San Diego County

DA Won't Charge Officers Involved in 4 Police Shootings

The incidents included two lethal and two other police shootings involving San Diego and El Cajon police

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Reviews of four police shootings -- two of them fatal -- and an in-custody death by the district attorney's office determined the officers involved acted reasonably in defense of themselves and/or others and would not be criminally prosecuted.

The reviews were released Wednesday and involve cases spanning from August 2019 to February 2020.

Dennis Carolino: Shot and Killed by SDPD officers in El Cerrito Last August
Carolino's aunt called SDPD to report her son had thrown a brick at her and was acting erratically. She told the two responding officers when they arrived that her nephew was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The officers then attempted to find Carolino and evaluate him for a mental health referral, the DA's office said.

As they approached a shed in the backyard where Carolino had been living, the doors opened and Carolino allegedly charged at the officers with a shovel. Carolino ignored the officers' demands, according to the DA's office, and one officer shot him with a Taser while the other fired his service weapon. Carolino was shot five times and pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim's brother told NBC 7's Dave Summers that police could have responded with less than lethal force.

A review of the shooting by the DA's Office found the officer fired his weapon in defense of himself, his partner and Carolino's aunt, and faces no criminal liability for Carolino's death.

In March, Carolino's family filed a lawsuit accusing the officers involved, Jose Mendez and Brad Keyes, of failing to take reasonable steps to de-escalate a situation involving a mentally ill subject.

The review that the DA office's released can be found here. Officer-worn camera footage of the incident can be seen here.

Toby Diller: Shot and Killed by SDPD in Oak Park in January
Two SDPD officers contacted Diller at the intersection of 54th Street and College Grove Drive after seeing him with an open container of alcohol. The moment Officers Devion Johnson and Benjamin Downing exited their patrol car, Diller allegedly took off running.

Diller refused multiple commands to surrender, according to the DA's office and was eventually tackled to the ground.

In the officer-worn camera footage of the incident, while struggling with Diller on the ground, Downing is heard yelling to Johnson, "He has my gun! Shoot him!"

"The officer saw the holster in Diller’s hand, and it appeared Diller was trying to remove the gun from the holster," the DA's office said.

At that point, Johnson fired his service weapon and struck Diller in the face. Diller was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Due to the imminent nature of the threat posed by Diller’s possession of the loaded handgun, it is objectively reasonable that an officer in the same situation would believe that Diller had the present ability, opportunity and apparent intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to the officer and his partner. Based on these circumstances, Officer Johnson acted reasonably and bears no state criminal liability for his actions," the DA's office said.

NBC 7 Investigates broke down discrepancies between the department's description of the incident and footage from officer-worn cameras and street cameras.

The DA's report can be seen here.

NBC 7 Investigates reporter Alexis Rivas has more from Toby Diller's family about his death and the lawsuit.

Carlos Soto: Shot by SDPD at a Homeless Encampment in February 2020

SDPD officers were working a homeless enforcement operation in Otay Mesa, clearing out an encampment, when they contacted Soto, 70, in a tent structure.

The officers identified themselves and told Soto to come out, and as he was exiting, they saw what they thought was a handgun in the pocket of his jacket, according to the DA's office.

Soto was given multiple commands to get on the ground, but when Soto reached for the weapon, later determined to be a BB gun, two officers fired their weapons and struck him three times.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances, the officers reasonably believed Soto presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to each of the officers. He removed what appeared to be a firearm from his pocket after they had given him several opportunities to come out of the tent and get down on the ground. In light of all the facts, the officers were justified in their actions and bear no state criminal liability for them," the DA's review said.

The DA's report can be seen here. Officer-worn camera footage from the incident can be seen here.

NBC 7's Nicole Gomez is at the scene where an officer-involved shooting took place at a homeless camp.

Keith Crenshaw: Shot by ECPD in February 2020
Crenshaw was asleep in the driver's seat of what was believed to be a stolen car, with his hands inside his shirt, when he was approached by El Cajon police. Three officers walked up to the vehicle, with a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) clinician staying behind and waiting for them to secure the scene, according to the DA's office.

After Crenshaw woke up, officers told him multiple times to take his hands out of his shirt and put them up. Crenshaw allegedly told officers to shoot him while they demanded his compliance, then he "moved his right hand toward his waistband and made jolting and jerking movements toward one of the officers through the open passenger door," the DA's office said.

At that point, an officer shot Crenshaw twice, once in the upper body and once in the arm. He allegedly told officers, “Kill me, please,” after he was shot,

Crenshaw eventually took his hands out of his shirt and was removed from the vehicle. He was treated for gunshot injuries at a hospital and survived.

According to the DA's office, Crenshaw gave a recorded statement and admitted to simulating possession of a weapon so that he would be shot by police.

The DA's review of the incident found the officer had reason to believe there was an imminent threat of serious harm or worse "that needed to be instantly confronted." The officer will not be criminally charged.

A suspected car thief was hospitalized after an El Cajon police officer opened fire.

The full report can be seen here.

The DA's office on Wednesday also published its review of an in-custody death involving a detainee who overdosed on methamphetamine.

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