Attorney questions deadly San Leandro police shooting

Questions swirled Monday over whether San Leandro police were justified in fatally shooting a man with a baseball bat inside a Walmart store.

Cell-phone video shows police confronting 33-year-old Steven Taylor, who was armed with a baseball bat inside the Walmart store on Hesperian Boulevard.

S. Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Taylor's family, said Taylor was mentally ill and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Police say an officer first tried to get the bat away from Taylor after being summoned to the store on Saturday afternoon.

"The suspect pulled away. Our officer tased the individual, and it didn't seem to be working," said San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor.

Police say Taylor continued to advance, and the officer shot him once in the chest as a second officer tased him.

After being shot, Taylor dropped the bat. He later fell to to the ground.

Critics say police used excessive force.

"Steven Taylor was killed unnecessarily," said James Burch of the Anti Police-Terror Project. 

Burch said of the officer, "There's so many things he could have done in that situation that were not 'kill Steven Taylor,' but it just seemed that that was what he was trained to do."

Merritt said the police may very well have been justified in shooting Taylor with a gun. But the attorney said police apparently Tased Taylor after he had been shot with a gun.

"At that point, it was their job to surround him and get him help. Instead they administered two more shots. We believe those are Taser shots," Merritt said.

KTVU has learned that Taylor may have wanted to force police to shoot him, in what's known as "suicide by cop."

Sources said Taylor said something to the effect of, "You're going to have to kill me" during his confrontation with officers.

Taylor was a father of three who liked making people laugh, Merritt said.

"His family will miss him dearly. They are broken-hearted," Merritt said.

Tudor said, "When you have a tragic incident like this, it impacts all of us, and nobody wanted this."

Police plan to release body-cam video later this week. The shooting is also under investigation by the Alameda County district attorney's office.