Interview with Richard Jensen

Could you tell us what happened that night on April 6, 1968, two days after Martin Luther King?


Yeah, I had been, we were all working 12-hour shifts in Oakland, ah, all on alert to come in and not have days off, were cancelled and I was working my day off, a 12-hour day, with a, in an area of Oakland I wasn't familiar with. The, the regular beat officer, I was working with him, so we were working a two-man unit. And, ah, along about 9 o'clock at night, just as it started to get dark, we were driving down, Union, 28th and Union and, ah, we saw a car parked in the middle of the street, a light blue '53 Ford, the, the lights were on, the car doors, both doors were opened, and, ah, the car appeared to be empty but it was parked on street with the lights on, doors open. Then, as we drove up behind it we saw a young Black man take a look at us. He was standing by an open car door and he ran, ran towards the houses and, ah, we pulled up behind the car. I reached for the microphone to run the plate, it was a Florida plate on the car and just as I was reaching, ah, I got shot, ah, in my arm and back, all kind of bullets, just, ah, like the 4th of July firecrackers going off. I must have been hit four or five times and slumped to the seat of the car and then the bullet, the firing just continued, ah, bullets just flying all over, glass flying everywhere. My head and arms and everything is all full of glass and my partner got out of the other side of the car and, ah, returned a couple of shots with his .38. Came back in the car to get to the radio, to tell other units where we were and what was happening and he did do that. And, ah, of course once the, ah, other units heard where we are, what was happening, you know, then, then you hear all these sirens coming. You know that help was coming. The next thing I remember was, was being lifted out of the car by some people, ah, a couple of who were crying, some police sergeants I used to work for and they thought I was dead. I had the bullets in my back and my arm and my leg. I had been shot maybe nine different times with bullets going in and out in certain places. I had a lot of bullet holes that night and they, they thought I was dead. I, I wasn't but the bull--the firing continued. It was like a, it was like a war going on, you know. They, we found out later there was 13 people shooting at us. Our car, our Black and White car, had later on, they counted 157 holes in our car, that don't, I don't know how many missed or how many went through the windows but 157 of them hit our car. Several of them hit me. My partner was grazed.


Let's cut.