If 2022 seemed like another rough year for the reputation of law enforcement nationally, think only of what the East Bay witnessed: One sheriff’s deputy in Alameda County was accused of an execution-style murder after another deputy in Contra Costa County became the first to be sentenced for a felony conviction.
There were also a sweeping investigation into multiple police officers with the Antioch and Pittsburg police departments concerning possible civil rights violations and other alleged crimes of “moral turpitude.”
Those stories underlined the East Bay’s most eye-grabbing public safety events over the past 12 months. Here were some of the biggest:
A shocking murder in Dublin
Former Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Dep. Devin Williams Jr., 24, is accused of breaking into a Dublin house on Sept. 7 and fatally shooting 57-year-old Benison Tran and his 42-year-old wife, Maria Tran, in the back of the head and neck.
Authorities believe that Williams had been in a romantic relationship with Maria Tran, and that he went to her house after completing a work shift at the Santa Rita Jail. The California Highway Patrol took Williams into custody in Coalinga after he fled to central California. He is awaiting trial.
A sheriff’s deputy sentenced
In March, ex-Contra Costa County sheriff’s Dep. Andrew Hall was sentenced to six years in prison for fatally shooting a mentally ill man during a slow-speed police chase in 2018. The previous year, Hall had become the first law enforcement officer in the county ever convicted in an on-duty police shooting after jurors found him guilty of assault with a firearm and a gun enhancement in the death of 33-year-old Fremont resident Laudemer Arboleda.
Hall did avoid conviction on a more serious manslaughter charge, and Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton announced in October that her office would not seek charges against Hall for shooting to death Danville homeless man Tyrell Wilson in 2021.
Bad guys with badges?
The investigation into police officers in Pittsburg and Antioch involved a federal grand jury that convened to consider whether indictments should be handed down to the involved officers.
Multiple sources told this publication that Antioch police Officers Morteza Amiri — whose police dog had bitten at least 22 people since 2019 — and Eric Rombough were two of the 11 officers under federal investigation. The group included eight officers from Antioch and three from Pittsburg, those sources said. The eight Antioch officers represent 15% of that department’s police force.
Terror on campus
An Oakland Unified School District carpenter died 17 days after he and five others were hit by gunfire Sept. 28 at Rudsdale High School, one school among a cluster of them at the King Estates education complex in the 8200 block of Fontaine Street. More than 600 students are enrolled in the schools, according to district records.
The two suspected shooters have not been arrested.
Tragedy at an Airbnb
Berkeley High School brothers Jazy Sotelo Garcia, 17, and Angel Sotelo Garcia, 15, died in a flurry of gunfire Oct. 1 at a North Oakland home that had been rented short-term through Airbnb. At least 30 people were attending a party that had been going for two to three hours when three people arrived and two started shooting, authorities said. Police have not announced an arrest in the case. The two boys were the oldest of six siblings.
A long search and sad ending
The eastern Contra Costa County city of Oakley and its residents were gripped and shaken by the disappearance of 24-year-old resident Alexis Gabe, the subsequent search for her, and the discovery of her remains in November. The saga began when Gabe went missing after last being seen at her ex-boyfriend’s house in Antioch on Jan. 26. The ex-boyfriend, identified as Marshall Curtis Jones III, was killed June 1 by law enforcement officials in Washington state, who said he charged at them with a knife as they moved in to make an arrest.
Justice for Jasper?
More than a year after gunfire on Interstate 880 ended the life of 23-month-old Jasper Wu, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office charged three alleged San Francisco gang members with murder, shooting at an inhabited or occupied vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon. The shooting happened Nov. 6, 2021, when Wu was riding in a car seat with family members on southbound I-880 near Filbert Street. The three continue to await trial.