A San Leandro, California police officer has been charged with manslaughter after fatally shooting a Black man who was wielding a baseball bat inside of a local Walmart.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced the charges against Officer Jason Fletcher on Wednesday (Sep. 2). He shot and killed 33-year-old Steven Demarco Taylor on Apr. 18.
“A thorough review of the statements of witnesses and involved police officers, physical evidence and the review of multiple videos of the shooting shows that at the time of the shooting it was not reasonable to conclude Mr. Taylor posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to Officer Fletcher or to anyone else in the store,” O’Malley said in a statement.
She continued, “I believe Officer Fletcher’s actions, coupled with his failure to attempt other de-escalation options rendered his use of deadly force unreasonable and a violation of Penal Code Section 192(a), Voluntary Manslaughter.”
Back in April, officers were called to a local Walmart in the San Francisco Bay Area following reports that Taylor was allegedly trying to leave the store without paying for his items. Bodycam footage shows the officers telling the victim to drop the baseball bat multiple times, but he continued to hold it.
Authorities then used a taser twice on Taylor, but he continued to advance towards the officers. Fletcher shot the victim once in the chest, which caused him to drop the bat. Another officer fired a third taser at Taylor after he was shot.
“I know the loss of Steven Taylor has deeply affected this community,” San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor said in a statement. “Today, the District Attorney has charged Officer Jason Fletcher with voluntary manslaughter. It is important that we allow the judicial process to take its course.”
Fletcher is set to be arraigned on Sep. 15