Investigation and review determine criminal charges are not supported by the evidence
DOJ issues policy and practice recommendations related to the incident
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta — in accordance with Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506) — today released a report on the death of Juan Luis Olvera-Preciado. Olvera-Preciado was an innocent bystander who was shot and killed by an officer with the Guadalupe Police Department (GPD) during a pursuit of another individual on August 21, 2021. After a thorough investigation and complete review of the evidence, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that, based on the totality of the circumstances, criminal charges in this matter are not supported by the evidence. As required by AB 1506, the Attorney General has also issued specific policy and practice recommendations related to the incident.
“My heart goes out to Mr. Olvera-Preciado’s family, friends, and all those who knew him,” said Attorney General Bonta. “His death was tragic and there is nothing that can make up for the loss of a loved one. While my office has determined that the evidence does not support criminal charges against the involved officer, we are making direct recommendations to the Guadalupe Police Department to help increase public trust and keep our communities safe. As required by AB 1506, my office will continue to do our part to conduct fair investigations and provide transparency around officer-involved shootings in our state.”
On August 21, 2021, GPD Officer Miguel Jaimes and another officer made contact with a previously known individual — who was suspected of starting a small fire earlier that evening and who had two outstanding arrest warrants — at approximately 9:47 p.m. Upon contact with the officers, the individual reportedly fled from them, ignoring multiple commands to show his hands. During a short foot pursuit, the individual then reportedly punched out his right arm as if he had a gun and a black butane torch belonging to the suspect was later found at the scene. In response, Officer Jaimes fired three rounds at the individual. These shots missed the individual who dropped to the ground and was arrested. However, Olvera-Preciado, an innocent bystander who was reportedly not visible to the officers, was subsequently found deceased nearby in his car from a gunshot wound. The investigation later indicated that the officer’s bullet likely ricocheted off the ground, traveled approximately 174 feet, entered a slightly ajar car door, and ultimately killed the decedent as a result of a head wound.
DOJ investigated and reviewed the shooting that resulted in Olvera-Preciado’s death pursuant to California Government Code section 12525.3, which was enacted as a result of AB 1506. The report released today is the final step in DOJ’s review of the fatal shooting, and is limited solely to determining whether criminal charges should be brought against the involved officers, and policy and practice recommendations. While the report does not encompass or comment on any potential administrative or civil actions, it does contain a detailed summary of the incident and investigation, a thorough legal analysis, and policy and practice recommendations made to GPD.
DOJ conducted a comprehensive, objective, and independent investigation into the incident. In all, two police officers, four emergency responders, and 18 civilian witnesses were interviewed, and hundreds of hours of investigation were conducted by DOJ. As part of the review of the incident, the evidence analyzed included, among other things, crime scene photographs, physical evidence, witness statements, the autopsy report, and forensic analyses of ballistics and firearms, fingerprints, and DNA. After a detailed analysis, the Department concluded there was substantial evidence that Officer Jaimes acted in self-defense and in the defense of others. Under the doctrine of transferred intent, where an individual uses deadly force in lawful self-defense or defense of others, the individual’s lack of criminal intent for homicide of the intended target transfers to the killing of the bystander. Therefore, under the applicable legal standards, there is insufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.
Separately, as required by AB 1506, the Attorney General has issued several policy and practice recommendations to GPD in relation to the incident. Among those recommendations, GPD should:
- Revise their policy on body-worn camera footage to state that an officer shall activate their body-worn cameras during investigative stops;
- Prohibit officers who deploy lethal force or witness an officer-involved shooting from discussing the incident with one another and avoid scenarios where the officers are alone with one another in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation in the immediate wake of an incident;
- Clearly post departmental policies on the agency’s website as required by law to support public access;
- Update use of force policies so that they are consistent with best practices and state law, including by making it clear that state law does not authorize the use of chokeholds;
- Require officers to use de-escalation techniques, crisis intervention tactics, and other alternatives to force when feasible;
- Develop guidance on policies regarding situational awareness to minimize the risk of harm to innocent bystanders in residential locations; and
- Bring aforementioned policies into compliance with state law within 90 days and provide mandatory training to all staff on the revised policies.
DOJ — pursuant to AB 1506 — is required to investigate all incidents of a shooting by an officer resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state. Historically, these critical incidents in California had been primarily handled by local law enforcement agencies and the state’s 58 district attorneys. However, signed into law on September 30, 2020, and in effect on July 1, 2021, AB 1506 provides DOJ with an important tool to directly help build and maintain trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve by creating a mandate for an independent, statewide prosecutor to investigate and review shootings by an officer that result in the death of unarmed civilians across California. More information on the California Department of Justice’s roles and responsibilities under AB 1506 is available here: https://oag.ca.gov/ois-incidents.
A copy of the report issued today is available here.