A patrolman's non-lethal shooting of a 19-year-old who allegedly came at him with a dagger on a Southcrest roadside last spring was a legally justified act of self-defense, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' office concluded in a ruling released Wednesday.
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San Diego police Officer Eduardo Lopez was responding to a report of a man threatening people with a gun in the 1500 block of South 39th Street shortly before 11:30 p.m. on March 17 when he spotted Jeremy McIntyre walking through the area, Deputy District Attorney Damon Mosler wrote in a letter to San Diego Police Department Chief William Lansdowne.
Because McIntyre matched the description of the armed man and appeared to be carrying something in his waistband, Lopez stopped his squad car, got out, approached him and told him to put his hands in the air.
Instead, from a distance of about three feet, McIntyre allegedly pulled a "ninja"-style knife and thrust it toward the uniformed officer's face, Mosler stated in his legal analysis.
Lopez responded by stepping back, pulling his pistol and firing two shots. McIntyre fell to the ground, wounded.
Medics took McIntyre to a trauma center for treatment of non-lethal gunshot injuries. A subsequent blood test showed the presence of methamphetamine in his system.
Lopez told investigators McIntyre had swung his weapon, which Lopez at the time thought was either a dagger or a gun, to within about three inches of his head.
The two brothers who earlier had been confronted by McIntyre reported that he had threatened them with an object they believed was a black pistol.
Under California law, peace officers may use lethal force to protect themselves and others from threats of great bodily harm or death, Mosler noted in his ruling.
During his confrontation with McIntyre, Lopez had reason to believe he was in imminent mortal danger, Mosler asserted in the letter.
"Based on these circumstances, it is apparent (that) Officer Lopez fired at Mr. McIntyre in self-defense," Mosler stated. "He therefore bears no criminal liability for his actions."
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