OUSD police chief cusses out Trib videographer

TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is not going to file criminal charges against Tyska.

The school district’s police chief, Art Michel, has returned the videotape he confiscated from Tribune photographer Jane Tyska last Friday. Michel accused Tyska of hitting his patrol car with her elbow — and, later, of trying to incite a riot — while she was filming a student demonstration.

Warning: Some of the language in this clip is not exactly family-friendly.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • former hills parent

    Mr. Michel clearly has anger issues!

  • Joe

    Is this aother Ben Chavis story? I heasr he ran the OUSD police deparment a well as variuos of the chater schools.

    Damn there must be some sot of undergroundPow wow!

  • Katy Murphy

    No, this has nothing to do with Ben Chavis — to my knowledge!

  • Jose, Former Student

    He sounds like chavis, look like Chavis, and they are both Chiefs….

  • Nextset

    One of the first things people learn when they go to work for an public agency is you don’t embarass the boss or the agency. Another thing most survivors in service learn pretty quick is what happens when you get into fights with people who buy ink by the barrel – or who have TV cameras.

    Working police must use command voice and profanities when dealing with street people and in making arrests – to communicate and get compliance. We can debate the pros and cons of that but it’s not something that can be set by edict. You have to control things in the street – when you are making an arrest. Was this woman arrested?

    But there are ways to do things to avoid embarassment for your boss especially unneeded and unprofitable embarrasment. If you are going to arrest someone, do so. Getting into heated exchanges with the media and repeating yourself until you look foolish isn’t what cops are kept around for.

    This video doesn’t look good at all. And is this the “Police Chief”? They are retained in their positions because they can be slick and smooth in a crisis and when push comes to shove – kind of like Carroll O’Connor in the TV series “In The Heat Of The Night”. Which is probably what OUSD needs anyway.

    If I were running OUSD, which I certainly am not – I would require Police Services to be as smooth and as brutal as required to protect the people and property of the district and maintain order. I am not happy with what I see here. It’s not as smooth as my money is paying for. Dirty Harry was smoother, and he didn’t talk in circles.

  • Paul in Oakland

    Officer Michel needs to be fired in my opinion – and I pay his salary, so I should have a say. At the VERY LEAST, he needs a reprimand on his permanent record. He is clearly out of control with a lack of anger management skills. Obviously OUSD and OPD need to be more careful than to hire raging, out of control, abusive jerks.
    Totally unacceptable behavior from the chief – setting a horrible example of everything a cop should NOT BE.

    I have met very good cops in the past. Usually they are fresh out of academy and have good intentions. This guy is the worst example of what cops can become when not monitored closely and trained properly and taught people skills. They post cameras all over city streets to watch US, but really they should have more video/audio surveillance all over the police cars to catch their criminal misconduct. Thank god Ms TYska had the brilliant sense to turn on her camera and tape this cop’s inexcusable behavior.
    I wonder what would have happened if she was not white?
    I wonder what would have happened if she had just committed a crime? Cops have no right to be rude and curse. If someone had hit him in the face then I could see cursing. But not in a simple conversation.
    FIRE THAT MAN! and re-train his subordinates to clear the wreckage he must have brought to the people below him. Must be a horrible boss to work for, eh?

    And they wonder why people hate the police. IT IS BECAUSE OF EVENTS LIKE THIS THAT NO ONE WANTS TO TALK TO A COP ABOUT A CRIME!!
    GET IT???

  • John

    The perfect tag along for a “moving crime scene.”

  • Nextset

    Paul In Oakland: The opinion of civilians on the correctness of Police Action in the field is worthless. When you have passed a police academy and survived a probationary period you might have an opinion worth considering.

    Having said that, this video tape will likely be reviewed by a set of police managers for their opinion – which is taken seriously. OUSD can easily arrange to consult with outside agency managers and other experts in police field actions (experts as in “been there”). The resulting opinions on what we have in this, including the reports this man may have written and the reports of others at the scene – can lead to a decision to commend, re-train, demote, terminate or whatever.

    While I have read a thousands of police reports and am very familiar with police field procedures even I wouldn’t insert my own judgment in these cases. We have experts for this.

