Wednesday, 12 June 2024

District attorney concludes officer-involved shooting was justified

CLEARLAKE – An investigation conducted by the Lake County District Attorney's Office has concluded that a Clearlake Police officer who shot a man last September was justified in doing so.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins released the report Wednesday involving the shooting of Sean Christian Pryor.


Last Sept. 30 several officers arrived at the scene on 33rd Avenue on a report from Pryor's brother, who reported that Pryor had threatened his life, Hopkins' report recounted.


Pryor, who threatened to kill the officers, was alleged to have been armed with a large kitchen knife and appeared to be preparing to assault other officers on the scene when he was shot, according to the report.


He also had allegedly thrown a table leg at an officer and sprayed the front linoleum entryway with charcoal lighter fluid, Hopkins noted.


A total of seven bullet casings were recovered, which was consistent with the number of bullets missing from the .40-caliber Glock pistol belonging to one of the officers. Hopkins said another officer also fired a Taser during the incident.


The names of the officers involved weren't released in the report.


“Based upon the investigation, it is my legal opinion that the officer who shot Mr. Pryor had a reasonable belief, under the circumstances, that it was necessary to use deadly force to prevent Mr. Pryor from causing imminent death or great bodily injury by stabbing that officer or others with the large kitchen knife,” Hopkins wrote. “This would constitute a complete defense to any criminal charges, and based upon that, the District Attorney would not be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and will not be filing any charges against any of the officers.”


Pryor, 27, was arrested Jan. 4 on felony charges of obstructing or resisting an officer. He remains in the Lake County Jail on $300,000 bond, according to jail records.


Hopkins' full report is reprinted below.




IN THE MATTER OF THE NON-FATAL SHOOTING OF SEAN PRYOR

LAKE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S FINAL REPORT

 

 

On September 30, 2009, at about 10:02 a.m., in the City of Clearlake, Clearlake Police Department Officers were dispatched to a call for service at 16382 33rd Avenue, Clearlake, CA. During this incident, Sean Christian Pryor suffered non-lethal gun shot wounds from a Clearlake Police Officer. The Lake County District Attorney’s office was contacted by the Clearlake Police Department and asked to assume the responsibility for the criminal investigation under the Lake County Protocol for Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incidents. We assumed responsibility for that investigation and at the conclusion have determined that the shooting was justified under the circumstances, based on the appearance that Mr. Pryor was about to stab one of the officers who had responded to the scene. Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed against the officer who shot Mr. Pryor, or any of the officers involved in the incident.


Mr. Pryor’s brother contacted Clearlake Police Department during the morning of September 30. 2009, to report his concerns about Mr. Pryor’s behavior. Their mother had left the residence September 29th, saying she could not deal with him. The brother went to the residence the morning of September 30th to check on Mr. Pryor and reported that his life was threatened by Mr. Pryor, who had a broken table leg. He believed that there might be a machete in the house, and said that Mr. Pryor was destroying the house. The brother further reported that Mr. Pryor had a previous incident where he fought with officers and had to be tased. The brother provided a key to the door for police use.


Clearlake Police Officers arrived at the residence and attempted to talk to Mr. Pryor and gain entrance to the house, but he would not open the door. Mr. Pryor was extremely agitated, yelled curse words and threatened to kill the officers. The officers persisted in attempts to convince Mr. Pryor to open the door, but continued to hear yelling and objects being thrown inside the residence. When they were unable to get cooperation from Mr. Pryor, a plan for entering through the front door, with officers stationed at the back door, was made. Four officers were at each door when the front door was opened.


As the officers opened the door, Mr. Pryor threw a chair leg and hit one of them on the shin. Mr. Pryor had sprayed the front linoleum entryway with charcoal lighter fluid, and when the first officer entered the door, he lost his footing and fell just as Mr. Pryor threw a wadded paper or rag at him that opened up as it reached the officer and hit him in the chest.

 

Three of the four entering officers had handguns pulled, and the fourth had a taser equipped with video and audio recording. After Mr. Pryor was first seen, he briefly disappeared into a hallway and then quickly reappeared. The first officer saw Mr. Pryor with a knife in his raised hand as the officer was falling. Mr. Pryor continued to approach, and the officer fired his handgun until he saw Mr. Pryor fall to the floor. The officer with the taser fired it as he heard the shots, and the fourth officer saw a large knife on the floor near the right side of Mr. Pryor after he fell to the floor. That officer stepped over Mr. Pryor, announced the presence of the knife and kicked it away and down the hallway. A cigarette lighter was found near Mr. Pryor, and a fire extinguisher was found placed at the front door.


The officers began to administer first aid and called for medical personnel to respond.


Two Senior Criminalists from the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, and the Evidence Technician from Clearlake Police Department assisted in the processing of the scene with four Lake County District Attorney Investigators. The house and yard were littered with destroyed household items, and antipsychotic medication and marijuana were found. Seven casings consistent with the seven rounds missing from the first officer’s handgun were found. There was no evidence of any of the other officers firing their firearm. Bullets were collected along with a Bic lighter, large kitchen knife, fire extinguisher and broken chair leg. An open container of charcoal starter fluid was documented. The taser was collected and the video and audio were reviewed. All officers were interviewed, including two Lake County Sheriff Deputies who responded and were stationed at the back door, along with Mr. Pryor’s brother and several neighbors.


After a review of the investigation, I believe the evidence shows that only one officer fired all of the shots which struck Mr. Pryor from a .40 caliber Glock pistol. Based upon the investigation, it is my legal opinion that the officer who shot Mr. Pryor had a reasonable belief, under the circumstances, that it was necessary to use deadly force to prevent Mr. Pryor from causing imminent death or great bodily injury by stabbing that officer or others with the large kitchen knife. This would constitute a complete defense to any criminal charges, and based upon that, the District Attorney would not be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and will not be filing any charges against any of the officers.

 

 

May 5, 2010

Jon E. Hopkins

District Attorney



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