DA: Officers Justifed in Shooting Killer 47 Times

San Diego police officers were justified when they killed a gunman who shot and killed a 45-year-old man and injured six other people last year, the district attorney's office announced.

Read the DA's letter

Narcotics agents doing surveillance saw Tri Vo drive gang member Cao Van Lam, 41, enter his former wife's apartment on 34 Street on Nov. 17, 2007. Lam burst inside and shot six people, police said. One person died.

The agent and Lam then exchanged gunfire. The agent was shot in the stomach during the shootout. Officers then saw Lam running across Interstate 805 with a gun in his hand.

Some of the officers told investigators they saw muzzle flashes and thought Lam was firing at them, so they opened fire. While Lam was on the ground, other officers said they saw Lam's gun raised toward officers and feared for their lives, according to the DA's investigation. The officers fired a total of 47 rounds. Lam was hit multiple times.

The six officers will face no criminal liability for killing Lam because they could not have known he was out of ammunition, said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

“In this case, the involved officers were confronted by an individual who had just murdered one person, shot five others, and then had shot and wounded a law enforcement officer in his efforts to escape,” Dumanis stated in the report.

A toxicology report showed Lam had methamphetamine in his system.

Lam’s driver, Tri Vo, was sentenced to seven years in state prison.

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