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Best Friend Fired Fatal Shot In Calif. Cop Shooting

February 02, 2012  | 

Photo: Santa Barbara Independent
Photo: Santa Barbara Independent

The Santa Maria (Calif.) Police officer who was fatally shot by fellow officers attempting to arrest him at a DUI checkpoint drew his weapon on two sergeants—his cousin and the best man in his wedding just three weeks earlier.

Other details emerged about the shooting in an Associated Press report about the department's attempt to arrest Officer Albert Covarrubias, Jr., on suspicion of having sex with a 17-year-old female Police Explorer. Officer Covarrubias, 29, had finished his shift working a DUI checkpoint when the shooting took place.

Veteran law enforcement officers, including PoliceMag.com's Patrol blogger Dean Scoville, have questioned the department's decision to take down Officer Covarrubias in public—the sergeants approached him at 1 a.m. Saturday at the end of his shift.

The female Police Explorer participated in the department's operation targeting Officer Covarrubias with a "pretext call" that allowed officers to hear him acknowledge the intimate relationship during a wiretap. In California, age of consent is 18, unless the two people are within three years of each other.

Related:

Taking Down One of Our Own

Tags: Sex Crimes, Officer Misconduct, Internal Investigations, Friendly Fire, Santa Maria (Calif.) PD, Police Explorers


Comments (15)

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15

John Jackson @ 2/2/2012 5:24 PM

A 17 year old had sex with a young adult!...wow, and she of course did not participate freely. That is hard to believe! This girl new what she was doing, and was within a few months of being an adult. I doubt the DA would even file. This whole escapade by the leadership of Santa Maria PD is at best, flawed! What was the hurry to fire him??

Leonard Mather @ 2/2/2012 5:27 PM

The way this report reads, it looks like having sex with a female Police Explorer who is 18 is approved. However, at 17 the culprit is to be shot.

DinkyDauBilly @ 2/2/2012 5:50 PM

@Mather: I think drawing his weapon on the two officers was the reason he got himself shot, not for boffing an underage Explorer.
@Jackson: Her consent is beside the point. The relationship between officer and Explorer is akin to teacher/student. Do you think it's OK for high school teachers to be boffing their students?

Bobby Saunders @ 2/2/2012 7:52 PM

This is bull shit !!!!! Killed in the line
Of duty!!!

R. G. Montgomery @ 2/2/2012 9:03 PM

So, people who criticize this somehow believe it's all the PD management's fault for this loser to be boinking an underage person AND drawing his sidearm to threaten other officers when arrested?

As much as I find fault with management in general, I find it hard to follow that train of thought. The officer in question was a criminal and decided to resist a lawful arrest with deadly force. I find it sad, but he made his own choice.

Tschako @ 2/2/2012 9:43 PM

Before you weigh in on this, read the 8 pages of comments regarding it in yesterdays Police One.
Try not to trash the department until we get some real facts.

This man punched his own ticket. Regardless of his past success, he rocketed himself into felon status because, for one thing, he couldn't keep his dick in his pants. He ruined the life of his best friend, damaged his family, relations with the community and cashed out like a cheesy felon, unable to even off himself. Made his best friend do it. NO police funeral, NO black bands on the badge. He is entirely to blame for this miserable outcome.

Retired Motor 1 @ 2/3/2012 6:56 AM

Regardless of what he was accused of doing, this attempt to arrest him in public was a mistake. Bad judgment, period. He had a knee jerk reaction that got him killed and the ripple effect will continue for many years. What were they thinking about?? Does he not dress in the locker room and remove his service weapon there?

Rich @ 2/3/2012 7:14 AM

Management's desire to jump to conclusions and hammer the employees is the outcome of the recent attacks on public labor unions. I too was wrongly accused and placed on forced sick leave simply because my Chief and Asst. Chief didn't want me around with just over a month before my retirement. What did I do to deserve this you ask? I tried to resolve a problem I was experiencing with management, instead of allowing an officer safety issue to continue, or it was because I signed a "interest" card for collective bargaining.

