OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) —
Two men charged with murder in the death of an Oakland police officer who was shot while answering a burglary report at a marijuana business appeared in court Thursday but didn’t enter pleas.
Meanwhile, a fourth man was arrested in connection with last week’s burglary.
Officer Tuan Le, 36, was shot in the head Dec. 29 and died at a hospital. He was in plainclothes and driving an unmarked police truck when he and other officers answered a report of a burglary in progress at a cannabis grow house near Jack London Square, where marijuana plants had been stolen in at least three other burglaries that night, according to court documents released Thursday.
Mark Sanders, 27, of Tracy, and Allen Starr Brown, 28, of Chico, appeared in an Alameda County courtroom but waived their arraignments. The murder charges carry special allegations that could deny the men a chance at parole if they are convicted and given life sentences.
Sanders stood with his back to the courtroom, which was filled with dozens of Oakland police officers showing support for Le and his family, the Bay Area News Group reported.
After the hearing, defense attorney Annie Beles urged people to resist rushing to judgment, the news outlet said.
“I want to remind everyone that he is presumed innocent,” said Beles, who also expressed her “deepest condolences to the family and friends of the fallen officer for his tragic death.”
A third man, Sebron Ray Russell, 30, also waived arraignment. He is charged with taking part in the burglary.
All three are due back in court on Jan. 18 to enter pleas.
A fourth man, Marquise Cooper, 34, was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of burglary after cellphone data placed him at the scene, the Bay Area News Group reported.
He remained jailed and hadn’t been criminally charged as of Thursday evening. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Le was shot after arriving officers saw several people leaving the marijuana business. Prosecutors allege that Sanders opened fire from a car that Brown was driving.
Officers took their wounded colleague to the hospital, where he died about four hours later.
Le is the 54th Oakland police officer to die in the line of duty and the first killed in nearly 15 years.
County District Attorney Pamela Price and interim Police Chief Darren Allison announced the arrests and charging of Sanders and Russell at a news conference Wednesday night.
Price said she had told Le’s wife and mother about the charges and assured them that her office “will do everything within the confines of our legal power to make sure … that the man we believe shot and killed officer Le will serve the rest of his life in prison.”
Sanders, Russell and Cooper have criminal records. They pleaded no contest in 2022 to burglarizing a Pittsburg home where marijuana was being grown and received 120-day jail terms, the Bay Area News Group reported.
In addition, the media outlet said Russell was charged with robbery and burglary stemming from a 2019 break-in at an Oakland marijuana business but the case was dismissed six weeks ago for lack of evidence.
Sanders also pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for a 2014 shooting that took place when he was 17 that killed an 18-year-old man, the news group said.
Brown and Russell were arrested over the weekend and Sanders was arrested Tuesday in Livermore.
At the news conference, authorities said Le’s handcuffs were used to arrest Sanders.
The Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Two men charged with murder in the death of an Oakland police officer who was shot while answering a burglary report at a marijuana business appeared in court Thursday but didn’t enter pleas. Read More