Orange County, CA, prosecutors Wednesday released dramatic video showing two Anaheim police officers firing 76 shots at a suspect during a high-speed pursuit. No charges were filed against the officers, however, one has been fired and the other faces departmental discipline.
The driver of the pursued vehicle Eliuth Penaloza Nava, 50, was killed. The deadly incident happened on July 21, 2018. It unfolded after Nava’s brother called police about 9:30 a.m. and reported that the man had ingested an unknown drug and was “hallucinating” and armed with a knife and gun inside his Chevy truck, according to prosecutors. The handgun turned out to be a replica airsoft pistol, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer’s office on Wednesday released videos of the incident and a letter analyzing the deadly shooting. Prosecutors, while finding that the officers ultimately acted legally because of the threat of what they believed to be a real gun in the hands of a man high on narcotics, took the unusual step of questioning the officers’ behavior.
“The fact that the two involved officers discharged their weapons 76 times, from a moving patrol car at Nava’s moving car, at approximately 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, in a residential neighborhood where residents, including children, were home and on the streets, was alarming and irresponsible based on the totality of all the circumstances in this specific case,” the report stated.
Prosecutors said that in order to file charges, they would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was no legal justification for the officers' conduct — a conclusion they could not make "based on the totality of the circumstances, " KTLA reports
Officer Kevin Pedersen, the driver of the police cruiser during the pursuit, was terminated as a probationary officer, and Officer Sean Staymates, a 10-year veteran, faces potential discipline and remains on administrative leave, Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros said.
In the video released by prosecutors, Pederson fires several magazines of ammunition at the pursued truck through the windshield of his patrol vehicle. Officer Staymates fires at the vehicle with a rifle, aiming out of the passenger side window.