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Video shows officer at Oakland warehouse months before fire

September 14, 2017 - 7:11 PM

OAKLAND, Calif. - A body camera video shows a police officer ordering the shutdown of a suspected illegal rave at an Oakland, California, warehouse nearly two years before a fire killed 36 partygoers in the ramshackle building.

The video of the arts collective known as the "Ghost Ship" was obtained and made public by the Bay Area News Group (http://bayareane.ws/2flAFPw) on Thursday.

"I will be talking to the city, and we'll be dealing with this place," the officer says on the video.

Late Thursday, the Police Department released a police report that the officer wrote, and said that it had been forwarded to the vice unit then to the department's Alcohol Beverage Action Team.

But, the department said, such infractions at the time were views as low-priority.

"Since the Ghost Ship tragedy, those policies have changed," the department said in a statement.

The video shows the officer banging on the door at 1:30 a.m. on March 1, 2015, and then telling a promoter there were noise complaints and reports that people were paying $25 to get in and drugs were being sold.

The deadly fire erupted on Dec. 2, 2016, during a dance party at the warehouse where some people were illegally living.

Since then, it has come to light that city and state officials fielded years of complaints about dangerous conditions, drugs, neglected children, trash, thefts and squabbles at the warehouse.

The March 2015 video is one of nine body camera recordings that the Bay Area News Group has been seeking from Oakland police.

In the video, the officer stood in the doorway talking to the party promoter, who refused him entry. Eventually people began leaving.

"If I come back, I'm gonna give you a fine. It's gonna be a very, very expensive fine," the officer said. "I'm still gonna make sure that the city knows about this place, and I'm gonna talk to the owner of this place as well. We'll figure out what you guys are doing."

In February, now-retired Assistant Chief David Downing ordered officers to report unlicensed cabarets and unpermitted special events to the department's Special Event Unit and to their supervisors, and to report "obvious hazardous conditions" for "referral to the appropriate city or county agency."

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Information from: East Bay Times, http://www.eastbaytimes.com

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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