    It doesn’t look good, though. And even if this isn’t a significant issue if I were the OSUD board I want to be able to go to sleep knowing that my police management can be counted on to handle aggravation smoothly so that I don’t have to watch videos like this over and over. Even an ill-advised arrest can be made with style (ie emotions in check).

  • oakteach

    “The opinion of civilians on the correctness of Police Action in the field is worthless. When you have passed a police academy and survived a probationary period you might have an opinion worth considering.”

    Hmmm. But yet people who have never successfully taught a classroom of kids or who have no higher education background in pedagogy or learning theory feel the need to endlessly babble about education policy and practice.


  • Joe

    I like him! Put him in a classroom with some of these loser students.

    Put him in that cheater- oh I mean charter school in the flatlands that was in the newspaper on Monday. Let him at those kids!! Someone like him will straighten those ghetto kids and their principal.

    Thanks Katy , for your stories.. Very entertaining!

  • Nextset

    Oakteach, teaching adolescents is not a profession that requires split second life or death decisions. It is not as difficult or important as trial practice, surgery, or the decisions to kill.

    Don’t think you are as important in the scheme of things. You aren’t. Public School teachers can be replaced with any 4 year college graduate that can pass the CBEST. Physicians, Lawyers, Pilots, Police Officers, cannot. Your “profession” is not as vaulted as your unions claim. You are just service workers – and replacable ones at that. Not so for teachers of complex subjects such as calculus. Does that include you?

    One of the reasons we can’t just replace any police officer who we don’t care for is that it costs well over $100k to just recruit and train an entry level peace officer. Experienced supervisory or command staff peace officers are a heck of a lot more expensive. I can replace you in a flash, especially in a recession.

    This officer we are discussing is there to carry deadly force and to kill and order the killing or people as required by his duties. Get to know SWAT leaders for example. Have you talked to a sniper about the process of killing at a great distance?

    Don’t ever compare yourself to a Cop. Few teachers could ever pass the academy or the field training.

  • cranky teacher

    Nextset, your latest comment was so stupid it actually made me laugh out loud.

    Of course there are some good cops. But we’ve all known people that became cops that are dumber than a sack of bricks and twice as irritating.

    Few teachers could pass the field training? You mean the ones that 60?

    And lawyers — I know several that have become teachers. They’ll tell you which is harder, and it’s not understanding the law. Trials take a particular breed, I’ll give you that, but c’mon.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Haven’t seen you lately. Well, look at it this way. A 21 year old high school graduate hired at a Oakland Cop has a $70K+ base pay and with overtime can easily pass $100K. What are teachers paid nowadays in the public school? $40K+? And the retirement pay (formula) for cops dwarfs what everybody else makes. Yet Oakland has screaming billboards out of town begging people to apply for Cop jobs.

    It is difficult to recruit and fill police positions. That’s because the job is one that is very hard to qualify for. As I’ve said before, anybody with a 4 year degree and a CBEST can be a teacher… So you don’t throw cops away lightly. Besides they have powerful Unions and Good Lawyers & Labor Negotiators – do teachers?

    As far as your comment “that we’ve all known cops”… there you go, constantly trying to compare individuals when we speak of groups, group behavior and group norms. As a teacher I expect better from you.

    My point is that Police Services are a profession with their own sets of rules and realities. Sad, but true. As bad as any number of YouTube Cop Taser & Force videos look to the typical inexperienced civillian, they are normally found not to be excessive force – but rather appropriate force that all officers are trained to use. We can’t say which is which without running the entire case study through experts.

    Back to this incident. I frankly don’t like the video, I don’t like the way this officer looks, and I don’t like the way he sounds. I would be capable to removing him from a management spot if it is a serve-at-the-pleasure assignment because I know there are plenty other Cops available for management staff who are too smart and too smooth to let themselves get in a mess like this one. And at the higher levels we are paying for class & style as much as combat skills.

    But I cannot condemn him as a cop unlike some other Yahoos here might because 1) I’m not an expert on in-field use of force (despite some considerable experience in the subject from reading and in court testimony) and 2) I don’t have the full story from all the witnesses of whatever happened between him and the reporter. I assume the OUSD management will deal with this (order an expert review) and if they stick their collective heads in the sand then Mr. Burris is capable of doing things for them.

