on Wednesday.
Grant’s death after being shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer Joseph Mehserle on New Year’s Day in 2009 has since become a rallying point for anti-police demonstrations in Oakland.
Mehserle, who is white, shot Grant, who was black, in the back as Grant lay on the ground. Mehserle said later he confused his service revolver for his Taser.
Protesters said the case was an example of police brutality and racism by police. Demonstrations turned violent after a jury convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter instead of murder the case on July 8, 2010.
The latest incident led protesters to plan a Wednesday night rally in front of Oakland City Hall at Frank Ogawa Plaza, the site of an Occupy Oakland anti-Wall Street camp which police cleared out twice in the fall of 2011, leading to more clashes.
Protesters refer to the site as Oscar Grant Plaza.
“When a young man of 24 years of age is shot in my city it’s important that I be present,” OccupySF organizer Kat Hoban said.
McCoy characterized the Jones case police brutality, saying an unidentified woman was giving Jones a ride from his mother’s house to his girlfriend’s house when police stopped the vehicle because they suspected it of being used in another crime.
Jones, an unemployed Oakland resident, got out of the vehicle, and police allowed the vehicle to leave the scene but followed Jones in a patrol car, McCoy said.
“He started running because it got to close to him,” said McCoy. When Jones ran, a police officer shot him, said McCoy.
McCoy said Jones is now being treated at Highland Hospital in Oakland, and he did not yet know Jones’s prognosis.
McCoy said Jones was unarmed during the incident.
He said Jones has a criminal record but that he did not know the details. The attorney said he would pursue a legal complaint against the city.
“If they are not presented with an immediate threat of force, they are not supposed to use their weapons,” he said.
John Burris, a lawyer for Oscar Grant’s family, confirmed the relationship between Jones and Grant, but said it was unclear if the two men knew each other.
“The only parallel is that he was shot by a police officer and the use of deadly force by a police officer is of great concern in the African American community,” Burris said.
(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Bohan)
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