Read pr20070801.pdf text version

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE ­ August 1, 2007 EUREKA, CALIFORNIA

On July 31, 2007, the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office released its findings in regards to the shooting death of Zachary Cruz Omholt-Cooke. After an extensive investigation, and a thorough review of the facts, there was compelling evidence that the officers involved, were presented with a situation that actually, and reasonably, appeared to be a life-threatening situation to all present. In fear for their lives, and the lives of others, and forced to make split second decisions, because of the nature of the circumstances, and the locations of the respective parties, the officers fired several rounds at Cooke, ending the threat posed by him. The officers involved acted lawfully, and in self-defense, and the use of deadly force was reasonable and justified. Therefore, this investigation is closed and the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office will take no further action. Cooke's death is undeniably tragic. A sad ending for a young life gone wrong.

A copy of the Conclusion will be available on the District Attorney's Website.

July 31, 2007

Steve Martin Special Agent in Charge Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives San Francisco Field Division 5601 Arnold Road, Suite # 400 Dublin, CA 94568 Sheriff Gary Philp Humboldt County Sheriff's Department 825 5th Street Eureka, CA 95501 Chief Gar Nielson Eureka Police Department 604 C Street Eureka, CA 95501

RE:

January 4, 2007, shooting death of Zachary Cruz Omholt-Cooke, at 3207 Albee Street, Eureka, California

Dear Special Agent Martin, Sheriff Philp, and Chief Nielson: This review into the January 4, 2007, shooting death of Zachary Cruz Omholt-Cooke, aged 18, (hereinafter referred to as "Cooke"), at 3207 Albee Street, in Eureka, California was conducted pursuant to the joint protocol between this office and all Humboldt County law enforcement agencies calling upon the District Attorney to conduct an independent assessment of the circumstances surrounding the use of deadly force. This review cannot and does not examine such issues as compliance with the policies and procedures of any law enforcement agency, ways to improve training, or any issues related to civil liability. Accordingly, this review does not and should not be interpreted as expressing an opinion on these matters.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF APPLICABLE LAW Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, an individual has the right to be free from the use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer even when that officer is making a lawful arrest. Graham v. Connor (1989) 490 U.S. 386, 394-96. ("All claims that law enforcement officers have used excessive force ­ deadly or not ­ in the course of an arrest, investigatory stop, or other `seizure' of a free citizen should be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment and its `reasonableness' standard, rather than under a `substantive due process' approach.") "Determining whether the force used to effect a particular seizure is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment requires a careful balancing of the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against the countervailing governmental interests at stake." Graham, 490 U.S. at 396. This balancing test entails consideration of the totality of the facts and circumstances in the particular case, including "the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight." Id. 1 "All determinations of unreasonable force "must embody allowances for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments ­ in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving... about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.'" Scott v. Henrich (9th Cir. 1994) 39 F.3d 912. "Any peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense may use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance." Penal Code section 835a. "A peace officer who makes or attempts to make an arrest need not retreat or desist from his efforts by reason of the resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested; nor shall such officer be deemed the aggressor or lose his right to self-defense by the use of reasonable force to effect the arrest or to prevent escape or overcome resistance." Id. "When the arrest is being made by an officer under the authority of a warrant, after information of the intention to make an arrest, if the person to be arrested either flees or forcibly resists, the officer may use all necessary means to effect the arrest. Penal Code section 843. 2 A peace officer may use deadly force in the course of their duties: (i) in obedience to any judgment of the competent court; (ii) when necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to the execution of some legal process, or in the discharge of any other legal duty; or (iii) when necessarily committed in retaking felons who have been rescued or have escaped, or when necessarily committed in arresting persons charged with felony, and who are fleeing from justice or resisting arrest. Penal Code section 196. In addition to specific authority provided to peace officers, an officer at all times has the protection of the law of self-defense which provides that homicide is justifiable when it is committed while "resisting any attempt [by any person] to murder any person, or to commit a felony, or to do some great bodily injury upon any person." Penal Code section 197.3

There is no question in this case that the firing of guns at Omholt-Cooke constituted deadly force, whether defined as force reasonably likely to cause death (as it was at the time of the events giving rise to this case) or as force creating a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury. See, Smith v. City of Hemet (9th Cir. 2005) 394 F.3d 689, 704-07 (en banc), overruling Vera Cruz v. City of Escondido (9th Cir. 1998) 139 F.3d 659, 663. 2 See generally, Arrest, Penal Code sections 833 ­ 851.90.

