by Chuck Sharman
A California jury found a cop in a wealthy San Francisco suburb guilty of felony assault with a firearm in the fatal 2018 shooting of an unarmed mentally ill man during a response to a 911 call.
The jury deadlocked on a more serious felony charge of voluntary manslaughter against Danville Police Officer Andrew Hall, who killed Laudemer Arboleda on November 3, 2018, after a 911 caller reported the 33-year-old was lingering in the cul-de-sac of a residential area.
A group of responding police officers—which did not initially include Hall—found Arboleda driving away from the scene. They followed him in a nine-minute low-speed pursuit, during which Hall arrived and maneuvered his patrol car to block Arboleda’s path. The video showed the officer then stepping into the roadway and firing ten shots into the suspect’s vehicle, prompting the jury to agree with prosecutors that Hall’s actions were “excessive, unreasonable and unnecessary.”
The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, which provides policing to Danville under contract, cleared Hall of wrongdoing in the matter at the end of a nine-month investigation. Defense attorney Harry Stern also argued that the officer made the best decision he could in the “two-second window” he had.
But Contra Costa County prosecutor Colleen Gleason countered that the police department’s video evidence showed that Hall jumped from his patrol car, ran up to Arboleda, and “fired 10 shots into the slow-moving vehicle of a mentally ill man.”
Nine of those shots hit their target, killing Arboleda. His family said he had been exhibiting worrying signs of depression. A few months before his death, he had been committed involuntarily for a three-week stay in a psychiatric hospital, where he was medicated for psychosis and schizophrenia.
John Burris, a civil rights attorney representing the family in a separate civil lawsuit over Arboleda’s killing, said that though his clients would have preferred a murder verdict, at least the case “sends a message to other police officers that clearly you can be prosecuted and you can be convicted.”
Gleason’s boss, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, came under fire for a two-and-a-half-year delay in bringing charges in April 2021 against Hall, who is white, and who had shot and killed a homeless Black man just six weeks earlier. According to his family, that victim, Tyrell Wilson, was also mentally ill. His killing is still under investigation.
Source: Laredo Morning Times
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