City Hires Independent Investigator

City Hires Independent Investigator

Inquiry set to investigate arrest of dancing resident

The City of Alameda has hired attorney Alfonso Estrada to conduct an independent investigation of the May 23 arrest of Mali Watkins for allegedly resisting, delaying or obstructing police officers. Witnesses report that Watkins was dancing and exercising in front of his own house when police arrived and arrested him. Watkins was cited and released by officers.

The incident led the media and locals to question the use of excessive action by Alameda police officers and resulted in protests in Alameda, concurrent with the national Black Lives Matter protests.

Estrada has significant experience in conducting outside independent administrative investigations pertaining to police officer activities, which include use-of-force incidents. He has conducted investigations for the Beverly Hills police and fire deparments; Anaheim, Alhambra and Colton police departments; and Loma Linda and Fresno fire departments.

Estrada is a law partner with Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo. His interest in justice and fairness reaches back to his days attending UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, where he worked as an unpaid intern for Pretrial Services at the courthouse in downtown Oakland. In his previous experience as a prosecutor, Estrada worked in the criminal courts in Los Angeles. 

The two principal responding officers, Harris Smiler and Anthony Buck, have been assigned to administrative leave for the duration of the investigation. The investigation, and any report generated from the investigation, remain confidential by California State law.