3

1

Penal Code section 664 & 187 (summarized in pertinent part)

If attempted murder is committed upon a peace officer and the person who commits the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is such a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties, the person guilty of the attempt shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole. If the crime attempted is willful, deliberate and premeditated murder the person guilty of that attempt shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life with the possibility of parole. In other cases, attempted murder is punishable in the state for five, seven or nine years. Penal Code section 245(d)(1) (summarized in pertinent part)

Any person who commits an assault upon the person of a peace officer with a firearm, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, when the peace officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for four, six, or eight years. Penal Code section 245(a)(2) (summarized in pertinent part) Any person who commits an assault upon the person of another with a firearm shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in the county jail for not less than six months and not exceeding one year, or by both a fine not exceeding $10,000 and imprisonment. Penal Code section 834 (summarized in pertinent part) An arrest is taking a person into custody, in a case in the manner authorized by law. An arrest may be made by a peace officer. Penal Code section 834a If a person has knowledge, or by the exercise of reasonable care, should have knowledge, that he is being arrested by a peace officer, it is the duty of such a person to refrain from using force or any weapon to resist such arrest. Penal Code section 835 An arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person, or by submission to the custody of an officer. The person arrested may be subject to such restraint as is reasonable for his arrest and detention. Penal Code section 835a Any peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense may use reasonable force to effect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance. A peace officer who makes or attempts to make an arrest need not retreat or desist from his efforts by reason of the resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested; nor shall such officer be deemed the aggressor or lose his right to self-defense by the use of reasonable force to effect the arrest or to prevent escape or to overcome such resistance. Penal Code section 836 (summarized in pertinent part) A peace officer may arrest a person in obedience to a warrant or without a warrant whenever the officer has probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense in the officer's presence or that he has omitted a felony. CALJIC 5.30 Self-defense against assault (in pertinent part) It is lawful for a person who is being assaulted to defend himself from attack if, as a reasonable person, he has grounds for believing and does believe that bodily injury is about to be inflicted upon him. In doing so, that person may use all force and means which he believes to be reasonably necessary and which would appear to a reasonable person, in the same or similar circumstances, to be necessary to prevent the injury which appears to be imminent. CALJIC 5.32 Use of force in defense of another It is lawful for a person who, as a reasonable person, has grounds for believing and does believe that bodily injury is about to be inflicted upon another individual to protect that individual from attack. In doing so, he may use all force and means which that person believes to be reasonably necessary and which would appear to a reasonable person, in the same or similar circumstances, to be necessary to prevent the injury which appears to be imminent.

CALJIC 5.50 Self-defense, assailed person need not retreat (in pertinent part) A person threatened with an attack that justifies the exercise of the right of self-defense need not retreat. In the exercise of a his right of self-defense a person may stand his ground and defend himself by the use of all force and means which would appear to be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation and with similar knowledge. This law applies even though the assailed person might more easily have gained safety by flight or by withdrawing from the scene. CALJIC 5.51 Self-defense, actual danger not necessary (in pertinent part) Actual danger is not necessary to justify self-defense. If one is confronted by the appearance of danger which arouses in his mind, as a reasonable person, an actual belief and fear that he is about to suffer bodily injury, and if a reasonable person in a like situation, seeing and knowing the same facts, would be justified in believing himself in like danger, and if that individual so confronted acts in selfdefense upon these appearances and from that fear and actual beliefs, the person's right of self-defense is the same whether the danger is real or merely apparent.

