[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
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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