San Leandro POA says D.A.'s decision to charge officer with involuntary manslaughter 'politically motivated'

A San Leandro police officer pulls a gun and a Taser on Steven Taylor in Walmart on April 18, 2020

On Monday, San Leandro Police Officers' Association issued a press release where they first expressed condolences for the family and friends of Steven Taylor, a Black man who was shot and killed by a police officer inside a Walmart store back in April. 

But towards the end of the release, the POA lashed out at Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley who charged Officer Jason Fletcher with voluntary manslaughter, calling the decision "politically motivated and legally deficient."   

The POA said they disagree with O'Malley's characterization that this incident was a failure by police to attempt de-escalation techniques. 

As the POA put it, "...we are confident that the evidence will establish that this incident was an unfortunate example of de-escalation techniques simply proving to be ineffective."

The police union also said officers are sometimes left with no option but to make split-second decisions to use deadly force to defend themselves and the public. 

On April 14, police responded to a call of Taylor, who was mentally ill, wielding a baseball bat inside the store. Prosecutors said Fletcher did not wait for backup, after warning Taylor to drop the bat. He used a Taser against Taylor and then shot him in the chest in less than 40 seconds. 

California's police officer use of force standards are outlined in AB392, which was signed into law in August 2019. The law redefined the circumstances under which a homicide by officers is deemed justifiable. It also details when an officer can use deadly force in order to arrest someone, prevent escape, or to overcome resistance. As a result, deadly force should only be used when necessary.