Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas has published a letter containing the investigation findings and legal conclusions regarding the Garden Grove Police Department’s fatal officer-involved shooting of Shawn Pettus.
The full letter, “OCDA Report Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation – Shawn Pettus,” is available at www.orangecountyda.org by selecting Officer-Involved Shootings and Custodial Death Letters under the Reports pull-down menu.
This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Below are selected excerpts from the OCDA letter.
The facts in this case are determined by considering both Officer Pham and Officer Doyle’s statements to the OCDA investigators, which were supplemented by other relevant material and witnesses present during the incident.
The issue is whether the conduct of Officer Pham and Officer Doyle on March 11, 2018, was criminally culpable and without justification. […]
It is clear based on the totality of the available evidence here that Officer Pham and Officer Doyle were justified in believing Pettus posed a significant threat of death or serious injury to both officers. This conclusion is based on the totality of the circumstances, but mainly based on the conduct of Pettus in the moments leading up to the shooting. […]
Officer Doyle and Officer Pham’s actions were reasonable in light of the unfolding dangerous situation as Pettus would not comply with numerous commands to place his hands where officers could see them and instead turned on the Accord and started to revers. After running over Officer Pham, Pettus nearly pinned Officer Pham against the black SUV, and when Officer Pham escaped it was only to be further placed in harm’s way at the front of the Accord. It is clearly reasonable that Officer Pham believed his life was in danger when he was trapped in between a wall and the front of the Accord, causing him to fire his weapon. In addition, Officer Doyle also reasonably believed his partner’s life to be in danger. Officer Doyle and Officer Pham’s belief that it was necessary to employ deadly force to stop this threat was therefore reasonable under the circumstances.