SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is opening up old wounds for some in Sacramento who remember an unarmed black teenager that was shot by a white police officer in the 1970s.
“A young man lost his life and as i have come to understand he was doing nothing wrong,” said Sacramento City Councilman Allen Warren.
He was just a boy in December 1972, but he remembers the pain in his community.
“There was a deep pain in our community, and with that pain came the deep mistrust,” he said.
Raymond Brewer, a 15-year-old star athlete, was shot and killed by a Sacramento Police sergeant who thought the teen and his friends were an armed group of robbers. It turns out, Brewer had a broom he used to fend off dogs in the neighborhood.
“And i believe it was unjustified,” Warren said.
The shooting death created tension in the community, leading to protests and city leaders demanding an investigation and a review of police methods.
That sergeant’s name was Sam Somers. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because his son, with the same name, is Sacramento’s chief of police.
“I think it has made me a better police chief,” said the younger Somers.
The chief says the experience has made him the leader his is today, and Warren agrees.
“That incident has served to make Sam a better police officer, to give him some of the sensitivity training that you know i think that all officers should have,” Warren said.
“I have that historical perspective,” Somers said. “You have to know your history to know where you’re going right.”
A judge ruled the older Somers did nothing wrong in the 1972 shooting.