The four police officers who fatally shot an unarmed man after a long standoff on a Santa Ana street will face no criminal charges because the use of force was justified, the state’s Department of Justice said Wednesday in releasing a report on the incident.
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Brandon Lopez, 34, was killed on Sept. 28, 2021, by Anaheim police officers who pursued him after he had allegedly driven off in a car belonging to his girlfriend’s sister.
The report on the death was required by a California law that says the state must investigate any shooting by a law enforcement officer that kills a person who is not carrying a deadly weapon. Lopez’s is the fourth death to be investigated since the law went into effect, in July 2021; 44 other cases remain on the list.
The fatal shooting occurred when Lopez emerged from the car after a four-hour standoff. As he had been tailed by Anaheim officers, the car got stuck on trolley tracks in a construction zone, and Lopez remained inside it, resisting instructions to come out.
Finally flushed from the car by a chemical agent, Lopez reportedly began to run toward officers. One of them yelled “gun, gun, gun!” and four opened fire. Lopez was struck by at least 15 bullets, the report said.
No weapon was found on or near Lopez’s body. He had apparently been holding a water bottle in a black drawstring bag.
The report determined the use of deadly force to be justified, saying: “All four officers fired their firearms based on their belief that they needed to stop Mr. Lopez from shooting his firearm and potentially killing or injuring police officers or bystanders.”
The three previous reports under AB 1506 also declared that criminal charges were not warranted. Those cases were:
• A man who was brandishing a knife and a butane lighter and shouting at people on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
• A man killed by a stray police bullet in the driveway of his home in Guadalupe.
• A man who fought with a California Highway Patrol officer who responded to a car crash in Los Angeles County.