Family, friends and community members gathered Tuesday morning at the West Oakland BART station to protest the killing of 28-year-old Sahleem Tindle, who was allegedly unarmed and had his hands up, when he was shot and killed by a BART police officer.
Protesters are demanding the public release of the video of the Jan. 3 shooting, and that transit officer Joseph Mateu be held accountable for shooting Tindle. The Oakland Police Department, which is involved in the investigation, showed the video last week to Tindle’s family and their lawyer, but are refusing to release the video to the public while the investigation is continuing.
“They murdered my son. Joseph Mateu, the BART police, murdered my son, shot him in the back with his arms up, unarmed,” said Sahleem Tindle’s mother Yolanda Tindle, speaking at the rally.
“Our children are our irreplaceable treasure,” she said. “We will fight for them. I know you will fight for yours. Tooth and nail you will fight for yours. Tooth and nail I’m going to fight for mine.
“I have known many mothers in the same state of mind I’m in. I feel the pain, and the pain is crushing. We love our children, like you love yours.”
Civil rights attorney John Burris, who represents the family in a civil lawsuit, said the video footage shows Tindle was standing with his hands up, unarmed and with his back to the officer, when Officer Mateu shot him three times.
The incident started when Tindle and another man began fighting across the street from the BART station, according to Burris. The two men were tussling and wrestling with each other when the officer ran up.
The video showed the officer saying, “Show me you’re your hands, show me your hands,” Burris said.
“Within moments,” Mateu shot Tindle in the back three times,” said Burris. At the time of the shooting, the officer could not have seen a weapon of any kind, said Burris.
According to an official statement, Tindle ignored the command to drop a handgun, which led to Mateu firing his weapon.
A handgun was discovered at the scene, Burris said, but the officer had no way of knowing about the gun when he shot Tindle.
According to a legal claim filed this week against BART, Tindle had shot the other man in the leg before he was killed.
“Regardless of what happened before, at the time he shot and killed this young man, he did not have sufficient evidence to justify it,” Burris said. “It should be prosecuted. As to what level of
prosecution it is, that’s for the DA, but I certainly would start with murder.”
According to an OPD statement on the shooting, released on Jan. 4:
“The officer observed two males in a struggle with each other; one of the men possessed a handgun. After several commands were given, the officer discharged his firearm striking the man who was in possession of the handgun; he later succumbed to his injuries. Investigators are attempting to clarify how the other man, who was listed in stable condition and has since been released from the hospital, sustained his injuries.”
Tindle had two children, an 8-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, according to his mother.