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Family of slain Paso Robles man shot by deputies responds to video of shooting

Posted at 10:30 AM, Apr 14, 2019

The family of the Paso Robles man who was shot and killed by San Luis Obispo County sheriff deputies in 2017 slammed law enforcement in response to the video of the shooting released on Friday.

Josue Gallardo, 34, of Paso Robles, was shot and killed by deputies along Highway 101 in Atascadero in what was later determined by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office to be a justifiable shooting under the law.

Josue Gallardo (Photo: Facebook)
Josue Gallardo (Photo: Facebook)

The video just released Friday night by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office was recorded by the deputies’ dash camera. The January 24, 2017 incident, including the actions of the deputies immediately after the shooting, are at the heart of a lawsuit filed late last year by Gallardo’s family.

The attorney for Frances Gallardo, Josue’s wife, released a statement Saturday morning:

“Josh was a loving father and a valued member of his community. Reports suggesting that he was suicidal miss the point: law enforcement officers do not get to kill suicidal people and need to be properly trained to deal with this common mental health scenario. Oftentimes the facts that are known at a case’s inception are not always the facts we ultimately know by the time the case comes before a jury. We intend to aggressively litigate this case, shedding light on the problematic professional pasts of these officers and the clear unconstitutional killing of Josh. We intend to demonstrate in court that the narrative County officials continue to push is not only self-serving but unsupported by the evidence in this case. Josh’s death was a tragedy for his family and we hope future news coverage is respectful and avoids rumor-mongering and victim-blaming.”

Dramatic law enforcement dash cam video released

The video shows deputies approaching a vehicle pulled over near the Santa Barbara Road exit on Highway 101 with their guns in their hands.

One deputy approaches the vehicle from the driver’s side and another approaches from the passenger side.

After a brief verbal exchange, Gallardo appears to put both his hands out the open window of his car. The deputy then says “I don’t want to kill you. I don’t know you.” He then requests Gallardo get out of the car and lie on the ground.

Another quick conversation ensues and the deputy then states, “Do you have a gun, yes or no?” Gallardo’s response is unclear, but the deputy again asks if he has a gun. That conversation, according to a sheriff’s office report, was, “I want you to shoot me” and “I want you to kill me.”

Shortly after, Gallardo appears to partially open the driver’s side door, and the deputy on the passenger side shoots into the vehicle.

Both deputies then opened fire into the vehicle. In a report released in February by the District Attorney’s Office, it was later determined 35 shots were fired into the car.

The report also stated Gallardo had made several suicidal remarks and was abusing cocaine prior to his death.

The report, dated June 9, 2017, and addressed to San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson, details multiple accounts where Josue Gallardo mentioned he was going to kill himself prior to the officer-involved shooting where he reportedly pulled a BB gun on deputies.

The alleged BB gun is not visible on the video released Friday night. The incident took place just after midnight.

The video shows the officers retreated from the vehicle after the shooting stating, “let’s back up and have him crawl out to us, okay? At this point, whether he’s alive or not I don’t know, but let’s just back off.” The video ends before backup arrives, but at that point, the report says they all re-approached the car and found Gallardo dead inside.

The video can be viewed below. WARNING: the video does contain graphic content.

The law sparking change

Senate Bill 1421 went into effect on January 1, 2019, spurring lawsuits and much debate across the state of California. The law was created to open the view into some of the most restrictive protections of law enforcement personnel records in the country.

The law requires law enforcement agencies to provide records upon request of internal investigations into officer-involved shootings, severe uses of force, confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying by officers.

KSBY News, along with many other news organizations, filed public records requests after the law went into effect.

In some cases for KSBY and with media organizations across the state, those requests were denied as legal doubt exists as to whether the law applies retroactively to all cases. A recent appeals court ruling on a case in Los Angeles states the law should be applied retroactively.

The most well-known case on the Central Coast involving SB 1421 is the case of former Paso Robles Police Sergeant Christopher McGuire who was accused of sexual assault but never charged with any crime.

During investigations of this highly publicized case, KSBY News and the San Luis Obispo Tribune uncovered a ‘loophole’ in the law involving McGuire. SLO County and the Paso Robles Police Department denied our request for McGuire’s records citing the lack of a ‘sustained finding.’

Central Coast Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham says he is actively working to close the ‘loophole’ surrounding cases without a sustained finding.

Lawsuit pending in the Gallardo Case

A lawsuit filed last November on behalf of Gallardo’s wife, Frances, and two children, claims wrongful detention and excessive force was used against Gallardo, violating his constitutional civil rights. It goes on to say that both deputies involved “knew Mr. Gallardo was a non-violent individual who was battling depression and suicidal ideation for some time.”

The lawsuit makes no mention of whether Gallardo had a gun or pointed it at deputies during the traffic stop. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office ruled the shooting justifiable and said it would not be taking further action.

The DA’s office says it does not address issues of civil liability, tactics, or departmental policies or procedures.

“It seems likely that Josue Gallardo’s suicidal mental state was at least aggravated, if not caused by, his abuse of cocaine,” the report states.

It goes on to say, Gallardo, who had reportedly had a warrant out for his arrest, had been upset prior to his death, saying his wife had cheated on him. He had also reportedly lost the job he had for 14 years and had made two suicidal comments on his Facebook page in the weeks leading up to his death.

On Jan. 20, 2017, a week before he died, the report says Gallardo checked into the Carlton Hotel in Atascadero. The hotel associate and front desk manager reportedly had several interactions with Gallardo between Jan. 20 and Jan. 24, which included Gallardo saying he “couldn’t get over it (his wife cheating on him),” according to the report. It goes on to say one of the employees said Gallardo seemed “really paranoid” and monitored a police scanner in his car.

“By all appearances, Josue Gallardo’s downward spiral into depression and drug use coincides with the end of his relationship with his wife,” the report stated.

At the time of Gallardo’s death, the report says evidence of cocaine use was found in his hotel room, including .34 grams of cocaine in the closet and more in the closet safe.

Packaging and a manual for a “Legends” semiautomatic CO2 BB pistol were also found in the room, according to the report, along with packaging for 1,500 rounds of BBs and CO2 cartridges.

The pistol is the same one the report says was found in Gallardo’s right hand at the time of his death “and is designed and intended by the manufacturer to be an exact replica of a Walther PPK semi-automatic firearm.”