February 10, 2024 – OAKLAND, CA – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506), on Friday released a report on Samuel Soto's death from an officer involved shooting in Los Angeles, California, on July 26, 2021, involving the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The report is part of the California Department of Justice's (DOJ) ongoing efforts to provide transparency and accountability in law enforcement practices. The report provides a detailed analysis of the incident and outlines DOJ's findings. After a thorough investigation, DOJ concluded that criminal charges were not appropriate in this case. However, DOJ recognizes the important lessons to be learned from this incident. As required by AB 1506, the Attorney General has issued specific policy and practice recommendations related to the incident.
"The loss of life is always a tragedy. We understand that this incident was difficult for everyone involved, including the family of Mr. Soto, law enforcement, and the community at large," said Attorney General Bonta. "Our hope is that this report will offer some clarity and facilitate our collective progress towards a California that is safer and more equitable. The California Department of Justice continues to be dedicated to collaborating with all participants in order to guarantee that our legal system is impartial, open, and responsible to every individual residing in California.”
On July 26, 2021, LAPD officers responded to an assault with a deadly weapon call. Mr. Soto was shot by officers at around 8:50 p.m., and he died from his injuries on November 2, 2021. Under AB 1506, which requires DOJ to investigate all incidents of officer-involved shootings resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state, DOJ conducted a thorough investigation into this incident and concluded that the evidence does not show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers involved acted without the intent to defend themselves and others from what they reasonably believed to be imminent death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the officers. As such, no further action will be taken in this case.
As part of its investigation, DOJ has identified several policy recommendations that it believes will help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
These recommendations include:
- Use and Care of Electronic Control Devices (TASER):LAPD should evaluate whether the responding officers properly followed policies, processes, and procedures, and had taken the appropriate trainings related to TASERs, at the time of this incident. Moreover, given that all but one officer lacked fully charged or functioning TASERs, LAPD should further ensure no systemic issues exist with respect to the availability of fully charged and functional TASERs. Finally, LAPD should ensure its officers are in full compliance with LAPD’s new TASER policy. DOJ believes these policy recommendations will help improve public safety while promoting trust and accountability in our justice system.
- Communication and MEU Response:LAPD should consider working with Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) on improving dispatch communication, which could include evaluating changes to training and policy on calls that intersect both agencies.
A copy of the report can be found here.
Source: CA DOJ