Janet @ 2/3/2012 7:54 AM

He had a death wish. He was wrong to have sex with this young lady and he was wrong to force his friend and co-worker to take his life. He took the easy way out. Shame on him. My prayers goes out to all involved.

Mattie @ 2/3/2012 11:24 AM

This story is tragic. Can't help but feel that the decision to take him down "immediately" was made by some bureaucrat that has long forgotten what it means to put on a uniform. The guy was a felon (accused). He absolutely should have been arrested and had charges filed through our justice system. Shame on him. But Blue on Blue? The decision to arrest him in uniform, while he is armed is a poor decision. I know the admin has to cover their tracks for making a poor decision and say it was an exigent arrest, but forcing a guy in uniform to shoot another guy in uniform??? It's not right. I hope the truth comes out in the future and we all learn from this incident. Covarrubias took the cowards way out. My heart goes out to his best man. He did the right thing even when put in the worse possible scenario any of us could be put in...

Chip Douglas @ 2/3/2012 12:22 PM

People need to stop making excuses for Covarrubias. He of all people knows under the law that he has a duty to submit peacefully to a lawful arrest. Over the years, a fair number of armed police officers have been arrested for misconduct. It is extremely rare that they resist violently. By drawing his weapon and firing at officers in the lawful commission of their duty, Covarrubias was committing a felony while armed, to wit, assault with a deadly weapon while armed and the attempted murder of a police officer. I think it is clear he panicked reacted in a very unfortunate manner. This sounds like a classic case of a police assisted suicide.

Boomer 7 @ 2/3/2012 12:57 PM

As a Police Officer, I see blame should be equally shared. The officer was wrong!! If he drew his weapon as reported. If there was suspicion of his behavior, he should have been placed off duty at an earlier time. Why would leadership work an armed officer at of all places a DUI Checkpoint? I dont understand this at all.

Mark @ 2/3/2012 3:20 PM

As a 32 year veteran police officer, a veteran sex crimes and homicide detective, and internal affairs supervisor/investigator, I am amazed at the debacle in Santa Maria. First, I can count on one hand the felony filings I have seen for statutory rape with a more than 10 year age difference. Second, as a part of my previous assignments, I have had to arrest police officers for criminal misconduct, both from my department and outside law enforcement agencies. Only once, have I had to make an arrest of an on duty armed police officer (murder for hire) and that was made with the assistance of SWAT during a fluid situation. I have always made sure that the officer was unarmed with the use of a ruse or other tactic. This was not a situation that required immediate action that could not have waited for 10 more minutes at the station. This jeopardized the officers involved and innocent citizens. The Santa Maria Chief is being untruthful when he states that immediate action was required. It is obvious that this was politically motivated. You must ask this question, "would we approach an armed suspect, in public where others could be harmed, when we could take the suspect into custody a few minutes later, unarmed and safely out of the public." I do not support the dead officer's conduct, but the overreaction of the chief caused an unnecessary death, for a crime he would have received minimal time behind bars. Remember "We eat our own."

David Dean @ 2/5/2012 5:30 AM

Reading several of the comments I see issues with the judgement and analysis of those commenting. Yes the choice of venue likely could have been better, although this "officer" did seem to be possessed of much common sense. Secondly, and most importantly the comments posted seem to dismiss or forget that this "officer" had previously demonstrated the disposition hazards others to harm when he pulled his weapon at a wedding "three weeks prior" and pointed his gun at others as well. The real issue extends only to him and not the stated problems with when and where he was going to be arrested. He would have done the same thing in the locker room, at his residence, or in the office of a supervisor.

lawman94 @ 2/7/2012 1:44 PM

We need to morn this young Officer and always remeber we "ALL" are human sometimes. The thin blue line can be a very hard walk for anyone. Lets not forget the brothers who are still here and will have to go on after this situation is out of the eye of the media. Pray for every Officer working a beat and never forget any of our brothers and sister no matter what they may have done or had to do. Take Care

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