District Attorney Discusses Review of Deputy-Involved Shootings

One man fired a handgun at deputies, another had a knife but two had no weapons

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office found sheriff's deputies justified in four fatal deputy-involved shootings that occurred in San Diego last year.

The office reviewed the shootings of four men: Isidro Bazan, Jonathon Coronel, Bruce Dawley and Emmanuel Ibarra.

On July 5, Jonathon Coronel was in a crouched position, facing a deputy when he raised his hand—which was covered by a T-shirt—toward the deputy. The deputy fired at Coronel because he feared for his life, investigators said. According to the summary on the Medical Examiner's Office, a San Diego County Sheriff’s detective said Coronel pulled his shirt over his head, "turned his back to the deputies and started getting down on the ground." That account is consistent with an eyewitness NBC 7 spoke to just after the shooting.

Coronel, 24, was a documented gang member wanted on a probation violation who led deputies on a foot pursuit that ended at a home on North Melrose Drive in Vista.

During the confrontation, the deputy fired 16 rounds, striking Coronel multiple times and killing him, SDSO officials said.

Coronel had 22 gunshot wounds on his body, according to the ME report.

Coronel's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, saying that Coronel was unarmed when he was shot and killed.

After a thorough review of the evidence the deputies’ use of deadly force was reasonable under the circumstances, the DA’s office said.

Factors in the decision included Coronel’s criminal history and his status as a suspect in two violent crimes, Stephan said. 

"Coronel removed his shirt and wrapped it around his right hand which could reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to hide a handgun or as an attempt to simulate having a handgun," Stephan said, adding that no handgun was recovered at the scene.

On March 1, Isidro Bazan Jr. was killed in the confrontation with two deputies in the garage of a home inside a gated San Marcos community.

The 34-year-old transient was struck in the torso after investigators said he threatened to kill the deputies and himself. Bazan told deputies he was armed with a Glock 40.  Investigators later identified the item as dark-colored butane torch.

The DA's office reviewed the shooting and found the deputy perceived that Bazan posed a risk to himself, other deputies at the scene and the public. 

"Mr. Bazan had announced he had a Glock handgun in his possession. He had threatened to shoot the deputies and himself," Stephan said. 

The deputy faces no criminal liability in his actions, she said. 

On June 4, Bruce Dawley, 66, was shot and killed after firing a handgun at a San Diego County sheriff's deputy assigned to the Campo office, investigators said. 

The confrontation happened just before 11 a.m. after Dawley called the SDSO to say he had a gun and was feeling suicidal, officials said. 

Dawley fired at least one round from a handgun at deputies and one deputy returned fire with a shotgun, striking Dawley. The man was later found dead inside his home.

The DA's office reviewed the shooting and found the deputies justified in their actions.

On May 15, Emmanuel Ibarra was shot and killed in a confrontation with San Diego County sheriff's deputies in a shopping center off South Highway 101 in Solana Beach. 

Ibarra was shot shortly after he stabbed the manager of a Rubio's restaurant repeatedly in the face, deputies said. The Rubio's manager had tried to get Ibarra to leave the restaurant before the attack, deputies said.

Ibarra, 34, had a long history of mental illness. He had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 25 and had exhibited symptoms beginning at age 17, his brother told investigators. 

Ibarra was holding a knife in his hands and charged at deputies "in a rapid manner", Stephan said. 

"The deputy ultimately fired when he feared he and his colleagues would immediately be stabbed," Stephan said. 

Stephan said the DA's review found the deputy does not face any criminal liability due to his actions, she said.

Ibarra had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time he was killed, the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office stated in its autopsy report.

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