“I don’t think it should have happened that way. He shouldn’t have died.” Those were the words of Lucia Capuano, but the sentiment was shared by other Escondido residents after seeing a police bodycam video that shows an officer shooting a homeless man holding a crowbar.
Capuano owns Doart Shoe Repair, which is just across the street from where 59-year-old Steven Olson was shot and killed.
“I wasn’t here to see it, but I did see the video this morning,” she said. “I don’t think the cop should have shot him 6 times.”
Capuano says she supports the police and knows they have a tough job. Some of her customers are Escondido Police officers, but she wishes the officer would have tried a different approach on April 21, like deploying a police K-9 to stop Olson in his tracks.
In the video released by Escondido Police, a police K-9 is heard barking in the background.
“A taser gun might be better,” said Hector Rodriguez, who told NBC 7 the officer didn’t exercise other options. “The force that he used compared to the force that the gentleman was able to use was not comparable. A crowbar and a handgun are different.”
Both residents said they believed Olson would still be alive if Officer Chad Moore had used de-escalation techniques and less-lethal tools.
“They really need to reserve judgment until such time that all the facts have been considered,” said police practices expert Paul Cappitelli.
Capitelli worked for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for 29 years, retiring at the rank of Captain, so he’s aware of the issues surrounding officer-involved shootings.
Cappitelli reviewed the edited video released by Escondido Police and said it’s clear to him that the officers involved tried everything they could to de-escalate the situation.
“Both officers really tried everything they could to verbalize to Mr. Olson that he needed to drop the weapon that he was holding in his hand," he said.
Cappitelli said Olson appeared to be a “serious threat” to Officer Moore, as he advanced within 7 feet of the officer, still refusing to drop the crowbar. He said the officer also knew Olson’s track record as a violent offender who has had many contacts with police, and may have had mental health and drug issues, all of which could have been factors in the decision to shoot.
“It’s not all as it seems when you look at it on the surface,” said Cappitelli. “The best thing I can say is you have to evaluate every single circumstance, frame by frame, second by second to determine what action was taken and whether the action was appropriate based on what the person was doing at the time.”