  • Nextset

    Joe: No, I wouldn’t “put him in a classroom with those loser students”

    In my watching of the video, over and over, I do agree that he seems too agitated and too emotional in his dealings with the prisoner (and that’s what she was). I have a problem with that and I want those I send into a classroom of losers to have a higher than normal sense of emotional control while being able to physically incapacitate a combative student.

    I know some particularly good jail matrons & male jail staff for that. They are well read, also. The last thing the beligerents will see before they pass out are the staff’s smiling faces. We do have people for unruly kids. And some of them are Old School.

  • Diamond Broussard

    This is upsetting and also emphasizes the need for a police department overhaul in OUSD. These crooked cops are so busy bullying innocent bystanders that they do not pay attention to the crimes, violence, and drugs in the street. Chief Michel needs to get his act together ASAP. And people wonder why the youth have no respect for the police… Get a better day job, please.

  • Nextset

    Diamond: You know, you are very young.

    It’s not this simple. You need to ride along with police officers. I’d suggest Fri and Sat nights. Crooked Cops steal from crime scenes and dead bodies and take bribes. Watch your insults to make sure your words match what you are trying to say. Do you have knowledge of East Bay Cops commonly taking bribes, etc?

    I think you are trying to complain about Cops being too aggressive verbally and physically. OK. That’s why I’m telling you to start riding along. There is a war going on in the streets of the East Bay. You don’t see it, but the cops live it. We are losing this war. As part of the fight the cops are becoming more calloused. That is emotional and physical self-defense and you can’t legislate that away. Some call this burn-out, some call it survival. I call it inevitable. It can be handled.

    Nothing in this video portrays this man as corrupt. And I agree with you that he’d better get his act together real fast. And the reporter is no innocent bystander. You need to get your head clear on that. The reporter is a player. And I’m not meaning to suggest she did or didn’t do something wrong. But she is an actor on the scene here.

    Cops don’t walk down the street attacking passers-by, criminals do that and Oakland is full of them.

    Some of my high school classmates were East Bay cops (some have retired now). Co-workers from old entry level service jobs went on to become police officers and retired at management level. These were blacks, including women, as well as whites and Jews. I can tell you that East Bay Police are very integrated and women are well represented. So your “I don’t like the cops” thing is more a representation of you not getting around than anything else. Get around more.

    What we see on video here doesn’t seem to be personal – it’s maybe somebody losing it. Maybe. One person… That happens and it can be dealt with very quickly.

    That’s all this is.

  • Plumbguy

    Chief Michel trumped up the ‘elbow’ incident to assault (yes, that was assault) Tyska so she would cease-and-desist from recording the protest. This is a perfect example of police ‘take charge’ training gone very wrong. Cops use the take charge attitude every time they meet up with freedom of speech trying to be freely spoken. Sometimes it escalates into the assault just witnessed. As far as Nextset’s assertion that we (the great unwashed) have no right to judge Michel’s actions UNLESS we do a ride along or go thru cop boot camp or perform some other ‘qualifier’ is the same attitude that makes people untrusting of cops and their supporters. Just do what they say and avoid the assault? And when the cops are wrong? Does the assault, or worse, just go away? Cops assault more than their share of people just by trying to take charge of a situation that they usually have no understanding of in the first place. Of the people, by the people, for the people. Maybe it should be: Of the cops, by the cops, for the cops. By the way, assaults are personal…try it sometime with a cop trying to control you, you will not like it.

  • Nextset

    Plumbguy: What’s your occupation & training? I’m trying to understand where you are coming from.

    I think you misunderstand my point of view. We are judging Michel – we are discussing that here. While we may form our initial impression of things from the video we are no more able to make a definitive decision about him or other cop actions than we are able to judge a physician’s surgical technique or a Lawyer or Judge’s tactics. That’s my point. Riding along – and I’ve done that in several states and another country – gives us something more to draw from than just armchair speculation of what happens in the street and why.

    But the average man, much less woman, on the street hasn’t a clue about Police work. They have been sheltered from that reality because we pay the cops to take out the garbage just like we pay our troops to deal with foreign enemies on the battlefield. And you aren’t qualified to judge their tactics either. Doesn’t mean you won’t form initial opinions for partial information though.