INVOLVED OFFICERS Eureka Police Department Officer Terry Liles Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Detective Marvin Kirkpatrick Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Michael Medlin RELEVANT FACTS Background Information Cooke, Jason Omholt (hereinafter referred to as "Omholt"), and Waymond Kelly (hereinafter referred to as "Kelly") were suspected to be involved in a string of armed robberies in Humboldt County; at discharging a firearm at witnesses; and at discharging a firearm at a pursuing sheriff deputy. All were wanted on felony warrants for various felony charges. Because of the nature of the offenses and the escalating violence of the suspects, the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force put together a team of federal, state and local law enforcement officers/agents to search for and arrest Cooke, Omholt and Kelly (hereinafter referred to as the "Omaha Task Force."). All subjects were considered armed and dangerous and likely to fight or flee if given an opportunity. On the morning of January 3, 2007, the Omaha Task Force located and arrested Omholt at 2622 Spring Street in Eureka, California. A search was served on that location and several weapons were recovered along with some ammo and clothing that were similar to the clothing used in several of the robberies. Events of January 4, 2007 On the morning of January 4, 2007, the Omaha Task Force4 received information that Cooke was staying occasionally at a vacant residence located at 3207 Albee Street in Eureka, California. The officers went to the location and secured the perimeter while they obtained written permission to enter the residence from the owner, Michael McHenry. While they were waiting to obtain that permission the officers noticed wet footprints on the porch leading into the back door. After obtaining written permission to enter the residence, the officers knocked and noticed their presence, their status and their intention to enter the house. Receiving no response, they kicked the door several times until it gave way and they could gain entrance into the house. Summarized statement of Officer Liles Prior to entering the 3207 Albee Street residence the officers knocked and noticed. Officer Liles stacked behind Officer Watson and the ATF Agent kicked the door open. On entering the residence the officers called for Cooke and Kelly to come out and surrender. There was a lot of noise and announcing that they were "Police" and were looking for Kelly and Cooke as they cleared the first floor.

4

That day comprised of: Eureka Police Department Sgt Mike Hislop*; Eureka Police Department Officer Steven Watson; Eureka Police Department Officer Terry Liles; State Parole Special Agent Greg Allen State Parole Special Agent Gary Woffinden; Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Detective Marvin Kirkpatrick; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Michael Medlin. * Currently Chief Investigator, Humboldt County District Attorney's Office.

On clearing the first floor, it was decided that they should clear the second floor and Officer Liles climbed up to do so.5 After reaching the second floor and the closed door there, Officer Liles called for Officer Watson to come up to give assistance before he went in to clear the room. Officer Watson went up to the second floor and took a position about ten feet away from the door to the room. With their weapons drawn, they began to yell that they were the police and whoever was in the room was to acknowledge their presence and surrender. Receiving no response, Officer Liles moved forward and took a position to the left of the door while Officer Watson was behind him and to his right. Officer Liles again yelled that they were the police and for whoever might be in the room to come out with their hands up. He heard no voices, movement or scurrying about so he pushed the door open. On opening the door, Officer Liles observed what appeared to be a person under a blanket. His first thought was the person was a drunken transient. Then he saw movement under the blanket and heard and saw a flash that he associated with a shotgun blast. At that point, believing both his and Officer Watson's life was in danger, Officer Liles returned fire by unloading his firearm into the center mass of the blanketed body. 6 When the slide to his firearm slid back, he knew he had shot all fifteen rounds and he conducted a combat reload of backing out of the door opening, putting his back against the wall, dropping his empty magazine and reloading a loaded magazine. Then he returned to his firing position where he again ordered the subject, who was still covered by a blanket to show his hands. Observing continued movement under the blanket and getting no response, after several commands to show hands, Officer Liles fired a final round into the center of mass that was the human form under the blanket. After that he heard moaning and groaning coming from under the blanket. After he fired the last shot, Officer Liles heard Officer Watson say there was a second subject in the room and he saw two hands appear.7 He gave the subject commands and he complied. After the subject stood with his hands high, Officer Liles had him do a 360 so he could inspect him for weapons and then pull the blanket off the subject that he had fired at. At that time Officer Liles observed what was later observed to be Cooke's body lying on his stomach. There was no movement from Cooke at that time. Officer Liles removed the second subject from the room and then returned to Cooke. He held his weapon on Cooke, told him not to move, he was going to handcuff him and get him medical help and then, with the assistance of Officer Watson, handcuffed him. At the time of shooting, Officer Liles was in fear for his life and for the life of the other officers and agents. Summarized statement of Agent Medlin Prior to entering the residence the officers knocked and noticed. Receiving no response, Agent Medlin "mule kicked' the door several times before the door was breached. As the officers made entry, they continued to announce themselves and to tell anyone inside to come out and make themselves known. On entering the residence the officers cleared the first floor of the residence. After clearing the first floor, it was decided that they should clear the second floor as well.8

5 6

The stairs leading up the second floor was missing. Officer Liles carried a Glock sidearm with a loaded magazine of 14 rounds and 1 round in the chamber for a total of 15 rounds. 7 A juvenile. Therefore, he or she will be referred to as "Suspect." 8 Agent Medlin thought at this time that the entry was a waste of time and that securing the second floor was just to be thorough.

