Family of man killed by Hayward police demands independent investigation

The family of a man who was shot and killed by Hayward police last year pressured the Hayward City Council at their meeting Tuesday to appoint an independent investigator and remove the two officers from patrol duties until that investigation is complete.

“One of the worst things about having a loved one taken from you by a police officer is there’s no justice, and we don’t get the respect we deserve,” Karla Gonsalez, the mother of Agustin “Augie” Gonsalez, said at the meeting. “Instead we get treated like the enemy.”

Agustin Gonsalez was shot and killed by Officers Phillip Wooley and Michael Clark on Nov. 15. He was allegedly holding a razor blade after a confrontation with his ex-girlfriend’s neighbor outside her home in the 4600 block of O’Neil Avenue.

Hayward police released the officers’ body camera video along with surveillance video from outside the apartment complex before officers arrived, showing Gonsalez and the neighbor chasing each other through the streets. In calls to dispatch, the neighbor said Gonsalez had a knife, but only a small razor blade was found under his body after he was shot.

The officers shot Gonsalez about seven seconds after they arrived.

“Why are Wooley and Clark still on the streets?” Gonsalez’ cousin, Megan Canto, said at Tuesday’s meeting. “They murdered a man who had his hands in front of him in seconds.”

A week after the video was released, the family sued, represented by civil rights attorney John Burris. “Mr. Gonsalez threatened no one when [the officers] shot him, had his hands down in front of his waist, and somehow [the officers], apparently relying on inaccurate information called into 911 in opposition to their own eyes, ordered Mr. Gonsalez to ‘drop the knife,’” the suit states.

According to the suit, the officers handcuffed Gonsalez after the shooting and did not provide medical care.

Gonsalez was a father of a son, 10, and a daughter, 9. He worked long hours at the Tesla factory in Fremont and commuted more than an hour each way from Lathrop, where he lived with his parents. The family has roots in Hayward, where Gonsalez’s grandfather was a reserve police officer.

“We are not police haters,” said Gonsalez’s aunt, Lourdes Garcia. “His grandfather worked for the community, Hayward PD. But we will keep coming back if we don’t get accountability for these officers.”

Many members of Gonsalez’s family and their supporters, who packed the council chambers, said they were not confident that Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley could conduct an impartial investigation, citing campaign donations from local police unions.

After hearing from the family for more than an hour, Mayor Barbara Halliday offered condolences and pleaded for patience.

“I wish there was more we could do to change what happened on that day in November. But all we can do is try our best to throughly investigate and try to understand what happened that evening,” Halliday said. “We all want justice, justice can take some time.”

But Halliday eventually lost the crowd, who jeered and chanted as she suggested the officers’ side of the story had not been heard.

“The police officers involved, you have not heard their story, we have not heard their story,” Halliday said. “We are a city of laws and we will follow a legal process in this case. We will get to the bottom of what happened, we will make that public, but more than that we will learn from that.”

The shouting was so loud she called a recess.