SFDA RELEASES SUMMARIES OF INVESTIGATION, LEGAL ANALYSES AND CHARGING DECISIONS IN THREE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INCIDENTS AND AN IN-CUSTODY DEATH

 

Logo

News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 11, 2017

Twitter: @GeorgeGascon

CONTACT:     ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931         |        MAX SZABO (415) 553-9089

 

SFDA RELEASES SUMMARIES OF INVESTIGATION, LEGAL ANALYSES AND CHARGING DECISIONS IN THREE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INCIDENTS AND AN IN-CUSTODY DEATH

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office (SFDA) Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) released the summaries of investigation, legal analyses and charging decisions related to three officer involved shooting (OIS) incidents and one in-custody death. 

 

The attached documents reflect SFDA’s commitment to the community that investigations and charging decisions are conducted with transparency.  SFDA’s reviews of use of force incidents are conducted by the office’s Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB).  They focus exclusively on determining whether criminal charges relating to the officers’ conduct are warranted.  IIB’s reviews do not examine issues such as officers’ compliance with their agency’s policies and procedures, their training or tactics, or any issues related to civil liability.  These reports should not be interpreted as expressing any opinions on such non-criminal matters.

 

OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING OF NOTORIOUS DICKERSON ON OCTOBER 25, 2016

 

The SFDA’s Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) has completed its review of the officer-involved shooting resulting in injury of Notorious Dickerson. In brief, on October 25, 2016, at approximately 3:05 p.m., Daly City Police Department (DCPD) Officers William Tone, Star No. 159, and Tyrell Clinkscales, Star No. 245, notified the San Mateo County Vehicle Theft Taskforce (SMCVTTF) of a stolen car they had located.  Agent Sapien along with three other taskforce agents, Agent Sarabia, Agent Brown, and Agent Donald McCarthy, a DCPD officer, Star No. 190, responded to the 200 block of Montana Street, in separate unmarked police vehicles.  Within moments of the agents arriving on scene and establishing perimeter surveillance points, Notorious Dickerson entered the stolen Honda alone and drove eastbound on Montana Street. In an effort to block Dickerson’s escape routes, Agents Sarabia, Brown and McCarthy headed west on Montana Street, while Agent Sapien approached from the east and trailed behind an unrelated vehicle driven by an unrelated civilian witness.

 

Agent Sarabia initiated an enforcement stop and pulled his vehicle directly in front of Dickerson. According to Agent Sarabia, Dickerson looked directly at him, raised his hands while still inside the vehicle, but lowered them moments later. Dickerson then turned the wheels and accelerated the Honda in Agent Sarabia’s direction, knocking Agent Sarabia to the ground. Agent Sarabia got up from the ground and Dickerson continued to drive at him.  Fearing for his life, Agent Sarabia shot at Dickerson through the windshield.

 

Agent Brown was in the process of getting out of his vehicle with his gun drawn when he saw Dickerson drive at and strike Agent Sarabia with the Honda, while attempting to escape. After witnessing Dickerson’s actions and fearing Dickerson was now driving towards him in an effort to escape, Agent Brown fired multiple rounds from his 9 mm handgun at Dickerson, before Dickerson struck Agent Brown’s vehicle and collided into the residence at 245 Montana Street.

 

Dickerson suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his upper torso area and laid wounded in the driver’s seat before he was extricated by DCPD officers and provided with emergency medical care. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) for medical treatment. Agent Sarabia suffered injuries to his head and left elbow. Dickerson was subsequently arrested and refused to provide a statement after invoking his Miranda rights. 

 

As described further in the attached report, the District Attorney declines to pursue criminal charges against the SMCVTTF agents relating to this incident because we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their actions were not reasonably taken in defense of themselves and others.

 

FATAL OFFCER-INVOLVED SHOOTING OF JAVIER LOPEZ GARCIA ON NOVEMBER 11, 2015

 

The SFDA’s Independent Investigations Bureau (IIB) has completed its review of the officer-involved shooting that led to the death of Javier Lopez Garcia.  In brief, on the afternoon of November 11, 2015, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers were dispatched to a construction site at St. Luke’s Hospital in response to a 911 call about a man with two guns. Upon arrival, officers observed a man, later identified as Javier Lopez Garcia, standing atop a construction lift at the sixth floor of the construction site. Lopez Garcia had a long gun in his hands, and appeared to be scanning around, pointing the barrel of the gun from side-to-side. Several officers commanded Lopez Garcia to drop the weapon. Instead he appeared to point the gun down toward some of the officers. In fear for their lives and the lives of others around the construction site, three officers—Officer Jeffrey Camilosa (Star No. 4244); Officer Andres Garza (Star No. 4253); and Sergeant Jeffrey Aloise (Star No. 1303) fired their weapons at Lopez Garcia, killing him.

