Just in time for the Christmas holidays, the Orange County District Attorney has released a pair of reports that clear Orange County cops in two more officer-involved shootings. Nothing unusual there, of course. So far, not a single cop in Orange County has been charged with wrongful homicide in connection with any shooting that occurred while the officer was on duty.
However, as you'll see, neither of these cases exactly scream "cover-up."
The most recent of the two shootings occurred on Jan. 19, 2012, and ended the life of one Roscoe Cambridge, 29, of Anaheim Hills. According to the report, Cambridge was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had been living out of his car for several months and, while not known to have violent tendencies, had told relatives that, "If another policeman ever comes after me again, I'm going to do something, there will be blood."
At about 1:15 p.m., Cambridge allegedly stalked up to a parked Anaheim police car just outside the police station, carrying a steak knife with a six-inch-to-eight-inch blade. Sitting in the car was Sgt. Michael Bustamante, who had just ended his shift and was about to go into the station. Bustamante saw Cambridge walking to vehicle and noticed the "flash" of the blade, and when Cambridge came to his driver's side window, he shot him three times.
Various eyewitnesses to the shooting only saw Bustamante shooting Cambdrige, not what led to his decision to pull the trigger. However, as the DA's report makes clear, officers are trained that anyone who is armed and within 21 feet is fair game to shoot, because at that distance, someone with a knife can cut you in 2 seconds, roughly the time it takes to unholster, aim and fire a sidearm.
Based on the retrieval of the knife at the scene, standard shooting guidelines, Bustamante's statements, and Cambridge's mental health history, the DA found no evidence of wrongdoing by the officer.
On now to the sad case of Edward Royle.
On the morning of Sept. 9, 2011, Garden Grove
police officers arrived at the home of Royle, 76, after his wife called 911 saying her husband had a gun and intended to commit suicide. As it turned out, Royle had recently suffered a heart attack and was deemed too old to benefit from a transplant. He was depressed, and the cops found him pacing around his backyard with a six-shot revolver.
First, officers tried to talk to Royle, asking him to put down the weapon. But as more officers arrived, Royle became agitated. He told the cops that he'd either shoot himself or they'd have to do it for him. Then Royle started lifting his weapon as if to fire, only to lower it again. Then he began actually pointing it at various officers. Out came the beanbag guns and cries of "less-lethal," as the cops struggled to incapacitate Royle.
When that didn't work, and when Royle continued to threaten the cops with his revolver, two of the officers fired a total of nine shots at him with their handguns. But none of those shots hit Royle, who proceeded to point his revolver at his head. Yet another officer attempted to stop Royle by firing more beanbag rounds at his head, but they had no effect, and Royle finally pulled the trigger, shooting himself in the temple, thus ending the tragic incident.
Based on the totality of the evidence--not the least of which is the fact that ballistics confirmed that Royle shot himself in the head and none of the officer's lethal rounds so much as scratched his body--the DA found no evidence of any wrongdoing by any officer at the scene.
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