Orange County prosecutors have cleared officers of criminal culpability in the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding suspect in Anaheim last year, according to a letter released Monday by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
In a letter dated Oct. 14 to Anaheim Police Department Chief Jorge Cisneros, prosecutors cleared Officers Jacob Jones and Matthew De La Fuente in the killing of 25-year-old Jesse David Nava on Aug. 29, 2020.
A 16-year-old girl in Anaheim on Aug. 5, 2019, told police she was raped and impregnated by Nava, according to the District Attorney’s Office report. She gave birth to the baby April 29, 2020, and DNA test results could not rule out Nava as a major contributor, the report said.
An arrest warrant for Nava was issued Aug. 28, 2020, and the two officers along with two others agreed on a ruse to help take the suspect into custody, prosecutors said.
Nava, who had a criminal history of gang activity, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, was considered dangerous so they came up with the ruse to more safely get him into custody, prosecutors said.
Jones and De La Fuente contacted the suspect’s mother and told her that a transient had used a credit card in Nava’s name, so they needed to talk to him. She agreed to pick up Nava and bring him back to Anaheim so they could talk to him.
When Nava returned to Anaheim the officers went to talk to him, continuing the ruse, but the officers were suspicious because despite the heat Nava had a jacket on, prosecutors said.
They pretended they had a suspect in custody as they asked Nava for his ID so they could verify his identity and then handed the card back to him. Then Jones asked Nava to come over to his car, prompting Nava to step back as his mother approached.
Jones told Nava’s mother to back away so they could talk to Nava privately, prompting Nava to take another step back to calm her and tell her that he would be right back.
When the officers tried to take Nava into custody moments later, he pushed away and a scuffle ensued, prosecutors said.
Nava managed to pull out a knife during the struggle, spurring the officers to draw their weapons. While Nava was attempting to stand up from a tumble to the ground, Jones fired two rounds and De La Fuente fired three rounds, prosecutors said.
Despite getting shot, Nava refused to drop the knife and the officers then used non-lethal weapons to try to subdue him, but he continued to refuse to release the weapon, prosecutors said.
At some point the knife slipped out of Nava’s hand and the officers asked him to crawl their way, but he said he could not and, because they still feared Nava would attack them, they asked for a shield so they could kick the weapon away, prosecutors said.
Another officer managed to kick the weapon away, Nava was taken into custody and rushed to a hospital, where he later died, prosecutors said.
“Officers Jones and De La Fuente simultaneously fired at Nava in order to protect themselves and the lives of one another,” the report said. “Nava resisted arrest and continued holding onto the knife and refused to drop it even after multiple commands.”