 

SFPD later learned that the long gun Lopez Garcia was brandishing was a shotgun he acquired by robbing a San Bruno sporting goods store. During the robbery, he told employees of the store that he was “suicidal” and “not afraid to get shot.” SFPD also learned later that Lopez Garcia had told several construction workers he encountered at the site that he was “suicidal” and “ready to die.” IIB learned later that Lopez Garcia had recorded videos on his cellphone stating the same. For the reasons detailed in the attached report, the District Attorney declines to pursue criminal charges against any of the SFPD officers relating to their conduct in this matter because the officers’ actions were legally justified as they reasonably acted in self-defense and in defense of others.

 

FATAL OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING OF HERBERT OMAR BENITEZ ON OCTOBER 15, 2015

 

The SFDA’s Independent Investigations Bureau has completed its review of the officer-involved shooting that led to the death of Herbert Omar Benitez.  In brief, the investigation revealed that SFPD Sergeants Joseph McCloskey (Star No. 2151) and Michael Koniaris (Star No. 1919) were flagged down by construction workers complaining about Benitez breaking glass bottles near their worksite. When the SFPD Sergeants spoke with Benitez, they detained him and tried to get him to sit down on the sidewalk. Benitez physically resisted and attacked the officers, falling on top of Sergeant McCloskey. Sergeant Koniaris fell on Benitez’s back. During the struggle, Benitez pulled Sergeant McCloskey’s gun from his holster and pointed it at the Sergeant McCloskey’s head. Sergeant McCloskey was able to grab the gun’s slide and was struggling to keep the gun away from his face as he yelled that Benitez had his gun. In response, Sergeant Koniaris shot Benitez twice during the struggle. As detailed in the attached report, the available evidence supports the conclusion that Sergeants Koniaris’s actions were taken in defense of another individual. The District Attorney, therefore, declines to pursue criminal charges in this matter.

 

IN-CUSTODY DEATH OF ALBERTO CARLOS PETROLINO ON JULY 28, 2015

 

The SFDA’s Independent Investigations Bureau has completed its review of the in-custody death of Alberto Carlos Petrolino.  In brief, on Saturday, July 25, 2015, Golden Gate Communications Center (GGCC) broadcast a lookout for a male subject who was possibly on the Golden Gate Bridge with intentions to commit suicide.  Petrolino’s ex-girlfriend had called GGCC to inform them that Petrolino left her a voice message implying that he was going to commit suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge.  California Highway Patrol encountered Petrolino sleeping on a bench at the East Lot of the bridge and detained him.  CHP Officer Daniel Mitchell responded and interviewed Petrolino.  Petrolino repeatedly denied being suicidal. He told them that his ex-girlfriend knew he had been released from jail and that she was trying to get him in trouble. 

 

Officer Mitchell did not believe he had cause to detain Petrolino for a mental health evaluation under California Welfare and Institutions Code § 5150, but arrested Petrolino on two outstanding misdemeanor arrest warrants for failures to appear in court and transported him to the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department (SFSD) County Jail.  During booking, Officer Mitchell discussed the possibility of Petrolino being suicidal with the SFSD intake nurse, who subsequently conducted an intake screening of Petrolino. In response to questions during the intake screening, Petrolino denied being suicidal. A separate nurse conducted a Jail Psychiatric Services Screen of Petrolino. Petrolino was accepted and booked by county jail staff. 

 

Three days later, on Tuesday, July 28, 2017, at 7:35 p.m. in SFSD County Jail Building No. 2, an inmate entered a restroom and saw Petrolino’s feet laying at an odd angle in a closed shower stall.  He immediately exited the restroom and notified SFSD Deputies Michael Mohn, Star No. 1395, and Rudy Zamora, Star No. 2069.  Upon arrival, Deputies Mohn and Zamora, along with a nurse, found Petrolino in a locked shower stall. He was hanging from a torn bedsheet wrapped around his neck with his feet still on the ground. Deputy Mohn forced open the door and lifted Petrolino’s body so Deputy Zamora could use his safety hook to cut the noose. The trio initiated Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), attached an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and made a radio broadcast of a medical emergency requiring paramedics.  Paramedics responded, but ultimately pronounced Petrolino dead at 8:15 P.M. 

 

The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office deemed the death a suicide by self-inflicted hanging.  Because Mr. Petrolino’s death stemmed from a suicide by self-inflicted hanging and there is no allegation or evidence of any type of use of force or other criminal conduct at all in this matter, IIB has closed its investigation and concluded that criminal charges are unwarranted. 

 

All three Officer Involved Shooting reports and our letter regarding the In-Custody Death are available on the SFDA website at: http://sfdistrictattorney.org/officer-involved-shooting-investigations