Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley announced Wednesday that her office has filed the charge against San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher in the killing of Steven Taylor on April 18.
Taylor was shot and killed by San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher on April 18. Body-cam footage released by the department shows Taylor holding a bat, inside of a local Walmart.
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Early reports said San Leandro police were initially dispatched to the store after getting a report of a robbery. Officers found no signs of theft taking place when they arrived on the scene. Instead, officers reported encountering Taylor, swinging a baseball bat near the entrance inside the store.
Fletcher did not wait for backup and instead grabbed the bat from Taylor, shot him with a taser and then with a firearm all in less than 40 seconds, prosecutors said. The video also shows the moment an officer fired at the 33-year-old.
Fletcher, a 20-year veteran was placed on administrative leave since the shooting in April, officials say.
"A thorough review of the statements of witnesses and involved police officers, physical evidence and the review of multiple videos of the shooting shows that at the time of the shooting it was not reasonable to conclude Mr. Taylor posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to Officer Fletcher or to anyone else in the store," O'Malley said. "I believe Officer Fletcher's actions, coupled with his failure to attempt other de-escalation options rendered his use of deadly force unreasonable and a violation of Penal Code Section 192(a), Voluntary Manslaughter.''
O'Malley said in a release, "The work of police officers is critical to the health, safety and well-being of our communities. Their job is one of the most demanding in our society, especially in these current challenging times. They are sworn to uphold and enforce the laws.
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In a statement, San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor said:
"As the Police Chief of San Leandro, I know the loss of Steven Taylor has deeply affected this community. Today, the District Attorney has charged Officer Jason Fletcher with voluntary manslaughter. It is important that we allow the judicial process to take its course. I will refer all questions to the District Attorney's Office."
Officer Fletcher's attorney Michael Rains countered that his client feared for his life and defended himself, as Taylor had a baseball bat at the time of the shooting.
"You know the law doesn't require officers, even in today's day and age, to have their brains bashed out with a lethal instrument, which a baseball bat is," says Rains.
Family members say of Taylor say he was homeless at the time, and may have been having a mental episode, but believe he could have been talked down. Friends of the family say while they would have liked murder charges for the officer, but at least this is something.
"At the end of the day we're very happy with what it is to me it's just sad that black people have to settle."
ABC7 NEws reached out to his mother and grandmother. They deferred comment to their lawyer who says,
"The family of Steven Taylor is encouraged by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office decision to move forward with the criminal prosecution of Officer Jason Fletcher for voluntary manslaughter. Mr. Taylor was suffering a mental health crisis and did not represent a threat to officers or the general public before being tazed and shot to death. Although this is an important first step in seeking justice, the family is eager to see Fletcher convicted and appropriately sentenced for the unjustified shooting death of Mr. Taylor." -Lee Merritt, Esquire
Fletcher is expected to be arraigned Sept. 15.