Because the stairs had been removed, they sent Officer Liles up to the second floor. On reaching the second floor and approaching the upstairs room with a closed door, Officer Liles asked for another officer to join him. Officer Watson went up to the second floor to assist. Agent Medlin remained on the ground floor and provided cover by pointing his firearm at the wall to the right of the door that led into the room. He observed Officer Liles knock and notice the room. When Officer Liles received no response, he pushed the door open. Officer Liles then yelled, "I got bodies! Let me see your hands. Let me see your hands." Then there was a loud "boom!" and Officer Liles moved back and began shooting. Because he saw Officer Liles flinch, Agent Medlin thought Officer Liles was shot. Fearing that whoever had shot Officer Liles might begin to shoot through the wall at him, he began shooting through the wall9 to the right of the door where he thought the shot came from and towards where Officer Liles was shooting. He shot several shots and had a misfire. After his gun misfired, he retreated to a wall for cover, conducted a tap and rap drill and returned to his firing point. By that time, Sgt Hislop and others were yelling, "Hold fire. Hold fire." There was a lot of yelling at that time like, "are you okay?" "Is anyone hit?" and Agent Medlin yelled up to Officer Liles, "Are you okay?" He then saw Officer Liles still dealing with the subjects in the room, challenging them. Shortly after that he saw Officer Liles hand a subject over to Officer Watson while pointing his sidearm into the room. He observed Officer Watson handcuff the standing suspect. While this was going on, Agent Medlin yelled at Sgt Hislop, who was on the radio requesting assistance that they needed to back out and lock down the building and call SWAT. He also told Sgt Hislop he needed more ammo and, after receiving permission to do so, he exited the building to obtain more ammo. Only after the shooting stopped and some normalcy was obtained did Agent Medlin become aware that none of the officers were injured. Summarized Statement of Detective Marvin Kirkpatrick Before entering the Albee Street residence, they yelled into the residence many times. Then, not gaining entrance, Sgt Hislop had Agent Medlin to kick in the door. After several attempts, the door was kicked in and they entered the residence. On entering the residence the officers cleared the first floor of the residence. After clearing the first floor, they noticed that the stairs had been removed. However, it was decided that they should clear the second floor as well. Officer Liles and Watson climbed up to the second floor where there was a closed door. They yelled "Police" numerous times and demanded whoever was in the room to come out. After that, one of them pushed open the door. He heard Officer Liles yell there were two in the room and something like "put your hands up!" Then he saw a blight flash come from inside the room towards officers Liles and Watson and heard the blast. At that point he thought that Liles and/or Watson might have been shot or were being shot at and they had no place to go as they were isolated on the second floor without stairs to escape down. He was on the first floor and could see what he believed was a silhouette from where the flash came from so began to give covering fire by firing five or six times into the room at where he saw the silhouette. He heard Agent Medlin firing to his right.

9

Agent Medlin thought Officer Liles had been shot and realized that the wall was made of dry wall and he could shoot through it.

After the shooting stopped he took the magazine out of his sidearm and put in a loaded magazine, in case he needed to continue. Then he heard Officer Liles or Watson say they had one down and a second suspect in the room. He and Sgt Hislop then climbed up to the second floor where they observed the suspect in handcuffs and Cooke lying face down. When they rolled Cooke over they saw a camo sawed-off shotgun under his chest area. He advised all the other officers to back out of the room and not to touch anything, stating that he did not want any of the evidence disturbed. Officer Medlin remained on the ground floor and provided cover by pointing his firearm at the wall to the right of the door that led into the room. Crime Scene/Forensic Evidence10 The Albee Street residence was a two-story uninhabited dwelling in a gutted condition with none of the usual fixtures such as lights, counters, sinks, etc., found in a furnished house. All of the windows on the lower floor were covered with boards and/or cloth. The post-shooting inspection of the walls and ceilings of the kitchen, living room, and parlor/storage room did not reveal any bullet holes, except for a grouping of six holes in the dry wall in the northeast corner of the north wall of the living room, above the stair well. The bedroom with Cooke's body shared this particular wall. Each of the cartridge cases discovered in the utility room, dining room, and living room as well as the striker plate and screws from the utility room doorjamb, were marked with evidence numbers as they were discovered. The location of where evidence was located was documented by photographs and by a rough sketch of the first floor rooms prepared with the location of the evidence recorded using the two-reference point method. The dimensions of the rooms were measured for preparation of a scaled drawing. After initial documentation, the evidence was picked up and packaged. The second floor of the residence was missing stairs. Therefore, access to the second floor was gained by utilizing a ladder provided by the Eureka Fire Department. Two attic bedrooms were present on the second floor. They were located along the south and east of the stairwell. Both of these were open space. A third bedroom, with conventional walls and doorway was present to the north of the stairwell. Cooke's body was on a near ground level futon in this bedroom. All upstairs windows were completely or partially covered. Bullet holes were only found in the southwest corner and in the north wall of Cooke's bedroom. Each of the cartridge cases discovered in the east and south bedrooms were marked with an evidence number as they were discovered. The location of the evidence was documented as to the location in which they were discovered by photography and in a rough sketch of the second floor rooms prepared with the location of the evidence recorded using the two-reference point method. The dimensions of the rooms were measured for preparation of a scaled drawing. After initial documentation, the evidence was picked up and collected.

