The city of Oakland released police body-camera video today showing officers shutting down an illegal party at the Ghost Ship warehouse, less than two years before a fire there killed 36 people. It has again raised questions as to whether officers should have done more, and whether other city departments were notified about conditions at the building.
The video begins with Chavez repeatedly banging on a door of the warehouse on 31st Avenue near International Boulevard at 1:30 a.m. on March 1, 2015.
"It's the police!" Chavez says.
"Just a moment!" a woman responds.
The officer was investigating a noise complaint and was told people were being charged S25 to get into an unpermitted event, and that partygoers were doing drugs and being sold alcohol.
Chavez tells party promoter Sean Griffith, "What you need to do is you need to get everybody out of the place, and turn your music down."
But Griffith responds, "We're having a private event."
"It doesn't matter," Chavez replies.
The promoter then tells the officer he can't come inside and pushes the door on the officer's leg.
"Hey! hey!" Chavez yells. "You're hurting my leg...do not push the door! You're hurting my leg!"
Griffith says, "Yo dude, you're hurting me! You don't care if you hurt me, only if I hurt you."
After a 20-minute visit, Officer Chavez promises to take action.
"If I come back, I'm going to give you a fine," the officer says. "It's going be a very, very expensive fine. I'm still going to make sure that the city knows about this place, and I'm going to talk to the owner of this place as well. We'll figure out what you guys are doing."
Officer Chavez was familiar with the layout of the warehouse and knew that it didn't have a cabaret permit. He tells another officer, "Top is like the dance floor area."
Chavez wrote an incident report but didn't cite anyone. It's not clear if other city departments were notified about the conditions inside the building.
Less than two years later, 36 people died when a fire tore through the Ghost Ship in December.
Oakland officers are now required to report any illegal parties they come across to their supervisor. other city agencies are also notified.