California DOJ Declines to Bring Charges Against LAPD Officers in Fatal Shooting

The California Department of Justice has announced that it will not pursue criminal charges against two LAPD officers involved in a fatal shooting in Pico-Union, Los Angeles. Samuel Soto, 53, was shot by officers on July 26, 2021, after an off-duty officer reported that Soto was bleeding from the neck and carrying a blade. However, subsequent investigations revealed discrepancies in the initial narrative provided by LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

According to a report released by the state Department of Justice, body-camera footage showed that Soto dropped the knife after being first shot by police and was unarmed when other officers shot him again minutes later. The DOJ’s investigation concluded that criminal charges were not appropriate in this case, as it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers did not reasonably fear for their safety and the safety of others.

The probe, which included interviews with officers and witnesses, as well as a review of body-camera footage, highlighted the complexity of the situation. The arrival of backup officers and a low-flying police helicopter further intensified the already dangerous circumstances, hampering communication between the authorities.

Officer David Voci, one of the responding backup officers, fired the three final shots that struck Soto. In the body-camera footage, a first responding officer can be heard informing Voci that Soto was no longer armed with a knife but was holding a black object, later identified as a phone. Despite this information, Voci shot Soto when he took two steps towards him. The report absolved Voci of wrongdoing, stating that he reasonably, though mistakenly, believed Soto was armed and posed an imminent threat.

The DOJ also found that the low-flying helicopter created noise, making communication difficult and the scene more chaotic. As a result, the department recommended that the LAPD evaluate whether officers followed departmental policies regarding Tasers, as most officers lacked fully charged or functioning devices. Additionally, the DOJ suggested collaboration between the LAPD and the Los Angeles Fire Department to improve dispatch communication.

Officer Eduardo Martinez, who shot Soto when he ran towards him with a knife before backup arrived, also faced no charges due to insufficient evidence, according to the DOJ.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

2 Responses

  1. As someone who is passionate about criminal justice reform, my personal goal is to advocate for more transparency and accountability in cases involving police shootings. It is disheartening to see that the California Department of Justice has decided not to pursue criminal charges against the LAPD officers involved in the fatal shooting in Pico-Union. This decision only reinforces the need for systemic changes in our law enforcement agencies.

    To contribute to the cause, I plan to educate myself and others about the importance of police accountability. I will

  2. This decision by the California Department of Justice is absolutely outrageous and deeply concerning. It is yet another example of the systemic failure to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions, particularly when it comes to the unjustified use of deadly force.

    The fact that two LAPD officers will not face criminal charges for a fatal shooting is a slap in the face to the victim’s family and to the entire community. It sends a clear message that the lives of innocent civilians can be taken without consequence, perpetuating a culture

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