DA: Deadly officer-involved shooting was justified

2012-03-03T00:30:00Z DA: Deadly officer-involved shooting was justifiedBy Samantha Yale Scroggin/Staff Writer sscroggin@santamariatimes.com Santa Maria Times

Santa Maria police officers were justified in using deadly force that resulted in the shooting death of Samyr Ceballos in December, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced Friday, and the homicide was justified.

Furthermore, the District Attorney’s Office found that injuries sustained by two Santa Maria police officers who were wounded by other officers during the shooting were not the result of any criminal activity on the part of the shooters.

Ceballos, 24, a Santa Maria resident and a documented West Park gang member, was killed on Dec. 8 in front of his home in the 300 block of Agnes Avenue when Ceballos pointed a gun at officers while they fought to detain him as part of a drug investigation.

Four Santa Maria police officers fired at Ceballos, the District Attorney’s Office indicated in a report released Friday, with three connecting and shots hitting him a total of six times.

Two officers at the scene who didn’t fire their weapons were injured by “friendly fire” - one suffering a gunshot wound to each of his hands, and the other a gunshot wound to the foot.

Ceballos didn’t fire his gun.

The District Attorney’s Office is withholding the names of the officers involved for the time being, as there are threats to the officers’ safety.

The four officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of internal department and external investigations. It wasn’t clear Friday when, of if, those officers will return to duty.

Toxicology reports revealed Ceballos had methamphetamine levels in his system that were near the point of overdose, according to the report from prosecutors.

Wrote District Attorney Joyce Dudley, “In each case, it appears each officer fired at Ceballos after seeing Ceballos either point the loaded 9mm handgun at them or other officers. Additionally, Ceballos was under the influence of methamphetamine during the confrontation at a level three to four times normal dosing.”

Before Ceballos pulled his gun and was shot, officers tried without success to bring him into compliance through non-lethal tactics, including deploying a stun gun.

Dudley said Friday that after she and members of her office participated in a thorough investigation that included many interviews with police and witnesses, the decision that the shooting was justified was not difficult to arrive at.

“This was not a tough decision,” she said. “What this was, was a long, involved process, and I think that’s the way it should be.”

Dudley continued, “When the pieces of the puzzle fit together the way they did this time, then it’s not a tough call.”

A senior deputy district attorney out of Lompoc headed up the review, Dudley noted, to avoid any perception of bias.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department investigated the incident along with the state Department of Justice, and turned its findings over to the District Attorney’s Office in mid February.

In addition, the Santa Maria Police Department conducted an internal investigation.

Santa Maria police Chief Danny Macagni was out of the office Friday and could not be reached to discuss the DA’s announcement, the status of the department’s internal investigation or whether the four officers involved would be returning to duty.

The December incident was the first of two deadly shootings involving Santa Maria police officers in as many months.

More public attention has been focused on the Jan. 28 fatal shooting of Santa Maria police Officer Alberto Covarrubias Jr., who was mortally wounded by a colleague as he reportedly fired shots as police supervisors struggled to arrest him on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

That incident is still being investigated by the county Sheriff’s Department as well as the Office of Independent Review, a body created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Copyright 2015 Santa Maria Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. frankie805
    Report Abuse
    frankie805 - March 04, 2012 8:18 pm
    Wow, I would have never guessed! No matter what the police do in this community it always comes out that there actions were justified. Boy aren't we lucky to have a Police force that always follows procedures and the Law. Give me a break! I just hope that one day Someone will have the guts to say to the chief that enough is enough. This killing could and should have been prevented. They could have called in a negotiator and ended this peacefully why didn't they?
  2. TiredofSMBS is an idiot
    Report Abuse
    TiredofSMBS is an idiot - March 03, 2012 4:55 pm
    Ok, now that I have finished re-reading your post for the third time just so I could decipher it, and laughing at the same time, I must comment, even though it's really not worth my time. Really? Here's what you said: "hgkjshGDFKJHGSDFJHG KJSHDFG KJSDHFG KJshdgfkjhdsgFKshdfg kjsdhFG Ksjhdgf ksdhGF " Come on. Your commentary was as bad as your grammar and spelling. The only officers under the influence are TiredofSMBS (read other blogs or have someone read them to you), and Macagni. But that is a good thing because those meds are prescribed.
  3. AirArtist
    Report Abuse
    AirArtist - March 03, 2012 3:53 pm
    WHAT WAS THE Toxicology reports ON THE OFFICERS? THE ARTICAL DOESNT SAY, OF COARSE THEY RELEASE Toxicology reports ON THE DEAD GUY SO THEY CAN JUSTIFIE KILLING HIM, LETS SEE WHAT THE OFFICER ARE ON CAUSE THEY WERE THE ONLY ONES FIRERING AND KILLING SOME ONE PLUS SHOOTING ACOUPLE OF THERE OWN. SANTA MARIA TIMES ISNT FAIR IN ITS REPORTS

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on SantaMariaTimes.com

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Santa Maria Times (SantaMariaTimes.com) may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in SantaMariaTimes.com's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Santa Maria Times or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on SantaMariaTimes.com.

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Activate subscription button gif

Follow Us

Featured Businesses

View More...

Online e-Edition

Read your newspaper online, anytime, anywhere!

Read today's Santa Maria Times print edition at any time from any computer. Your local news and information at your convenience!

Read | Subscribe