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Shooting death of Orcutt bank robbery suspect by deputy was justifiable, DA finds

Posted at 12:14 PM, May 21, 2018

The shooting death of a bank robbery suspect in Orcutt last August by a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputy has been deemed a justifiable homicide by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

The DA’s Office announced Monday the completion of the review into the death of Robert Earl Adams, 30, of Nipomo the morning of August 22, 2017.

According to the report, Adams walked into CoastHills Credit Union on the 1100 block of Clark Avenue just after 9 a.m. that morning and, armed with a kitchen knife, told employees he was robbing them and demanded money.

The DA’s Office says Adams was given $1,000 in cash and left.

A customer who reportedly walked into the bank and witnessed the robbery was able to call 911 and report the incident, the report states. The caller followed the suspect at a distance onto South Bradley Road where a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputy then located him.

The report states the deputy stopped his patrol car next to the sidewalk and behind the suspect.

"As the deputy got out of his car, Adams quickly walked toward him with the knife in his raised hand." the report states.

Despite orders to put the knife down, according to the report, Adams continued toward the deputy. 

One witness described the knife as being "very close" to the deputy. Another reportedly estimated the distance at three feet.

The deputy then fired three shots, hitting Adams twice in the chest and once in his forearm, which was said to be raised, according to the report, which states life-saving measures were performed on Adams, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

The report says 10 $100 bills were found in Adams’ wallet.

Officials said Adams was involved in other incidents the night before the robbery, including robbery/auto theft at the group home where he had been staying and also assault with a deadly weapon.

Adams’ autopsy listed his cause and manner of death as a homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds. 

To read the full report, click here