Daly City officials have asked California Attorney General Rob Bonta to launch an independent investigation into a deadly police shooting that authorities say unfolded during a struggle over what turned out to be a replica gun.
In a letter sent last week, City Attorney Rose Zimmerman requested an investigation into the April 7 police shooting of 44-year-old Roger Allen. Officials are asking for a parallel investigation to run concurrently with the criminal probe into the officers by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
“We are taking these important steps to provide the community with the most independent, impartial and transparent investigations possible,” Mayor Juslyn Manalo said in a statement Tuesday. “Building and maintaining trust is a foundational priority, and the City Council and I take this responsibility very seriously.”
The request comes after the police shooting drew widespread attention as the nation watched the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin unfold over the killing of George Floyd.
Authorities said Allen, a Black man from San Francisco, was in the passenger seat of a truck that had a damaged tire when police offered the driver assistance. At some point in the interaction, Allen allegedly struggled with one of the four officers on scene over a replica firearm and was shot once.
Allen’s family and supporters have cast doubt on the official version of events alleged by authorities in part because of the lack of video evidence in the case. Unlike most law enforcement agencies in San Mateo County, the Daly City Police Department had not equipped its officers with body cameras at the time of the shooting.
But the City Council hurried along plans to roll out the devices by October in the aftermath of the shooting, voting to approve the purchase of body-worn cameras and vehicle-mounted cameras earlier this month.
Daly City officials also initially declined to release the names of the officers involved but later changed course following outcry over the shooting. The officers are Lt. Michael Brennan and officers Rosa Brenes, Nicholas McCarthy and Cameron Newton. Authorities have not said which is the one who discharged the firearm.
Reached Tuesday, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he is “totally comfortable” with the attorney general stepping in. Wagstaffe said the request is the result of public interest in the case and not a reflection of any perceived inability by his office to independently investigate the shooting.
“I know that my office can conduct a fair and impartial and transparent investigation and we are doing so,” Wagstaffe said. “I feel very strongly having spoken to the mayor and the city attorney and a couple council members this is purely because of the interest that they have received at their council meetings.”
A spokesperson for the Allen family also welcomed the request for an independent investigation. But he said the the family doesn’t “have faith in Wagstaffe that his department can do a fair job, a good job, an impartial job.”
“We need more attention brought to the practices of Daly City,” said family spokesperson Shakeel Ali. “It’s hard for us to trust the city at all when it comes to the police.
The California Department of Justice issued a statement saying, “we’re aware of the request and we’ll follow up if there are any updates we can share.”