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Officer Charged In Shooting Of Bat-Wielding Attacker

San Leandro, CA – A San Leandro police officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in connection with the officer-involved shooting of a bat-wielding suspect inside a Walmart store.

The confrontation occurred after San Leandro police received a 911 call from the Walmart store on Hesperian Boulevard just before 3:15 p.m. on April 18, San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor said in the bodycam video release.

The caller, who was a member of the store’s security team, told the dispatcher that a man was trying to steal merchandise from the store and was waving a baseball bat around, threatening employees and other customers.

Officers arrived to find 33-year-old Steven Taylor armed with a baseball bat near the front of the inside of the building, Chief Tudor said.

Police repeatedly ordered him to put down the weapon, but he refused.

Cell phone footage shared by the San Leandro Police Department (SLPD) showed an officer as he approached Taylor and told him to put the bat down.

“F—k you, n—-r!” Taylor yelled in the officer’s face as the officer tried to push the armed man’s hand down to his side, the video showed.

The suspect raised the bat as the officer reached for it, bodycam footage showed.

Taylor then pulled away and threatened to hit the officer.

The officer deployed a Taser against the armed suspect, but it was ineffective, Chief Tudor explained.

Taylor repositioned the bat up onto his shoulder, as if preparing to take a swing, the cell phone video showed.

Bystanders yelled at the suspect to stop and to put the bat down, but the suspect was undeterred.

“Mr. Taylor continued to approach the officer while wielding the baseball bat,” he said. “Ultimately, an officer deployed his service weapon and tragically, Mr. Taylor died at the scene.”

The video showed Taylor throw the bat to the floor after he had been shot.

He collapsed to the ground after a second Taser was deployed, bodycam footage showed.

“That’s not worth a life!” a bystander yelled as the officers tried to place Taylor into handcuffs.

Despite being mortally wounded, the suspect fought to keep his left hand pinned beneath him, bodycam footage showed.

Officers rendered medical care until an ambulance arrived at the scene, police said.

Taylor died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced on Sept. 2 that her office has charged SLPD Officer Jason Fletcher with voluntary manslaughter in connection with Taylor’s death.

“The decision to file the criminal complaint was made after an intensive investigation and thorough analysis of the evidence and the current law,” O’Malley said in a press release. “Charging a police officer with Voluntary Manslaughter is not a decision that is made lightly, nor rashly.”

The district attorney said that Officer Fletcher didn’t wait for additional officers to arrive before he intercepted Taylor near the shopping cart area, and argued that Taylor “clearly experienced the shock of the taser” because he was leaning forward and stumbling.

“Mr. Taylor was struggling to remain standing as he pointed the bat at the ground,” O’Malley said. “Mr. Taylor posed no threat of imminent deadly force or serious bodily injury to defendant Fletcher or anyone else in the store.”

O’Malley contended that it “was not reasonable to conclude Mr. Taylor posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury” to anyone at the time of the shooting.

“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 [the law],” she said.

Taylor’s family had demanded that all officers involved in the incident be charged, KPIX reported.

“The way our police should be reformed is to help people with mental illnesses,” his mother, Sharon Taylor, told the new outlet in June. “When you call an officer on a black person, it’s not going to end well.”

Anti-Police Terror Project spokesperson Cat Brooks said that charging Officer Fletcher for Taylor’s death should serve as a warning to other law enforcement officers, KPIX reported.

“I do think it would be an incentive for them to not pull the trigger so fast,” Brooks opined. “Even though our humanity should be that incentive, clearly it has not been.”

Officer Fletcher, a 14-year member of the SLPD, has been placed on administrative leave, Heavy reported.

His attorney, Michael Rains, argued that his client was in fear for his life and that he had every right to defend himself, according to KGO.

“The law doesn’t require officers – even in today’s day and age – to have their brains bashed out with a lethal instrument, which a baseball bat is,” Rains pointed out.

Officer Fletcher’s arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 15, according to WPIX.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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