    Stop thinking life is simple or just black and white. It makes you sound like a student. Being a student is ok but you need to be studying and not opining. The fact that you don’t want to wait for an expert assessment of Michel’s conduct doesn’t mean much. An expert assessment of this mess is the only thing that’s going to lead to some kind of action over this. Police incidents are not put up for mob vote. (Or medical malpractice claims or judicial blunders or bad nursing, pharmacy, dog grooming, auto repair, etc.)

    By the way, Katy, has anything come from the public revelation of this video? Has Michel & Co said anything about this? Is their a review of some sort being conducted into this?

    Oh, and Plumbguy: Try combat with a cop sometime and you can be dead. Usually that can be avoided with a Taser but sometimes Cops just shoot people dead. They are paid to do it, so You and I don’t have to. So when the officer tells you to do something, you do it.

  • plumbguy

    Nextset: Granted, first person knowledge of police work is preferrable to peering in thru the window, so to speak.

    I got your meaning; did you get mine? If our police force cannot make the sound decisions necessary to serve and protect then where are we? We have to form opinions and base those opinions not just on the video but on our own experiences, as well.

    We can’t all be cops. But our freedom demands that we question authority. Your message is have your own opinion but do not dare say that it means a whit unless you’ve done a ride along, donated to police causes, or whatever you have used as a gauge.

    Make no mistake, a police state can become a reality very quickly without people being very distrusting of cops. Cooperation is good…provided that the other side (the cop)is compliant and will cooperate. I saw none of that in the video. He was assaulting her with intent to falsely imprison her and thus make it easier to confiscate her film/video. Cop attitude.

    Whether you want this to be black and white or in color, you, me, and certainly not the victim has any control over it. The point is that he had the control without having the authority.

    Speaking of ‘sounding like': you read like you love cops and they will do no wrong in your eyes…provided, of course, that they are given the oportunity to justify their actions. Michel’s justification was her elbow vs. his car!!!!

    And as for ‘try combat with a cop sometime’ again it sounds like you are being the high and mighty expert and those that do not possess your ‘insight’ are worthless. Talk about naivete. ‘Wait to judge’ is your mantra. Let the cops put on the right spin and you’ll buy it. You would have us believe a rubber stamp to justify all cop actions is a good thing…as long as the stamp has ‘cop experience’.

    Cops beget cops and they will lie and cheat to protect each other…and they have the guns and the authority to do it. Don’t believe me? There’s plenty of evidence over the past 30 years, not just in CA but other states, as well. Take Rodney King’s beating: it was proven that the cops falsified documents and perjured themselves to protect their version of events. But that videao did not lie. It showed a police riot vs. one man when it first appeared and it still shows the same today. Despite what the command police sergeant spun it out to be on the witness stand, in his depositons, or in his (falsified) incident report it still shows the same thing.

    I welcome videographers using their cameras to show the rest of us just what happens when a cop unilaterally commands a situation, falsifies grounds for action, and then assaults a citizen without valid reason. This guy is a menace and should be busted down to a security guard at Circuit City…without the gun.

  • former hills parent

    Has this video been sent to any of the television stations? This might press OUSD to actually take action.I showed this video to my colleagues in another school district and they are amazed that an employee with such rage and poor judgement has remained in his position. Then they remembered that this is OUSD and it made sense. What does this say?

  • Nextset

    Plumbguy: I have seen cops fired on one bad day – just like that – after 20 years at work. I have seen Cops sent to jail. Actually I have seen plenty of Ex-cops… career guys, not just Rookies, fired. I have seen Rookies (less than 2 years service) dismissed because they weren’t “trusted”. (Don’t even get started about women and minorities trying to make it in Police Services…) So I do know that there is discipline in Police Services. If the people were really worried about fidelity in Police Services (they’re not) they would legislate the election of Police Chiefs – as we have with the County Sheriffs. Well nobody is worried except the losers, street people & maybe student types who aren’t housebroken. I’m a homeowner, so are all my friends and relatives. We don’t have problems with police services – we know them. How about you?

    Rodney King is not a good case for you to use. As far as I’m concerned, Rodney created all his problems in life and the jury made the right decision in that case. You tend to get beat when you use drugs and run crazy in the streets. It that my problem? No, it’s just another day in the life of a crackhead. I’d have beat him also.