10

The crime scene/forensic evidence investigation was performed by California Department of Justice.

The north bedroom contained a wooden futon frame in the northwest corner of the room. A number of sleeping bags and blankets were on top of the futon to create a bed. Cooke's body was present on the bed. His body was face down with his head directed toward the northwest and his feet pointing toward the southeast. His hands were cuffed behind his back. Cookes' body was fully clothed. A short-barrelled Mossburg pump-action 12 GA shotgun was the stock modified to a pistol grip was found on the floor next to the futon, just to the right of Cooke's body. On the floor between the edge of the futon and the north wall, near the location of Cooke's head, was discovered a Ruger New Model Blackhawk six-shot single action revolver chambered for .357 Magnum cartridges. The handgun was hidden under the bedding. Numerous shot pellets were observed in various locations in the north bedroom floor.11 A large number of these pellets, and plastic shot shell wadding were found in the southeast corner of the bedroom. Two pellets were observed embedded in the east wall, near the southeast corner of the room. A rectangular-shaped bookcase was located between the futon and the southeast corner of the room with the left side facing the futon. On oblong hole, consistent with having been made by a shotgun discharge, was present in the left side panel of the bookshelf. The hole was located approximately three feet above the floor. The holes had an upward angle, a conclusion supported by the orientation of the hole and because the shelf above the hole in the side panel had been shattered by the discharge as it exited the side panel. Only two shot pellets from the discharge were observed to impact the wall behind the bookcase with sufficient force to penetrate the drywall. Wood splinters, consistent with the color and appearance of the wood comprising the bookcase were found in this corner of the room as well. The conclusion drawn from the above was that the shooter was not standing when the shotgun was discharged and the discharge was upward in the direction of the southeast wall of the bedroom. Bullet holes were observed in a sleeping bag located in the room with pulled tufts of white insulation fibers out the exit holes. A hole in the back of the denim shorts had a tuft of similar fibers partially protruding from the bullet hole. This led to the conclusion that Cook was under or partially underneath the sleeping bag, in a sitting or near prone position when he was shot. He was not facing the doorway when he was shot. After evidence in the room was photographed and collected, the position of Cooke's body was documented using the two-point reference technique. The coroner's office arrived and removed his body so the Department of Justice criminalist could finish processing the scene. The bedding and personal effects within the room were examined. They also located bullet holes, collected bullets that were not embedded, and took additional photographs. Examination of the Mossburg shotgun revealed that the safety was off and there was a fired 3-1/2 inch 12 GA shotgun shell with a high brass shell case and two unfired shells in the tubular magazine. Markings on the shell tube indicated that it contained size "T" steel shot. All six chambers of the Ruger contained cartridges. Bullets holes in, or into, Cooke's bedroom were segregated in definite locations from where they were fired. A cluster of bullet holes entered the drywall into the room above the stairwell. Four of the bullets penetrated the wall and struck the ceiling approximately the center of the room. Three of those bullets were removed from the drywall. The fourth was located on top of one of the slates of the futon. It was believed to have ended up there after falling out of the ceiling after exhausting its energy.12

Forty-nine steel shot pellets were collected in the second floor north bedroom where Cooke's body was found. Five of these were measured as a representative sampling and they all had a diameter consistent with size T shot. 12 Agent Medlin's shots.

