Nearly 2,000 people, including hundreds of officers whose squad cars jammed city streets, gathered at St. Basil’s Church in Vallejo to bid farewell to Oakland Police officer William B. Grijalva, who was gunned down during a confrontation over a pit bull terrier, Dec. 15, 1993.
The officers came from throughout Northern California and from as far away as San Diego to attend the services for the popular 41 -year-old patrolman who was set to retire in November, after completing 20 years on the force.
Grijalva, who lived in Benicia with his wife and two children, was eulogized by both department brass and fellow beat officers as a good man who exemplified the finest traditions of a policeman.
“He was a man’s man and a cop’s cop, Oakland Police Chief Joseph Samuels told the near 1,000 people seated in the church and more than 500 officers standing in formation outside. “He demonstrated it is right and it is moral for you to have a tough mind and a tender heart, Samuels said.
Grijalva, born in San Jose, attended primary and secondary schools there, graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School, and attended San Jose City College and San Jose State University. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard and, prior to joining tile Oakland Police Department, was a reserve deputy sheriff for the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department.
Appointed as an Oakland Police Officer on Nov. 15, 1974, he completed the 81st Recruit Academy, finishing second in his class. He served in the Patrol Division, Vice Control Division, and the Walking Detail.
On Jan. 9, 1979, Grijalva was awarded the department’s highest award, the Medal of Valor for entering a burning building, locating an unconscious invalid woman, and carrying her to safety. He was the recipient of many letters from citizens and merchants expressing appreciation for the manner in which he performed his duties.
While assigned to the department’s vice division, Grijalva earned a national reputation as one of the department’s experts in child sex crime cases. He was also a hostage negotiator.
Other officers and a neighbor remembered Grijalva as an avid fisherman, a Trivial Pursuit fanatic, and as a dedicated soccer and Little League coach.
Officers said Grijalva, a patrolman assigned to walk the Diamond District for the last several years, seemed to have a knack for showing up when most needed.
Deputy Chief Robert Nitchelini said it was not surprising that Grijalva was the one who responded to a call off his beat to assist another officer.
“He heard another officer needed help and he went to cover him. That was like him… unselfish, always helping his brother officer out,” Nitchelini said.
A trust fund for officer Grijalva’s family has been established at the Wells Fargo Bank, 2020 Webster St., Oakland 94612. Donations may also be mailed to the Oakland Police Officers Association, 717 Washington St., Oakland 94607.