[Ppnews] Ex-teacher arrested in '70 slaying

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 11 12:33:01 EDT 2005

arrested in '70 slaying
Police cite new leads and say rookie officer was shot by Black Panther 
<mailto:hlee at sfchronicle.com>Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, August 11, 2005

A retired Oakland schoolteacher was arrested Wednesday on charges that he 
shot and killed a Berkeley police officer in 1970 with the help of a former 
Black Panther who was the getaway driver, police said.

The suspected shooter, Styles Price, 56, of Oakland, was arrested at his 
home without incident in the Aug. 20, 1970, killing of Officer Ronald 
Tsukamoto, 28, a rookie and newlywed who was killed after only 11 months on 
the job.

Don Juan Warren Graphenreed, 56, a convicted burglar who was booked last 
year in the case and then released without being charged, was arrested 
Wednesday at Corcoran State Prison, where he was being held on a drug 
charge, authorities said.

Both men have been booked at the Berkeley City Jail on suspicion of murder 
and conspiracy to commit murder, said Officer Joe Okies, Berkeley police 
spokesman. Alameda County prosecutors could decide Friday whether to file 

The killing was motivated by the anti-police sentiment that was prevalent 
in Berkeley at the time, and the suspects killed Tsukamoto to raise their 
stature in the Black Panthers, a militant black group that advocated 
violence against police, police have said.

Tsukamoto had stopped a motorcyclist on University Avenue west of McGee 
Avenue for a traffic violation shortly before 1 a.m. He decided not to give 
the driver a ticket and struck up a conversation with him.

As Tsukamoto spoke to the motorcyclist about the Vietnam War, a man wearing 
a long coat approached them, said it was relatively quiet in Berkeley -- 
then shot the officer and fled in a Studebaker with Graphenreed behind the 

Last year, Berkeley police arrested Graphenreed on the same charges he now 
faces. Police also arrested twin sisters Joyce Gaskin and Joy Hall of 
Oakland on suspicion of being accessories after the fact to murder. But 
prosecutors declined to charge the three, citing a lack of evidence.

Okies said Wednesday that new leads and new technology helped lead to the 
new arrest of Graphenreed and the case against Price. Without elaborating, 
Okies said police had put together "more than enough to establish probable 
cause needed for the arrests."

Price, an Oakland landlord, taught social studies and history at Oakland 
and Fremont high schools in Oakland before retiring about five years ago, 
said Sandor Price, 36, of Oakland, who rejected allegations that his father 
killed a police officer decades ago.

"This is completely ludicrous," Sandor Price said. "My father has never 
done anything (wrong) in his life." The son said he was concerned for his 
father's well-being in jail because he has a bad back and a heart condition.

Styles Price has no previous brushes with the law, said his attorney, 
William Du Bois of Oakland.

"He's totally on the up-and-up," Du Bois said. "He's totally straight, 
above-board. There's nothing that would ever suggest a basis for his 
arrest. I have no idea what the evidence against him is."

A third suspect -- an alleged lookout -- is being sought on an arrest 
warrant and is believed to be out of the country, Okies said.

Tsukamoto was the first Japanese American officer hired by the city. The 
city of Berkeley dedicated its public safety building in 2000 in his honor.

E-mail Henry K. Lee at <mailto:hlee at sfchronicle.com>hlee at sfchronicle.com.

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