Anaheim police officers seen firing 76 shots at suspect in bodycam video will not be charged in his death
Bodycam footage obtained from the cameras on Sean Staymates and Kevin Pedersen of the Anaheim Police Department showed the pair fire over 70 shots between them at 50-year-old Eliuth Penaloza Nava
Two police officers who were involved in a fatal shooting last summer in Anaheim, California, will not be facing criminal charges after an investigation by the district attorney's office determined there was not enough evidence to state they were criminally culpable.
Bodycam footage obtained from the cameras on Sean Staymates and Kevin Pedersen of the Anaheim Police Department showed the pair fire over 70 shots between them at 50-year-old Eliuth Penaloza Nava, who they had been told was armed and acting erratically. A detailed report on the incident made by the Orange County District Attorney's Office has cleared them of any wrongdoing.
"It is our legal opinion that there is a lack of sufficient evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt criminal culpability on the part of Officers Staymates and Pedersen when they fatally shot Nava on July 21, 2018," a letter addressed to Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros read.
According to CNN, the department was called into action that July morning after one of Nava's brothers called them to report that the 50-year-old was under the influence of an unknown drug and "hallucinating." He told them that his brother was armed with a gun and a knife and waiting in a truck parked outside their parents' house.
The dash cam and body cam footage which has now been released shows the pair responding to the call in a residential neighborhood in Anaheim.
When they arrive, Staymates sees Nava sit up and start the truck, resulting in him and Pederson exiting their car with weapons drawn and ordering the 50-year-old to stop multiple times.
However, Nava does not comply and drives off, with Staymates and Pederson giving chase.
As the chase ensues, Pedersen can be seen holding his handgun while driving before beginning to fire away at the truck through the windshield of his car. Staymates can be seen firing his rifle as well. The former fired his handgun 64 times, even reloading in between, while the latter fired 12 shots.
The report states they fired because Pedersen saw Nava reach down to the floorboard immediately into the pursuit and then pointing what appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun out the window, directly at them.
However, the 'gun' was later determined to be a CO2-powered air pistol, though it did note that it was "black in color and extremely similar in appearance to an authentic 9mm Luger pistol."
"Officers Pedersen and Staymates both feared Nava was going to shoot and kill them," it was written in the report. "We highly discourage shooting through a windshield but our policy does not state that you cannot, there could be incidents or actions at times where that would be permissible."
Nava sustained nine gunshot wounds from the incident and died on the scene, with the autopsy finding amphetamines and methamphetamines in his blood.
The district attorney ultimately ruled that "both Officer Pedersen and Officer Staymates were justified in believing that Nava posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to both officers and to others," though it was also written that their behavior was "alarming and irresponsible."
While they will not be facing criminal charges, Cisneros said Pederson, who was a probationary officer, has already been dismissed by the department. He also said Staymates would be facing department discipline.