Escondido Police Release Bodycam Footage of Homeless Man Shot, Killed by Officer

The video released includes portions of the 911 call, surveillance cameras, photographs of the scene and footage from body-worn cameras from officers at the scene

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The Escondido Police Department released bodycam footage of a homeless man who was shot and killed by an officer who was responding to a call of a man hitting cars with a "metal pole".

The video released Thursday on the incident that occurred on April 21 is about 9 minutes long. It includes portions of the 911 calls made, surveillance cameras, photographs of the scene and footage from body-worn cameras from officers at the scene.

EPD Chief Ed Varso said the video was released to "give our community a better understanding of the events."

The video starts of by showing 911 calls made describing a man hitting vehicles with a "metal object" in the parking lot near 2nd Avenue and Grand Avenue.

As the video continues, an officer, identified as Martinez, first made contact with the homeless man, identified as Steven John Olson, 59, behind a business in Escondido.

Officer Martinez then tells Olson to drop the crowbar, later described by police as two feet long.

Credit: Escondido Police Department. Picture of the crowbar at the scene.

"Steven, Steven put the crowbar down dude," Martinez is heard saying in the video.

Olson is seen approaching Martinez and speaking incoherently. Olson was also carrying a squeegee along with the crowbar.

Martinez kept telling Olson to put the crowbar down, but he ran away.

Olson appeared to be under the influence of something but was not displaying any threatening behavior, EPD Lt. Kevin Toth said in the video.

Martinez stayed at the scene and spoke to witnesses about the incident that prompted the police call.

A few minutes later, an officer identified as Chad Moore saw Olson walking in the street at 2nd Avenue and Broadway shortly after 7 a.m., according to Toth.

"Officer Moore recognized Olson as the subject described in the previous 911 call and he has had numerous contact with him in the past," Toth said. "Officer Moore attempted to address Olson from inside his vehicle using his loudspeaker, but Olson did not respond."


In the bodycam footage released, officer Moore was seen getting out of his vehicle and Olson was seen walking towards him with the crowbar still in hand as he dropped the squeegee.

Toth said Moore drew his handgun and gave Olson several commands to drop the crowbar as he backed away approximately 65 feet before firing several rounds at Olson from a distance of about 7 feet.

Credit: Escondido Police Department. The red dot is Steven Olson and the blue dot is officer Chad Moore

In the video, as officer Moore is backing away he is yelling at Olson, "Drop it now," "'re gonna get shot."

Olson then responds, "I know and you're going to get hit."

As the video continues, officer Moore is seen backing away still pointing his service gun at Olson as he continues to approach him. Officer Moore keeps yelling at Olson to drop the crowbar.

In the video, he yells "drop it" right before shooting at Olson.

"3K shots fired,” Moore says into his radio. “Suspect is down. Start medics. I am Code-4 (uninjured).”

Toth said Olson was at shot six times. Additional officers then arrived at the scene.

Officers then began life-saving measures but Olson was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Toth said Olson had been arrested four times in the past year for "threatening people with deadly weapons. Including a box cutter, a knife, a piece of metal and a stick."

"He was previously sent to prison for an assault with a deadly weapon and served a prison term for that crime," Toth continued. "He has been placed on five mental health holds in local hospitals since 2015."

Toth also says since 2021, Olson had been the subject of at least 23 radio calls for service ranging from trespassing, to assaultive behavior and threatening behavior.

"I do not share this to vilify him," said Chief Varso in the video. "Steven needed extensive help. Instead, he was placed into a seriously flawed or revolving door system that processes people from jail to the streets, to services to the streets, back to jail and back to the streets."

Varso also said the department will do an internal review its existing policy to examine if any improvements need to be made to improve the outcomes when officers use force.

Officer Moore was placed on administrative leave, the department said.

An investigation into the incident is underway by the EPD crimes of violence unit and will be independently reviewed by the San Diego County District Attorney's office, U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI to determine if the officer's actions were reasonable under the law.

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