SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) –Three South San Francisco police officers who fatally shot a 59-year-old man armed with a shotgun in May acted lawfully in their use of lethal force, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
John Wayne Eno of South San Francisco was killed in a confrontation with multiple officers when they responded to a call for service from his home in the 3700 block of Cork Place around 11:50 p.m. May 23.
Eno had placed five calls to 911. The first one started out as a report of three individuals “pushing drugs on him” in his house, according to Wagstaffe.
In his third call, Eno told a dispatcher that he’d fired a gun at someone – prompting additional officers to respond to the scene – and at the end of the fifth call officers can be heard shouting “drop the gun” before the sound of gunshots.
Officers Andrew Constantino and Vivian Nguyen were the first to arrive on scene. They had trouble spotting Eno due to darkness and fog on arrival, but they saw him carrying a long-gun in a vertical position.
Constantino yelled at Eno to stop – and shortly after that they both heard him rack a shotgun shell into the chamber.
“Both officers feared for their lives at that time, understanding that the racking of a shotgun enables it to be fired,” Wagstaffe said in a report addressed to the chief of the South San Francisco Police Department.
“Officer Constantino then discharged his weapon four times at the decedent, hoping to disable the decedent before he had the chance to fire his shotgun at the officers,” Wagstaffe wrote.
That’s roughly when officers John Paulo and Daniel Finnegan arrived.
Approaching the scene, Finnegan saw a piece of a windshield wiper that had broken off of a vehicle struck by gunfire. He and other officers believed it was a firearm laying in the street, however, according to Wagstaffe.
Eno then got up and threw a traffic cone, at which time officer Paulo fired a single shot.
Shortly after that Officer Chris Devan arrived.
Due to radio traffic, he was under the impression that Officer Constantino may have been shot.
He heard officers repeatedly shouting at Eno, and Finnegan requesting an officer with a rifle, so he went back to his vehicle to retrieve his SWAT issued patrol rifle.
After walking back towards Eno, Devan heard officers yelling “be careful” and “take cover!”
He saw Eno crouched down between two cars and fired several times, based on his belief that Eno would have shot at officers at the scene.
Paulo thought Eno was firing at officers when he heard Devan’s rifle go off and he fired again as well.
The officers lost sight of Eno but he was later found, unconscious and bleeding. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Eno’s cause of death was determined to be multiple gunshot wounds. He suffered five notable wounds, including a shot fired by Devan’s rifle that went through his upper arm, into his chest cavity and spine. That round would have killed him immediately. He also suffered another gunshot wound that entered his chest cavity, damaging ribs and a lung, as well as a wound to the
There was no alcohol in Eno’s system, but toxicology tests detected the presence of anti-anxiety medication in his blood, and family members told investigators he had been depressed and suffering from anxiety since his wife died two years ago.
A search of the area turned up a 12-gauge shotgun, registered to Eno, with the safety off and a spent shell in the chamber as well as an unfired round in the magazine tube.
The weapon also had a sidesaddle shotshell carrier on the stock containing four additional loaded shells, and another loaded shell was found on the ground nearby.
A search of his home turned up another spent shell in the master bedroom, with evidence of damage from shotgun pellets in the television as well as the wall behind the television, according to Wagstaffe.
Finnegan was the only officer at the scene who was wearing a body camera, and while it recorded audio communications the video did not contain all aspects of the shooting. Paulo had been issued a body camera, but it was charging at the station when he was dispatched to the scene and he didn’t have a chance to grab it.
In total, officers fired 16 rounds. Devan fired nine rounds, Constantino fired four rounds and Paulo fired three rounds.
“Officers Constantino, Paulo and Devan exercised their police powers in a lawful manner against a person who produced a shotgun and racked it as he was facing the officers,” Wagstaffe wrote in his report.
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