Felony charges were announced Wednesday against a Bay Area police officer who fatally shot a man more than two years ago, officials said. The same officer was placed on administrative leave last month after he shot a man who later died.
The officer, Andrew Hall, of the Danville Police Department in California, was charged with felony voluntary manslaughter and felony assault with a semiautomatic firearm in the shooting death of Laudemer Arboleda in 2018, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Officer Hall is a deputy with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and was assigned to the Police Department in Danville, whose police services have been provided through the sheriff’s office since the town was incorporated in 1982.
During a news conference on Wednesday, the district attorney, Diana Becton, explained why charges were filed more than two years after the shooting: “It took time due to the backlog of prior law enforcement-involved fatal incidents my office is investigating. I am doing everything that I can to end this backlog and to ensure our independent investigations conclude in an expeditious manner.”
She said the timing of the charges against Officer Hall, which were announced one day after a jury found the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd last May, was “mere coincidence.”
However, Officer Hall’s lawyer, Harry S. Stern, said in an email on Thursday that the decision to file charges appeared “overtly political” in light of the verdict in Mr. Chauvin’s trial.
An arrest warrant was issued for Officer Hall and his bail was set at $220,000, the release said.
In November 2018, the police in Danville responded to a call that Mr. Arboleda had rung the doorbell of a residence and was lingering in the area, according to the district attorney’s office.
Mr. Arboleda left the area in a car and officers initiated a traffic stop. When officers approached the car, Mr. Arboleda drove away, prompting additional patrol cars to join the pursuit. Officer Hall, who was not involved in the initial traffic stop, parked his vehicle in front of the oncoming low-speed chase. As Mr. Arboleda maneuvered his car between Officer Hall’s car and another police vehicle, the officer repeatedly fired his semiautomatic pistol at Mr. Arboleda, who then crashed into another vehicle. Mr. Arboleda, who was shot nine times, was found unresponsive in his car and later pronounced dead.
On Wednesday, Ms. Becton said Officer Hall had used “unreasonable and unnecessary force” in responding to the traffic pursuit involving Mr. Arboleda.
“Officer Hall’s actions underscore the need for a continued focus on de-escalation training and improved coordinated responses to individuals suffering from mental illness,” she said.
The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on Thursday.
John Burris, a lawyer for Mr. Arboleda’s family, said on Thursday that he was disappointed that charges against Officer Hall had not been filed earlier.
Last month, Officer Hall was placed on paid administrative leave after he shot a man, Tyrell Wilson, who the sheriff’s office said had opened a folding knife and advanced toward him. Footage of the police encounter was released on Wednesday. Mr. Wilson died days after the shooting, which remains under investigation.
Danville officials, including Mayor Renee Morgan, said in a statement on Wednesday that they regretted the incidents that brought the deaths of Mr. Arboleda and Mr. Wilson.
“Our hope is that moving forward from these incidents, we will be able to build to a better methodology in handling these issues within our community,” the statement said.