A police officer in San Leandro, Calif., has been charged and taken into custody for the fatal shooting of a Black man in April.
CBS San Francisco reports that 49-year-old San Leandro police officer Jason Fletcher was taken into custody following a hearing on Tuesday, after being charged with voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting 33-year-old Steven Taylor, a Black man who was wielding a baseball bat in a Walmart. The judge set Fletcher’s bail at $200,000 with a bail hearing being set for next month. Fletcher’s attorney requested that he immediately be allowed to post bail, but that request was denied by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Dickinson.
“It’s justice. Lock him up,” Taylor’s brother Michael told reporters outside court on Tuesday. “I feel a lot of emotions. Mostly sickness and anger. It’s more of the same … Because nothing’s changing. It’s just the same thing over and over again.” Taylor’s mother Sharon believes that officers need better training when it comes to responding to mental health crises. “The way our police should be reformed is to help people with mental illnesses; that when you call an officer on a Black person, it’s not going to end well,” she said in June.
Fletcher is one of the first officers to be charged under a new California law that minimizes what constitutes justified legal use of force by an officer. “The issue was going to be, did he attempt to de-escalate the situation before using lethal force, and the answer is most assuredly he did,” Fletcher’s attorney Michael Rains told reporters.
The San Leandro Police Officers’ Association believes the charges to be politically motivated. “While the District Attorney has mischaracterized the shooting as a ‘failure to attempt de-escalation options,’ we are confident that the evidence will establish that this incident was an unfortunate example of de-escalation techniques simply proving to be ineffective,” the POA said in a statement.
Fletcher shot Taylor within 40 seconds of arriving at the Walmart, after Taylor refused to drop the bat and Fletcher’s taser failed to incapacitate him.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley filed manslaughter charges against Fletcher earlier this month. “A thorough review of the statements of witnesses and involved police officers, physical evidence and the review of multiple videos of the shooting shows that at the time of the shooting it was not reasonable to conclude Mr. Taylor posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to Officer Fletcher or to anyone else in the store,” O’Malley said in a statement.