OAKLAND, Calif. (BCN) - Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said today that her office won't file criminal charges against a BART officer who fatally shot a 28-year-old man near the West Oakland BART station in January, concluding that the evidence doesn't justify charges.
Sahleem Tindle was killed by Officer Joseph Mateu in the shooting in the 1400 block of Seventh Street, across the street from the West Oakland station at about 4:40 p.m. on Jan. 3.
O'Malley today released a 48-page report on the shooting following a lengthy investigation by her office.
Oakland police, who also investigated the shooting, said shortly afterward that Tindle was armed while he was grappling with another man on the sidewalk and refused commands when Mateu shot him.
Tindle, the father of two, was with his children and their mother, walking to BART for a trip to San Francisco January 3, when he got into a fight with another man outside the West Oakland BART Station.
BART police released a video of the shooting on Feb. 21 but there were different interpretations of what it shows.
BART police Chief Carlos Rojas said he believes the video indicates that Tindle didn't have his hands up when Mateu shot him three times and that Tindle didn't raise his hands until after he was shot.
But Tindle's mother Yolanda Banks Reed said she believes the video shows that Tindle's back was turned away from the man he'd been grappling with and that Mateu shot him in the back.
“I have been running, looking for answers, from the time my son was murdered on January 3rd 2018 and I have not let this out,” she said.
“You don't know who did what at the time you're firing,” said John Burris, the family’s attorney. Burris said, based on the video, you can't see who has the fun seconds before Tindle is shot.
“That's the most aggravating component of this whole thing, you just picked one and shot that person in the back, three times,” said Burris.
The district attorney's report says, "The credible and admissible evidence shows that Officer Mateu acted in what he actually and reasonably believed to be self-defense and defense of others. The examined evidence does not support the contention that the shooting of Mr. Tindle was criminal."
Mateu was hired as a community service assistant for BART police in May 2003, was sworn in as a police officer in November 2007 and was promoted to senior police officer in January 2010.
Mateu initially was placed on paid administrative leave but was cleared to return to work two weeks after the shooting.
“In my heart, in my soul, he's already convicted because he'd taken the life of my son that I gave birth to, I carried, that I breastfed,” said Banks Reed.
BART Police Department issued the following statement:
"The BART Police Department fully cooperated with both agencies but was not involved in the work of this independent investigation. BART continues to extend its sympathies to the family of Sahleem Tindle.”
Burris has filed a civil case against the officer alleging both federal and state constitutional violations. They vow to continue to fight for justice, saying it’s about acknowledging that the officer's conduct was inappropriate.
KTVU's Alyana Gomez contributed to this report.