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Shot to Death for Sleeping, Man’s Son Says

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Oakland police shot a man to death after finding him sleeping in his car with a gun on the seat, his family claims in Federal Court.

Police shot Demouria Hogg to death on the morning of June 6, 2015 after firefighters found him "unconscious inside of his car" by a freeway off-ramp, his son's guardian claims in the April 2 lawsuit.

Oakland firefighters called police after seeing a handgun on the passenger seat as Hogg slept in the driver seat of a gray BMW near the Lakeshore off-ramp of Highway 580 highway. Oakland police established a perimeter and tried to wake him up "over the course of an hour," with a bullhorn, loudspeakers, and by banging on the windows, the complaint states.

The officers were unable to awaken Hogg even after they broke open a window, but when they finally roused him, one officer "immediately Tased him," whereupon, "inexplicably," a second officer shot him to death, according to the complaint. He was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital.

Police called their hour long attempt to awaken Hogg a standoff, according to multiple published reports. The family says there was no standoff at all: that police killed him as soon as he awoke.

The killing sparked several protests in Oakland, which already was roiled by police treatment of its African Americans residents. Many protesters said Hogg was killed for simply sleeping in his car.

"This pattern is all too familiar," Cat Brooks, lead organizer of the Anti-Police Terror Project, said after the shooting. "Police do not have license to shoot people simply for possessing a firearm. The police shot this man and then attempted to justify their act by simply claiming that their victim owned a gun.

"Would Demouria Hogg have been killed for sleeping in his car with a gun on the seat if he were white?" Brooks asked. "It's difficult to imagine."

After the killing, the California Department of Corrections said Hogg had a criminal record involving drug charges and was in violation of parole when he was shot.

Be that as it may, his attorney John Burris says in the lawsuit, Hogg "had not committed any crime" in the moments and hour before police killed him. The officers "had neither reasonable suspicion to detain Hogg nor probable cause to arrest him," the complaint adds. Nor had Hogg made any aggressive move to cause any of the officers to believe they were in danger.

It's the second lawsuit filed by Hogg's family. Other members of the family sued in Federal Court in October last year.

Attorney Burris did not immediately return a phone call. Nor did the Oakland city attorney.

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