    Yes we are going to have a “Police” State. it will be run by Obama and the left wing democrats. They have no intention of having any free speech and they will confiscate our guns, making the population helpless. Or at least they will try. They won’t get mine. And if you think democratic party controlled territories are “free”, talk to Cindy Sheehan about what happened to her when she dared to run against Nancy Pelosi – and by the way, SF hasn’t had an honest election in a LONG time. I believe (with some input from friends who have been involved in politics there) that the ballot boxes are normally stuffed by the machine. The same machine that abhorrs any requirement that voters be identified when they show up and claim they are the person on the rolls and want to cast ballots.

    You foolishly assume I “love” cops and think they can do no wrong – or something like that. You must be young. You assume extremes in a debate. I could fire Michel in an eyeblink. I just won’t let him be railroaded with due process. Even in this public forum. Maybe he goes or maybe not, but that’s after a fair hearing. And I don’t for a minute consider this video dispositive. We have hearings for that and I’d see that he gets one. What’s your excuse here?

    If you are worried about a Police State you have a lot more to worry about in CA than whether your local police services are going to harrass you. Most of them (city cops) now go from call to call with little patrol, and you will see the rise of more NOGO areas where they will not even try to control.

    Maybe you haven’t lived long enough to have had murdered friends, friends who’ve been carjacked or mugged, friends who’ve been home invaded. Friends and relatives who’ve been killed and crippled by Drunks, friends who’ve been ripped off and attacked by druggies, gangs, etc. Well I know tons who have – so don’t think you can sell your “I hate the cops, they’re all mean…” here. Grow up and meet the people in your town. Including the cops.

  • Nextset

    thats “without due process” in para 4, sorry…

  • News Reporter

    I am a bit more disappointing in the Oakland Tribune management than anything else for their apparent delay and hesitancy to stand up and assert themselves as a news organization who won’t let pinheads like Art Michel violate the law and get away with it. I’m glad this editorial is coming out, but it should have been printed last week within days of the incident. The Tribune management needed to stand up and demand that their illegally confiscated news gathering equipment be returned. They should have brought the MediaNews lawyers in immediately, turned this into a front page scoop and demanded answers about why the Oakland Unified School District is allowing their police officers to arrests journalists and illegally seize their equipment. I’m less than impressed by their response to this entire incident, and convinced that this is an opportunity to oust these problem cops who think they’re above the law.

  • Nextset

    News Reporter: I found your post very interesting. because believe me, there are no accidents. The Trib is very much able and willing to do all that you suggested but they didn’t. The obvious answer that comes to mind is that it would not serve their interests to do so. IE – they know something we don’t – which I see a LOT in the legal business. When somebody is not doing what it would seem would be the obvious thing to do, you’d better believe they have a good reason for the way they are acting.

    And it is a personnel matter also.

    So we go back to my earlier posts about staying out of other people’s business. It’s fine to support one who is fighting their own fight(especially when asked to), but stay out of other people’s battles – especially when the other people aren’t fighting yet and you just want to start something.

  • http://www.iowapix.com Keith Turrill

    I just watched the video of the police abuse at an Oakland school. There is absolutely no excuse for the conduct and in some states that type of police behavior would probably constitute an assault.

    I have not been through Oakland in many years but do occasionally travel to California. There is no way that I would tolerate any obnoxious buffoon screaming and swearing at me. And the last time that I was convicted of anything was a speeding ticket in 2000.

    Keith Turrill
    Owner – IowaPix, Inc

  • http://www.iowapix.com Keith Turrill

    I wonder if this is the same Oakland cop Art Michel dba AMfoto.us who moonlights as a photographer in Oakland. That might explain some of the erratic behavior.

    Listed below is a link to the domain name registration.


  • Pingback: Oakland Schools Police Chief Outta There «()

  • Photorights

    > I wonder if this is the same Oakland cop Art Michel
    > dba AMfoto.us who moonlights as a photographer in
    > Oakland.

    Without a doubt. Just look at some of his photos, which include a kid in a cop’s hat and an arrest scene, then there’s a video recruiting helicopter pilots for… the Oakland Police.

    He was totally out of control in this situation and should have been fired, not resigned.

  • Bill Benson

    So does anyone know why the ex-Stasi who now work at the “terms of use” department for youtube removed this video?