Retired Oakland Police Captain Ersie Joyner III was shot 22 times while pumping gas at a Chevron station in the middle of the afternoon and now lives to tell the tale of that traumatizing day.
Looking back at the day of the shooting, Joyner said he was on his way to catch a flight and was not aware of his surroundings.
“This particular day, I was so engrossed with everything else,” he said, “I didn’t even see the car pull into the gas station, which, if I had, would have been a totally different outcome.”
The 28-year police veteran has transitioned to a career in law enforcement consulting, working with police departments on violence prevention programs, assisting cannabis companies with compliance and safety regulations, as well as working on TV shows as a police expert.
The 52-year-old was at the pump with his white Porsche SUV around 1 p.m. on October 21 when he was accosted by four men in ski masks. Gas station surveillance footage caught the ordeal on camera.
The thieves stole his necklace, bracelet, watch and cash but were not satisfied. At first cooperating with them, Joyner offered them the luggage in his car, but things escalated when they couldn’t find it.
“Shoot him and take his truck,” one of the men shouted.
Seeing that the men were holding handguns, and after hearing them discuss shooting him for the seventh time, Joyner felt his only option was to shoot first.
He fired his Glock 43 10 times, emptying his magazine. The men returned fire.
Speaking of his decision to shoot, Joyner said: “I respect people having their opinions. And I don’t expect everyone to agree. I don’t mind being challenged. But I had exercised restraint. But in the end, after 29 years of experience, I felt that I had to protect my life.”
Doctors told Joyner they believed he was hit 9 or 10 times, which created 22 bullet holes.
“They can’t tell me how many times I was shot because many of them are through-and-through wounds,” Joyner said.
While on the ground, Joyner remembers telling witnesses to call the police. The wounded Joyner was conscious during the entire situation and did not remember any witnesses calling police. Instead, he credits their rapid response to the gunshot detection technology, ShotSpotter.
When police arrived, he was taken in the back of a squad car to a trauma medical facility at Highland Hospital.
Following the shootout, Joyner learned that he killed 20-year-old rapper Desoni Gardner, or “Lil Theze.” The other three, his brothers, were not seriously injured.
The trio was arrested and charged with second-degree robbery and attempted murder.
By coincidence, the same Ceasefire team that Joyner led for seven years tracked down and arrested the suspects.
The Alameda County District Attorney is not pursuing charges against Joyner, who is protected under the “provocative act doctrine,” which allows a crime victim to use “justifiable lethal force” against an attacker.
After a complicated surgery, Joyner is miraculously on his way to a complete recovery, trusting in his faith in God and working hard in physical therapy.
“I’m just happy to be alive,” Joyner said. “I thought I was going to die several times. I thought for sure this was it. I want to glorify God in his greatness, and it’s His grace that I survived that,” Joyner told FOX KTVU.
Joyner does not regret defending himself but wishes he had the vigilance to have avoided the situation in the first place. Now, he remains hypervigilant about his surroundings.
Still, he said his experience could be a valuable lesson to others in similar situations.
“I want to make sure that people know that you have to fight for your life,” Joyner said. “You cannot just be a victim. You have to be a survivor.”