Atascadero, CA – The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office (SLOCSO) has released dashcam footage that captured the moment that an armed man, fueled by a potentially lethal amount of cocaine, was fatally shot by deputies during a traffic stop (video below).
The officer-involved shooting was determined to be justified by San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow in February, according to Dow’s 13-page report.
The incident began at approximately 12:05 a.m. on Jan. 24, 2017, when San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputy Gregory Roach and Deputy Jonathan Calvert spotted a rental vehicle that Deputy Roach recognized.
The license plate matched the vehicle Deputy Roach had seen 34-year-old Josue Gallardo driving during at least one prior encounter.
Deputies had been called to assist Gallardo multiple times for various suicidal threats he had made during a nearly seven-month period prior to the officer-involved shooting.
Dispatch confirmed that Gallardo was the subject of a $25,000 warrant, and that he was also the defendant in two active restraining orders.
Dashcam footage showed the deputies as they pulled up alongside the vehicle while traveling southbound down U.S. Highway 101.
They shined a light into the suspect vehicle, and Deputy Roach recognized Gallardo as the driver, according to Dow’s report.
The wanted suspect was the only occupant inside the car.
The deputies pulled Gallardo over near the Highway 58 exit at 12:08 a.m., and both drew their duty weapons as they approached his vehicle.
As Deputy Calvert made contact with the suspect, Deputy Roach went to the passenger side of the car and shined his flashlight inside.
Gallardo was “tense” and “agitated” from the start, according to the district attorney’s report.
“This is f--ked up, man,” he told Deputy Calvert, who grew concerned that Gallardo was either about to fight or to run away.
“Let me see your hands right now, please,” Deputy Calvert told him, as he covered him with his duty weapon.
“I want you to shoot me,” Gallardo said to him. “I want you to kill me.”
Deputy Calvert told him he did not want to kill him, and ordered him to show his hands.
“Dude, I didn’t do anything wrong man,” Gallardo replied.
The deputy calmly instructed the suspect to get out of the vehicle, and to get down onto the ground, but Gallardo again started telling him to shoot him, the video showed.
“I don’t want to shoot you,” Deputy Calvert replied. “Do you have a gun? Yes or no?”
“A gun?” the suspect asked, without providing an answer.
The deputies ordered Gallardo to show his hands, and Deputy Calvert moved towards the rear portion of the suspect’s vehicle as the driver’s door opened slightly, the video showed.
At the same moment, “Deputy Roach clearly saw Gallardo’s hand move down and toward his right pants pocket,” Dow’s report read.
“With the aid of his flashlight, Roach could clearly see Gallardo’s lower torso area, and saw him reach into his pocket and pull out a gun,” according to the report. “He saw Gallardo swing the gun up and across his body toward the driver’s door, and it appeared that Gallardo was about to shoot Deputy Calvert.”
Deputy Roach began firing into the vehicle, and Deputy Calvert followed suit, the video showed.
“Deputy Roach continued to fire until he saw Gallardo’s body fall forward and slump toward the right of the steering wheel,” the district attorney noted.
He fired a total of 15 rounds into the vehicle, and Deputy Calvert fired 20 rounds.
The deputies backed away from the vehicle and waited for additional officers to arrive at the scene.
Deputy Roach then approached the vehicle and recovered a Legends BB pistol from Gallardo’s right hand.
He checked for a pulse, but was unable to detect one.
Gallardo was pronounced dead at the scene just after 12:30 a.m.
An autopsy revealed that Gallardo bled to death due to 12 gunshot wounds caused by 7 bullets. The fatal round entered the back, right side of his head, then exited just above his left eyebrow.
“Gallardo had 1.05 grams of cocaine in his right shoe, as well as a ‘potentially toxic’ level of cocaine in his blood at the time of his death,” the district attorney’s report read.
More cocaine was located at the hotel room where Gallardo had been staying.
Investigators found a suicide note in the trunk of Gallardo’s vehicle after the officer-involved shooting, according to Dow’s report.
He wrote that he wanted to end his life because he discovered that his wife, Frances, had been cheating on him for seven months, and noted that he was also struggling with drug addiction.
“First of I'm very sorry to my family for taking the cowards way out, mainly my 2 boys, my great mother, my 3 sisters, and my brother,” Gallardo wrote. “Yes my kids are the most important thing but everything that's going on is to overwhemly.”
Investigators discovered that Gallardo started using cocaine, and that he had lost a job he had held for 14 years shortly before the altercation with police, Dow’s report read.
He had purchased the weapon at the Paso Robles Wal-Mart about a week earlier.
Gallardo’s widow, Frances, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the department in November of 2018, KSBY reported.
She alleged that the deputies wrongfully detained her husband and claimed that they used excessive force during the encounter.
The lawsuit further argued that the deputies were aware that the suspect “was a non-violent individual who was battling depression and suicidal ideation at the time,” according to KSBY.
“Josh was a loving father and a valued member of his community,” Frances’ attorneys said in a statement on Saturday.
“Reports suggesting that he was suicidal miss the point: law enforcement officers do not get to kill suicidal people and need to be properly trained to deal with this common mental health scenario,” the statement read. “We intend to aggressively litigate this case, shedding light on the problematic professional pasts of these officers and the clear unconstitutional killing of Josh.”
The attorneys alleged that “County officials” have attempted to “push” a “self-serving” narrative, and claimed that the county’s version of events is “unsupported by the evidence.”
“Josh’s death was a tragedy for his family and we hope future news coverage is respectful and avoids rumor-mongering and victim-blaming,” the statement concluded.
You can watch the deputies’ encounter with Gallardo in the video below. The shooting happens at around the 2:50 mark. WARNING - Graphic Content