Yesterday at civil rights attorney John Burris' office in Oakland, attorney Adante Pointer, speaking for Kenneth Harding's family, questioned the police account of the shooting death of Harding, who was killed during a foot chase with officers in the Bayview on July 16. Harding's mother, Denika Chatman, 38, from Seattle, also spoke, defending her son's character and asking the public for donations. Other Harding relatives from both the Bay Area and Seattle were also present.
Pointer said he thought police accounts of the incident had changed too many times for the department to be credible. He didn't cite specific developments, but initially police thought they might have recovered Harding's gun from the scene, only to later announce it wasn't the right caliber. And last week, the medical examiner said the bullet lodged in Harding's head was the wrong caliber to have been fired from an officer's gun, leading police to assert that Harding may have shot himself with his own (still unrecovered) weapon.
Here are the main points from the press conference:
- Pointer said his office had talked to over five eyewitness, and "more than one" had refuted the police's version of what happened, saying they never saw Harding with a gun. He asked for other witnesses to come forward, and called on police to give Harding's family access to all evidence and investigatory reports for review.
- Pointer refuted the idea that Harding was in the Bay Area on the run from police. Chatman, Harding's mother, said Harding was in San Francisco to see his brother's record producer to discuss a music career. She said he'd been to the Bay Area many times to visit friends and family.
- Neither one would respond to questions about any criminal activity on Harding's part, saying it was irrelevant to how he died. Harding was on parole for being a pimp to an underage girl, and was wanted for questioning in connection to the shooting death in Seattle of a 19-year-old girl.
Yesterday, it was reported that the SFPD said it had received an APB for Harding's brother,
in connection with the same shooting.Neither Chatman nor Pointer would respond to questions about this report. (Update Jul 27: Harding's brother is a suspect in the murder of a 50-year-old man in Seattle last Saturday.)
- Pointer said there was a "concerted attack" on Harding's character and reputation. Chatman called Harding "God-fearing," "caring," and "loving." She said Harding was due to go to school in the fall at Seattle Central Community College.
- Pointer asked for donations from the public in order to transport Harding's body back to Seattle and to pay for his funeral.
Audio and partial, edited transcripts: