On Wednesday, a California police officer was charged with manslaughter several months after shooting a man holding a baseball bat in a Walmart, the Alameda County District Attorney said.
San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher shot and killed 33-year-old Steven Demarco Taylor in April, officials said. Taylor was allegedly “attempting to steal from the store and waving a baseball bat in a threatening way,” McClatchy News previously reported.
“The decision to file the criminal complaint was made after an intensive investigation and thorough analysis of the evidence and the current law,” District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in the news 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.”
San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor told ABC7 that the loss of Taylor has “deeply affected the community.
“Today, the District Attorney has charged Officer Jason Fletcher with voluntary manslaughter,” Tudor told the news outlet. “It is important that we allow the judicial process to take its course.”
Fletcher has been on “administrative leave since the shooting,” according to ABC7.
Body cam footage shows two officers approaching Taylor near the entrance of the Walmart, McClatchy News reported. He walked toward the officers with the baseball bat, and one officer discharged a Taser.
Fletcher then fired his gun at Taylor, striking him in the “upper torso,” according to McClatchy News.
“Mr. Taylor was struggling to remain standing as he pointed the bat at the ground,” the news release said. “Mr. Taylor posed no threat of imminent deadly force or serious bodily injury to defendant Fletcher or anyone else in the store. Defendant Fletcher shot Mr. Taylor in the chest just as backup Officer Overton arrived in the store.”
Taylor fell to the ground and was later pronounced dead, the district attorney said.
“From the time Officer Fletcher entered the store to the time he shot and killed Mr. Taylor less than 40 seconds elapsed,” according to the news release.
“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.”
Taylor’s family “demanded charges be filed,” CBS SF reported. They said the officers were not trained to “deal with someone having a mental health crisis.”
“The way our police should be reformed is to help people with mental illnesses,” his mother, Sharon Taylor, told CBS SF in June. “When you call an officer on a Black person, it’s not going to end well.”