Before the onset of the internet and social media, and to some degree now, records concerning police officers who kill suspect while in the line of duty are scarce. Reported reasons for the lack of information include: out dated computer systems, limited staff to manage the work load, and maintaining privacy. OPD justifies secrecy by stating it's necessary to protect police officers. However with social media and the Internet, information about police brutality is now more visible and worse than expected.
In the case of fourteen year-old Melvin Black who was murdered by two Oakland police officers is 1979, little information is available to the public.
KALW reported that an independent investigation found the shooting was not justified. But the city attorney, the police department, the US Attorney’s Office, and the District Attorney’s Office all said it was justified. Oakland residents were outraged.
According to John Burris, also known as Oakland’s Johnnie Cochran, “The police have an abiding interest in maintaining a perspective that has nothing to do with the facts. They will do whatever to create the impression that what they did was right.”
The lack of information about Melvin Black, his family and the circumstances of his murder maintain a standard of secrecy and a precedence that the Oakland police department is above the law.