The District Attorney is the public prosecutor, charged with initiating and conducting on behalf of the People all prosecutions for public offenses. This duty includes prosecuting law enforcement officers who commit crimes.
California law permits officers to use reasonable force to carry out their duties. If an officer uses more force than the law allows, that officer can be charged with a crime. The role of the District Attorney is to evaluate the evidence, determine whether a crime can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and prosecute the case if warranted. The role of the District Attorney limits the review of any incident to determining whether the officer committed a crime when he or she used force. The District Attorney does not consider issues of civil liability, police tactics, or police policy and procedure.
When an officer uses deadly force in Yuba or Sutter Counties, a bi-county team known as the Yuba Sutter Officer Involved Shooting (“OIS”) Investigation Team is activated to investigate the incident. The OIS investigation team is led by the Chief Investigators from the offices of the Yuba and Sutter County District Attorneys. The team is comprised of peace officers from each of the member agencies, including the Yuba City Police Department, Sutter and Yuba County Sheriffs’ Offices, and the Sutter and Yuba County District Attorneys’ Offices. Investigators on the team are all experienced officers with specialized training in investigating critical incidents. The bi-county team is unique in California, providing an unparalleled level of unbiased and professional investigation into officer involved shooting incidents. In comparison, most law enforcement agencies in California simply investigate their own officer involved shootings.
Once the OIS Investigation Team completes the investigation, the reports and evidence are forwarded to the District Attorney. These reports are extensive, often filling multiple large binders, and accompanied by video or audio recordings of witness interviews, hundreds of photographs, dispatch records, and forensic analysis results from the Department of Justice crime lab.
At the conclusion of the investigation and review, the District Attorney’s Office will either charge the involved officers with a crime or issue a written report detailing the factual and legal findings that legally justified the use of force or prevented filing a criminal case. These report are made available to the public.
Officer-Involved Shooting Reports:
April 6, 2018 (Jonathan Alexander)