Oakland School Police Officer Settles Lawsuit Over Shooting

The officer will receive a $550,000 payout and a contribution towards his pension.

A police sergeant who alleged he was pressured by the Oakland Unified School District to lie about an incident in which his partner shot and killed a man outside of a school dance, has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit.

According to a report by the SFGate, Sgt. Jonathan Bellusa, 39, says that his partner, Sgt. Barhin Bhatt, fatally shot 20-year-old Raheim Brown in 2011 outside of Skyline High School, after Brown was already incapacitated and no longer posed a threat to the officer. Bellusa claims the school district retaliated after he refused to lie about the incident.

Bhatt told authorities that he shot and killed Brown after Brown tried to stab him with a screwdriver. Brown was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car at the time. Bhatt was cleared of any wrongdoing by Alameda County prosecutors.

Bellusa alleges the district and its attorney’s pressured him to conform his story to that of Bhatt’s account or face perjury charges. Pending final approval by the Oakland school board, the district will pay Bellusa a $550,000 settlement, at which point Bellusa will retire. The district has also agreed to contribute toward Bellusa’s pension but says the decision to settle is not an admission of wrongdoing. It’s simply the best option for the district financially and operationally.

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