Melvin Black (June 19, 1963 – March 17, 1979) was a 15-year-old Oakland resident shot and killed by Oakland Police. The community was outraged, and mayor Lionel Wilson and the city council appointed John Burris to conduct an independent investigation.

The initial statement from OPD was that Black had pointed a gun at them, but eight bullet wounds in his back suggested he was running away which did not support the police narrative. Burris said: "The painstaking, five-month investigation that followed ... is something that I look back on as the crucible of my life." Burris' 700-page report concluding the shooting was unjustified was "not well received" by public officials, but was eventually used in successful civil suit by Black's mother. 1

“In the end, we were left with the troubling realization that the physical evidence did not match the officers’ statements. The events simply could not have happened the way they had been reported.” — John Burris in Blue vs. Black

Oakland High School students and the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade of Berkeley protesting the police shooting of 14-year old Melvin Black

Links and References

  1. Life as a Civil Rights Lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area by John Burris, Golden Gate University Law Review May 2017