PITTSBURG (CBS SF) — The fatal police shooting of a suspect in Pittsburg in 2018 following a standoff has been ruled legally justified in a report from the district attorney’s office issued Monday.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office issued a public report concluding that the shooting of Salvador Morales by Officer Kyle Baker, Sgt. Gabriel Palma, Sgt. William Hatcher, Sgt. Charles Blazer and Corporal Alex McCray was a lawful response to the circumstances of the standoff at his home.
According to police, on October 22, 2018, Morales held his estranged wife and baby son hostage at gunpoint and shot his brother-in-law in the neck when he tried to intervene. He then forced his wife and son into a car and drove away, leading police on a chase to Concord and back to his home in Pittsburg.
Officers negotiated with Morales for over two hours in an effort to get him to surrender. Twice, during the standoff, he walked out of the home pointing a handgun at his head, police said. Eventually, an officer fired a beanbag round at Morales to force him to surrender. After getting hit with the beanbag, Morales raised his gun and fired a round at officers, who immediately opened fire in return, killing him.
The district attorney’s office said the report on the shooting is the first under a new policy for any officer-involved shooting that results in a fatality if the DA’s office does not file criminal charges against an officer.
According to the report, the DA’s office determined that under the circumstances, a reasonable juror would not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers were not justified in using deadly force.
“Moreover, had any of the officers waited to take action, the consequences of such inaction could have resulted in any of their deaths,” the report said. “Given the totality of the circumstances, the officers [sic] belief that their safety and the safety of their fellow officers was in imminent danger of death or great bodily injury was more than reasonable.”
The shooting was jointly investigated by Pittsburg police and the district attorney’s office.
Immediately following the shooting, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton enacted a Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incidents Protocol to investigate incidents when officers or civilians are shot or die during an encounter with law enforcement in order to determine criminal liability.