11

Several bullet holes were clustered in the upper window and upper window frame located behind the futon. At least four of these went through and through. One bullet was recovered from one of the holes.13 Several bullet holes were present in the windowsill and below it in the wall. At least five of them were through and through bullet paths. At least three of these struck the house next door. One of the bullets was recovered from a sun porch. The bullet was found partially penetrating the hose of a vacuum cleaner located in the sunroom. Several apparent bullet impact sites did not penetrate far, and it appeared the bullets struck and dropped to the floor or struck and were diverted due to the rather low degree of energy. It was opined that the bullets' energy was depleted by passing through intervening targets.14 The angles of entry, and in some cases, exit and reentry, were projected back to the floor or wall to depict the approximate location of the shooter who fired the particular shot. Based on the trajectory and subsequent testing, it was concluded that one grouping of bullets come from Agent Medlin shooting from the first floor in the approximate vicinity of the doorway between the dining room and living room. The second grouping came from Detective Kirkpatrick shooting from the first floor living room, passing through the openings of the stairwell and doorway into Cooke's bedroom and into the upper windowpane and the north wall of the window. The third group of bullet holes came from Officer Liles who was shooting from the second floor of the residence in the approximate vicinity of the south bedroom and doorway, into Cooke's bedroom.15 Injuries The pathologist found Cooke's body to contain 11 gunshot wounds. Gunshot wound # 1 was to the right lateral chest traveling upward and slightly forward, without significant lateral deviation. Gunshot wound # 2 was to the right upper buttock traveling upward, right to left and back to front. Gunshot # 3 was to the right upper buttocks traveling upward and right to left without significant front/back deviation. Gunshot wound # 4 was to the left lower buttocks traveling upward, back to front and left to right. Gunshot wound # 5 was to the right upper arm traveling back to front, upward and right to left. Gunshot # 6 was to the right thumb. Gunshot # 7 was to the left thumb. Gunshot # 8 was to the right distal thigh traveling back to front, upward and to the right. Gunshot # 10 was to the left knee traveling front to back, upward and slightly to the left. Gunshot # 11 was to the left distal thigh traveling upward, slightly back to front and slightly right to left. Coroner results The cause of death of Cooke was multiple gunshot wounds. Cooke's blood, sent off for testing, indicated that, at the time of death, contained .066 mg/L of methamphetamine. CONCLUSION Police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation. California law permits the use of deadly force in self-defense or in defense of others if it reasonably appears necessary to the person claiming the right to self-defense or the defense of others that he actually and reasonably believed he or others were in imminent danger of great bodily injury or death. In protecting themselves or others, a person may use all force that he believes reasonably necessary and which would appear to a reasonable person, in the same or

13 14

Detective Kirkpatrick's shots. Officer Liles' shots. 15 It was concluded that Officer Liles was the only of the three officers likely to have shot Cooke.

similar circumstances, to be necessary to prevent injury that appears to be imminent. Finally, when peril is swift and imminent and the necessity of action immediate, the law does not weigh into nice scales the conduct of the assailed and say he shall not be justified in the killing because he might have resorted to other means to secure his safety. Compelling evidence establishes that Officers Liles, Watson, Agent Medlin and Deputy Kirkpatrick, were presented with a situation that actually and reasonably appeared to be a life-threatening situation to some or all of them. In fear for their lives and the lives of others, and forced to make split second decisions because of the nature of the circumstances and locations of the respective parties, they fired several rounds at Cooke ending the threat posed by Cooke by his death. The fact that Cooke fired or misfired into the room and not at the officers does not change the conclusion that the officers were acting under the belief that Cooke was firing at Officer Liles and/or Officer Watson. Concededly, if it was an accidental misfire, Cooke's death is a tragic but relatively foreseeable conclusion to activity that Cooke was engaged in. Under these circumstances, Officers Liles, Watson, Agent Medlin and Agent Medlin acted lawfully and in selfdefense and the use of deadly force was reasonable and justified. Accordingly, we are closing our file in this matter and no further action will be taken. A copy of this letter, along with the materials submitted for our review will be retained in our files. Sincerely,

Paul V. Gallegos District Attorney

Information

11 pages

Report File (DMCA)

Our content is added by our users. We aim to remove reported files within 1 working day. Please use this link to notify us:

Report this file as copyright or inappropriate

44874


You might also be interested in

BETA
Microsoft Word - POLICE CODE OF CONDUCT.DOC
Microsoft Word - Torts Walsh.doc
PUBLIC LAW 108-495 [S
QUICK REFERENCE CHART FOR DETERMINING