The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has declined to file charges in connection with the officer-involved shooting deaths of three men in 2017, including a man who kept his 7-month-old daughter inside his ex-girlfriend’s car with him during a nearly eight-hour standoff with Covina police.
Prosecutors found that Covina Police Officers Ulrich Ramirez and Michael Colburn “acted in lawful self-defense and defense of others” and that another officer, Manuel Esquivel, acted in lawful self-defense of others when they used deadly force against 22-year-old Daniel Navarro at Wingate Park on Nov. 26, 2017.
Officers believed Navarro — who was wielding a knife — was trying to stab his young daughter, who was in a car seat on his lap, and the officers feared for their own safety, according to a document from the District Attorney’s Office.
Navarro had grabbed the steering wheel of his ex-girlfriend’s Toyota Scion and turned the vehicle into oncoming traffic after she rejected his request to take him to Walnut Creek Trail, and the woman was able to regain control of the car and turn into the park, where she stopped abruptly, according to the document.
The standoff ensued after Esquivel spotted the vehicle blocking traffic at the entrance of the park, with Navarro refusing to leave the car.
Police tried for almost eight hours to persuade him to release the baby and surrender peacefully, with messages being played from his family and his daughter’s mother imploring him to release the baby, according to the document.
Navarro died of multiple gunshot wounds.
The District Attorney’s Office also declined to initiate criminal proceedings involving:
— the Oct. 14, 2017, shooting death of Michael Lopez by Torrance police Officers Anthony Chavez, Blake Williams, Joshua Satterfield, Anthony Fontanez and Chris Tomsic following a pursuit.
Palos Verdes Estates police had initially chased a green Ford Ranger driving with a broken center brake light for about an hour, with the truck subsequently being spotted in Torrance and a second police pursuit ensuing that included the vehicle running through red lights and stop signs and reaching speeds of more than 80 mph and police using two PIT maneuvers, according to the document.
Prosecutors noted that the 44-year-old San Gabriel man’s truck was moving toward three police officers after the second PIT maneuver, and that the vehicle could have struck the officers if it had gained traction as it began to slide from a push bar of one of the patrol vehicles.
“Lopez was trapped and surrounded by officers,” according to the document. “His behavior during the pursuit showed that he was a person desperate to avoid arrest.”
— the Nov. 2, 2017, fatal shooting of Ricardo Cendejas, who had shot from his home in the unincorporated Willowbrook area at Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who were on a traffic stop.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Rodriguez shot the 20-year-old man after he walked toward a gun during an ensuing standoff with the sheriff’s SWAT team, according to the document.
“The fact that Cendejas shot at the deputies earlier in the day made it reasonable for the deputies to act more quickly and take greater self-defense measures than if Cendejas had not fired at them,” prosecutors wrote in their finding that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Rodriguez’s decision to use deadly force was unreasonable.
Prosecutors also declined to file charges against Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputies Pierina Gentille, Walter Arcos, Jason Aguilera and Scott Reynal involving the Feb. 4, 2017, death of Victor Flores, who lost consciousness while the 42-year-old man was being taken into custody in Norwalk.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office ascribed Flores’ death to methamphetamine toxicity and ruled the manner in which he died as accidental.
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