Dear Walnut Creek Mayor Haskew; Mayor Pro Tem Wilk; City Council Members Francois, Silva, and Wedel; City Manager Dan Buckshi; Communications Manager Betsy Burkhart; and Acting Police Chief Jay Hill:
On June 2, 2019, Miles Hall was killed by Walnut Creek police, less than a block from his home while in the midst of a mental health crisis. Since his death, your City Council meetings have been filled by hundreds of shocked, horrified, and grieving members of your Walnut Creek community, the faith community, families living with mental health challenges, community members of color, and people from all over the Bay Area - all asking for justice for Miles Hall and for healing for the community. Their message to you has been crystal clear: Miles Hall was a victim, not a criminal.
The East Bay Times said on September 18, 2020: “Police said Hall ran at officers with a crowbar and had earlier threatened his own relatives. But video released by police seems to show that Hall was not running directly at police and was not threatening them with the metal bar....(and) the video indicates the fatal shooting could and should have been avoided.” Because the responding officers were familiar with Miles’s history and had full knowledge he was experiencing a mental health crisis, your officers should have approached him with compassion and a desire to help him.
In the year and more since Miles’ death, we have been stunned by your lack of any acknowledgement that Walnut Creek could make changes to prevent a similar tragedy. We assumed your unresponsiveness was tied to what you felt was your obligation to remain silent until the civil suit was resolved; we were looking forward to the end of the suit as an opportunity for you to lead our community in healing and making needed change. Your recent response statements to the September 18th settlement belied our assumptions.
In your response, you chose to continue your skewed narrative which criminalizes Miles and stigmatizes those with mental illness as being violent. You released this statement without notifying or communicating to the Hall family, and before they could address the community in their own way. Your unsympathetic posturing leaves other families in Walnut Creek who have loved ones living with a mental illness in fear of using law enforcement when it may be needed. This hesitation is especially true for BIPOC residents of Walnut Creek. What purpose did your release serve other than a negative one?
True leaders would have seized the opportunity for a coming together of the City and the community to address the trauma of Miles' death and to establish a basis for trust moving forward. Not only was this a teachable moment for mental illness, it was an opportunity to heal.
We will continue to put our best efforts into bringing positive change to the community to prevent another tragedy.
We hope that you have the courage to join us.
Friends of Scott Alexis and Taun Hall (FOSATH)
In community with:
Gigi R. Crowder, Executive Director
NAMI Contra Costa County
Joanne Scott & Elsie Mills
Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Contra Costa County
Women's March Contra Costa WomensMarchContraCosta.org
Diablo Valley Democratic Club Board dvdems.org
Indivisible Central Contra Costa County
Indivisible ReSisters Walnut Creek www.facebook.com/groups/indivisibleresisterswc/
Defund Concord PD DefundConcordPD.org
San Ramon Valley Democratic Club Board
Concord Communities Alliance https://ccaconcord.org/
Patty Mitchell Steering Committee - Larkey Park Neighbors United https://www.larkeyparkneighborsunited.com/
Together We Will Contra Costa
Los Lomas Reform NOW
On Track Learning