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DA finds officer-involved shooting in Santa Maria was justified

Posted at 4:03 PM, Nov 15, 2019

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office has determined that a 2018 officer-involved shooting in Santa Maria was justified.

Alejandro Valdez, 27, was killed in the shooting when police say he advanced on them with two large knives.

A public report released by the DA's Office Friday details the incident.

It says that on the early evening of Jan. 7, 2018, officers responded to an apartment on the 400 block of Mill Street after two 911 calls. One of those calls was from Valdez's brother who said Valdez was holding his family hostage and acting violently. The other call was made by Valdez's mother. According to the report, Valdez took the phone from his mother and spent about 30 minutes on the line with the dispatcher, claiming he had multiple knives, making suicidal statements, and threatening his family.

After those 30 minutes, the report says Valdez ran down the stairs of his apartment building while holding two eight-inch kitchen knives. He was met in front of the building by officers who ordered him to drop the knives, but Valdez reportedly ran to a courtyard at the back of the building where other officers were waiting.

According to the report, the officers again ordered Valdez to drop the knives. When he did not, one of the officers fired a less-lethal 40-millimeter foam baton at Valdez, but it had no effect on him.

The report says Valdez rushed toward the officers who were blocked in by the courtyard walls and they shot him.

A coroner's report found that Valdez suffered 19 gunshot wounds and four graze wounds. His blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of his death was found to be 0.149.

The DA's report concludes that Valdez's actions "created a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury" in the officers' minds and that they "each acted reasonably in their use of deadly force."