SAN DIEGO - The wife of a man who was shot and killed by a San Diego police officer last summer says she is disappointed that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has determined the use of lethal force was justified.
"My whole family is very devastated because we were under the impression that she was going to actually look into it to determine if the police department was lying or not. But she just took their report and said this is what happened," said Shakina Ortega.
Ortega's husband, Victor, was shot two times by San Diego police Officer Jonathan McCarthy after a chase and struggle in Mira Mesa that began with a domestic violence call and ended in death.
In a letter to San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, Dumanis concludes: "During this incident, Officer Jonathan McCarthy responded to an emergency call of a man beating his wife. When the officer spotted Mr. Ortega, he ran after and caught up to Ortega in a fenced and gated breezeway. A struggle ensued when McCarthy made efforts to arrest Ortega. During the struggle, the officer's back-up revolver fell out of its holster and onto the pavement. When Ortega reached for the revolver, McCarthy released his hold on Ortega, rose to one knee, and drew and pointed his pistol at Ortega. When Mr. Ortega reached for and tried grabbing McCarthy's pistol, McCarthy fired twice. Ortega was struck by the gunfire and died on the scene.
"Based on the totality of the circumstances and evidence available, we find it reasonable to conclude that Officer McCarthy fired at Mr. Ortega while attempting to arrest Ortega and in self-defense. Therefore, Officer McCarthy bears no criminal liability for his actions."
Ortega's widow and her attorney claim that conclusion was based on the police investigation, and that the District Attorney did not even interview a single witness to corroborate or dispute the story.
"The DA is letting the police officer get away with it and putting out a message to the police department that you can do whatever you want because when you don't look into whether they're lying or not it's like you don't care," said Ortega's widow.
The Ortega family has already filed a federal lawsuit claiming civil rights violations, including discrimination. The suit lists wrongful death, assault and battery and negligence on the part of police and asks for unspecified damages.
"We're going to fight till we get justice," said Shakina Ortega. "It doesn't end with Bonnie Dumanis."
A spokesman for Dumanis sent the following statement to 10News:
"District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis met with the Ortega family on two occasions and explained that the purpose of the District Attorney's review is to provide an independent review of all shootings and other use of deadly force, fatal and non-fatal, to assure the public that peace officers in San Diego County are performing their duties in a legally justified manner. That's what conducted in this case, just as we do in every officer-involved shooting."