FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—December 28, 2020
Contact: Scott Alonso, 925-957-8638, office
DA OIS Report: Pittsburg Police Officers Lawfully Shot and Killed Man During Standoff
Martinez, Calif. – The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office concludes that use of deadly force in the 2018 shooting of Salvador Morales, by Officer Kyle Baker, Sgt. Gabriel Palma, Sgt. William Hatcher, Sgt. Charles Blazer and Corporal Alex McCray was a lawful response, and was legally justified. The DA’s Office released a public report about the shooting today.
On October 22, 2018, Morales took his wife and baby son hostage. A family member attempted to intervene in the situation, but Morales drew a handgun and shot him. Morales then fled the scene and kidnapped his wife and baby son at gunpoint. Pittsburg Police officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on his car, however, Morales refused to stop and led the officers on a 27-minute-high speed chase.
Pittsburg Police officers had been negotiating with Morales for over two hours when he walked out the front door of the home, while pointing a handgun at himself. The officers fired a less-lethal, sponge round at him in the hope of getting Morales to surrender without using deadly force. Unfortunately, the sponge round did not stop Morales. After Morales was hit with the beanbag round, he raised his firearm and fired one bullet towards the responding officers. In turn, officers returned fire and ultimately Morales succumbed to his wounds.
The release of this report is the first under a new policy for any officer-involved shooting that results in a fatality if the DA’s Office does not file criminal charges against an officer. The DA’s Office has never consistently released reports about fatal law enforcement incidents and has never released a comprehensive report of this kind.
A criminal prosecution of the involved officers would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers were not justified in using deadly force. The DA’s Office’s conclusion that under the circumstances presented to these officers in this case, a reasonable juror would not make such a finding.
The DA’s Office and every law enforcement agency in Contra Costa County has adopted the Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incidents Protocol (“the Protocol”) to investigate incidents when officers or civilians are shot or die during an encounter with law enforcement.
Under the Protocol, the DA’s Office investigates all officer-involved shootings in Contra Costa County for the purpose of making an independent determination of criminal liability. The sole purpose of the District Attorney investigation is to determine if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a law enforcement official committed a crime in connection with the shooting.
The OIS public report is available on our website.