Santa Ana, CA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has determined that a Santa Ana police officer was justified when he used deadly force against a methamphetamine-fueled suspect armed with a metal pipe (video below).
Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Gary Logalbo outlined his findings in a letter to Santa Ana Police Chief David Valentin on Feb. 28.
The incident began at approximately 10:52 p.m. on July 1, 2018, when 46-year-old Donadony Blake Taylor strolled into the Orange County Sheriff Department’s (OCSD) Central Men’s Jail (CMJ) and looked through the window of the locked staff entrance door.
“In his left hand, Taylor was carrying a two to three foot long metal pipe and a one to two foot metal stake in his right hand,” Logalbo said.
One of the department’s staff members asked him if he needed help, and Taylor said that he “need[ed] to speak to someone regarding some assistance,” according to the investigative findings.
He refused to elaborate on what kind of assistance he needed, then began yanking on the handle of the locked door in an attempt to gain entry, surveillance footage showed.
Taylor initially ignored the employee’s request for him to leave the lobby, but he ultimately walked outside and out of the view of the camera, Logalbo said.
He wandered over to a parking structure adjacent to the sheriff’s department, where a witness reported seeing him trying to break into vehicles at approximately 11:30 p.m.
Taylor was still armed with the metal objects when Santa Ana Officer Gavin Roelofs pulled up next to him in his marked patrol vehicle.
Bodycam footage showed Officer Roelofs as he exited his cruiser and ordered Taylor to “put the pipe down.”
The officer remained on the driver’s side of his patrol vehicle, creating a barrier between himself and Taylor, who simply continued walking with the pipe resting on his left shoulder, the video showed.
With his duty weapon drawn, Officer Roelofs radioed dispatch that he had the suspect at gunpoint.
“Put the pipe down now!” he ordered repeatedly.
“Shoot me,” Taylor casually replied. “Shoot me.”
As the armed suspect stood on the opposite side of the patrol vehicle, Officer Roelofs continued to issue commands.
“Put the f--king pipe down, dude,” he finally warned.
Taylor then took a batter's stance and began swinging the pipe, at which point the officer discharged his Taser, striking him.
“Taylor did not fall and appeared unaffected by the Taser,” Logalbo noted.
He pulled one of the probes out of his body in a motion that showed up pulling up form his waistband just before Officer Roelofs fired two rounds at him.
The pipe clanged on the cement as Taylor collapsed onto the ground, the video showed.
As the officers approached the wounded suspect, one officer “kicked the two metal pieces away” from his reach,” Logalbo said.
Investigators recovered two 23-inch metal bars, a piece of wire, and a 42-inch metal pipe at the scene.
Taylor was transported to the Orange County Global Medical Center with gunshot wounds to his upper chest and left upper arm, and was pronounced dead at 12:25 a.m.
Toxicology results determined he was under the influence of methamphetamine and amphetamine at the time of his death.
According to the report, Taylor had previously been charged for entering the United States illegally.
He racked up multiple arrests since 2009, including domestic violence battery, possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, obstructing a peace officer, being under the influence of a controlled substance, hit-and-run, battery, and inflicting corporal injury.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, Officer Roelofs could have reasonably believed Taylor posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to himself and others at the moment he fired his handgun,” Logalbo said in the report. “This conclusion is based on the totality of the circumstances, but mainly based on the conduct of Taylor in the moments leading up to the shooting.”
“There is insufficient evidence to support the filing of criminal charges [against the officer] in this case,” he concluded.
You can watch bodycam footage of Officer Roelofs’ encounter with Taylor in the video below. WARNING - Graphic Content: