Police draw weapons on Park Street following gun report

Police draw weapons on Park Street following gun report

Michele Ellson
Alameda police

Photo by Donna Eyestone.

Visitors to a crowded corner of Park Street said they got a scare Saturday when police drew their weapons on a man they said they believed to be armed with a gun, sending some scrambling for cover.

No arrests were made as a result of the incident, Alameda Police Sgt. Dave Pascoe said.

Dave Etayo said he was drinking coffee on a bench outside Peet’s Coffee and Tea at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday when police cruisers pulled up to the curb and drew their guns on an African American man after he hesitated when police asked him to get down on the ground, Etayo said. Etayo said he ducked behind a car, fearful he’d be hit if weapons were fired.

The Alamedan’s videographer, Donna Eyestone, was staffing a cookie booth near the corner of Park Street and Central Avenue with her daughter and other Girl Scouts when the cruisers pulled up, she said. Eyestone said she and another parent quickly escorted the frightened girls into a nearby restaurant; she stayed with the booth and captured the encounter in this photograph.

Alameda Police Sgt. Dave Pascoe said a trio of cruisers responded to a report of a dispute and that the caller said they were being threatened by a man with a gun. He said police drew their guns because the man was uncooperative when police arrived.

Police handcuffed the man but later released him after determining he was unarmed, Pascoe said. He said the man had been defending his father in a verbal dispute.

Pascoe said police don’t have any hard-and-fast rules dictating the circumstances under which they pull guns.

“It’s on a case by case basis,” Pascoe said.

Pascoe said some people tell police that a gun is present in an effort to get a faster response, though he did not say if that was the case Saturday.


Submitted by Pete (not verified) on Sun, Mar 2, 2014

Arguing in Alameda while black.

Submitted by Sylvia Gibson on Sun, Mar 2, 2014

Guns would not have been drawn if the man were white. I am a Caucasian woman and I understand that part of my subtle white privilege is that police guns will not be drawn on me or my son who looks white like me. Before we can erase racism, we have to see it.

Submitted by D (not verified) on Sun, Mar 2, 2014

So what if he was armed? He could have had a valid concealed weapons permit. That's no reason for police to draw their weapons.

Submitted by Grand Encinal (not verified) on Sun, Mar 2, 2014

Big assumptions all around

Submitted by David (not verified) on Sun, Mar 2, 2014

I think The Daily Show figured this out last month...


Submitted by Serge Wilson (not verified) on Sun, Mar 2, 2014

Calling this action racist is ignorant and unhelpful. If someone is reported to have a gun and then refuses to comply with directions you have a very dangerous situation. Please note that the police in this case did not 'rough up' the suspect, didn't SHOOT him, and didn't end up arresting him after some investigation. The APD did exactly what they were supposed to do in order to protect the public, themselves, and the reported suspect.

Submitted by Steve Gerstle on Mon, Mar 3, 2014

What most concerns me is that:
"Pascoe said police don’t have any hard-and-fast rules dictating the circumstances under which they pull guns.
'It’s on a case by case basis,' Pascoe said."

If the APD doesn't have a policy as to when you pull a gun, then what do their policies cover? This doesn't seem very professional. This could have ended very badly and we would now be discussing more than lack of policy. Think Raymond Zack 2.0. The Police Chief needs to make policy development a priority. Tomorrow could bring yet another incident like this one.

Submitted by David (not verified) on Mon, Mar 3, 2014

Serge - I agree with you. APD had reports of a man with a gun, so they had to act and take into consideration that he may indeed have had a gun.

The real unanswered question is what was going through the mind of the person who reported him. Was it falsely reported that he had a weapon? If so, was it deliberately falsely reported? Did the reporting party assume he had a gun, because he was black? Many questions, and we don't have the information to answer them. Not very much information coming out on this incident at all.

I'm afraid that the man may have been non-cooperative because he didn't have a gun, didn't know that people reported to police that they thought he had a gun, and didn't think he had done anything worthy of police attention. He may have simply been befuddled and confused. Again, not enough information has been forthcoming to tell.

Submitted by Joe LoParo (not verified) on Mon, Mar 10, 2014

The police were responding to a call that already reported that they were threatened by a man with a gun, when they respond there first action is to protect themselves and the innocent people around them. However this happens has to be left unto the police officers discretion. Had the man responded in a cooperative way with there directives, maybe it had been different. You cannot make a explicit set of rules regarding the pulling of your weapon. I am certain that they will go back and question the person that reported the instance and quite possibly they escalated the situation to what all saw happen, or they subject did threaten that he had a gun not having one just to intimidate. But you have to error on the side of caution when responding. No two situations are possibly the same. with different individuals involved, emotions, emotional reactions and on and on. The discretion has to be left to the responding officers. So much is blamed on our police these days, but if you read statistics more police officers have been killed in the line of duty in 5 of the last 10 years then ever before. No police officer wakes up in the morning thinking I wanna draw my weapon and shoot someone today. As a matter of fact I assure you they wake up hoping they can kiss there family good bye and tell them they love them and return home from a days work for dinner with their loved ones. It appears they acted professional and cautious and upon a search and questioning of the subject they released him.