SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KTVU) - A San Leandro police officer charged in the shooting death of a Black man inside a Walmart store was jailed Tuesday morning but later released.
Officer Jason Fletcher released on a $200,000 bond for the killing of 33-year-old Steven Taylor on April 18.
Fletcher appeared at Alameda County Superior Court where he was arraigned on a voluntary manslaughter charge lodged by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
Fletcher is a veteran officer and will be one of the first in California prosecuted under new state law that narrows the conditions in which fatal force can be used.
San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher is being held on $200K bail for the shooting death of Steven Taylor inside a Walmart.
"I believe Officer Fletcher's actions, coupled with his failure to attempt other de-escalation options, rendered his use of deadly force unreasonable," Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said after filing the charges.
Fletcher had responded to a call about an alleged shoplifter inside a Walmart on Hesperian Boulevard who was holding a baseball bat.
Fletcher had shouted, "back up, drop the bat man" as he approached Taylor and tried to wrestle the bat away from him.
Taylor's family said he was suffering a mental health crisis.
"In his own police report, the officer said Taylor wasn't stealing or up to any criminal misconduct, but in his words, seemed to be somebody who had lost touch with reality," said attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represents Taylor's family.
Prosecutors said Fletcher did not wait for backup to arrive and instead grabbed the bat from Taylor, shot him with a Taser then shot him in the chest with his firearm, all in less than 40 seconds.
The officer's attorney Michael Rains said he was "deeply disappointed" by the charges. He said prosecutors have "essentially succumbed to mob rule."
He said officers shouldn't have to wait until they are attacked with a deadly weapon like a baseball bat before defending themselves.
The day before Fletcher was arraigned, the San Leandro Police Officers' Association expressed condolences for Taylor's family and friend's but said the district attorney's decision to charge the officer was "politically motivated and legally deficient."