San Diego County

Video: DA's Office Clears Officers of Liability in Old-Town OIS, Two In-Custody Deaths

A still image from body camera footage recorded before Harold Daniels' in-custody death in January 2020 (left), a still image from body camera footage recorded prior to Jason Watts' in-custody death in 2018 (center), and a still image form thermographic helicopter footage taken prior to an officer-involved shooting that injured Luke Lampers in 2017 (right).

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office released helicopter footage from a 2017 officer-involved shooting, and officer-worn camera footage from two in-custody death incidents from 2018 and 2020. All three incidents were reviewed by the DA and the law enforcement personnel involved in each were cleared of criminal liability.

2017 Officer-Involved Shooting in Old Town

Thermographic helicopter footage from a January 11, 2017 incident shows law enforcement officers giving chase to a suspect through Old Town.

The DA's office identified the suspect as 35-year-old Luke Lampers, who at the time was wanted for a homicide in Anaheim and was suspected of kidnapping his girlfriend and taking her to San Diego.

Anaheim Police Department officers came to San Diego to try and locate Lampers and his girlfriend with the help of local law enforcement. Witnesses had told APD investigators that Lampers was armed and willing to get into a shoot out with police, the DA's Office said.

When officers spotted Lampers in Old Town, he ran. As he was jumping a fence, a loaded gun in his possession fell on the other side of the fence.

Lampers tried to reach for the gun but couldn't grab it and eventually kept running and ignored commands to surrender. Lampers then reportedly reached to the front of his body and pursuing officers, fearful he may have been reaching for a weapon, fired at Lampers and struck him at least once. He was treated for his injuries and survived.

Credit: San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

2018 In-Custody Death, Chula Vista Police Department

Body camera footage shows officers attempting to arrest 29-year-old Jason Watts in a 7-Eleven store in Chula Vista on October 12, 2018.

Chula Vista Police Department officers were called to the convenience store by Watts, who claimed there were people there who were going to shoot him.

A store clerk who refuted Watts' claims to police said that Watts was lingering in the store and entered the area behind the cash register.

Two officers arrived at the 7-Eleven and tried to talk with Watts outside, but Watts went inside and again went behind the register. Watts refused multiple commands to surrender.

After a third officer arrived, Watts allegedly punched the register screen and picked the register up off the counter. All three officers fired tasers at Watts, causing him to drop the register and fall to the ground.

Watts was then sprayed with pepper spray as he stood back up, then he dove over the counter. As he moved closer to the door a fourth officer fired their taser at Watts. The group of officers tried to grab hold of Watts but he wouldn't cooperate, the DA's office said.

Officers were eventually able to place Watts in handcuffed as medics arrived at the scene. He was then placed in a WRAP device, a jacket-like wrap that officers use to restrain suspects, and taken to Paradise Valley Hospital where he was evaluated by medics.

Watts was cleared by medical staff at Paradise Valley Hospital and transport to Central Jail, but the medical staff at the jail refused him because of his "altered mental status," according to the DA's office.

From there Watts was taken to UCSD Hospital and later went into cardiac arrest and died. His cause of death was determined to be methamphetamine intoxication and excited delirium.

2020 In-Custody Death, San Diego Police Department

San Diego police officers made contact with Harold Leonard Daniels Jr., 52, in an alley near Estrella Avenue on Jan. 20. Police were called to the alley by a witness who said Daniels was drunk, holding his stomach and calling for help.

Daniels, who was on probation with alcohol conditions at the time, was found intoxicated lying on the ground. He was arrested and transported to SDPD headquarters.

When the officer arrived and opened the door to his cruiser, he found Daniels unconscious. The officer called for help from medical staff and an ambulance was called. He was then taken to UCSD Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Daniels' cause of death was determined to be hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Methamphetamine intoxication was a contributing factor in Daniels' death, the DA's office said.

Credit: San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
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