On August 15, 2018, a jury in Sacramento found that a Los Banos police officer used unreasonable force in the shooting death of a Los Banos man in September 2013.
The original incident occurred on September 2, 2013 at approximately 3:00 p.m. when police were called to a residence regarding the assault of an 80-year-old man. The victim reported he had been assaulted by his 43-year-old son at his residence where he and his son both lived.
Officer Jairo Acosta responded and while conducting his investigation inside the home, the son, armed with a pair of scissors, attacked Officer Acosta, stabbing him in his left arm causing an injury.
The officer drew his firearm and a struggle ensued between the Officer and the suspect over the firearm. Fearing for his safety, the Officer discharged his weapon twice, striking the suspect in the left leg and the chest.
Emergency medical personnel were summoned to the scene and rendered first aid the suspect who was later airlifted to a Modesto area hospital. The suspect passed during surgery. Officer Acosta was treated for an injury to his left arm at a local hospital and later released.
In court, the jury found that the Officer was in fact stabbed in the arm as he fired a round striking the suspects leg, but the jury was unclear as to whether the Officer was under immediate threat when he fired the second round; the round that caused the suspects death.
The jury awarded $2.75 million dollars in damages to the family, but assessed no punitive damages against the Officer. The jury also found that the suspect was comparatively at fault for attacking the Officer initially, which will reduce the final verdict by 30%.
All life is valuable and the use of deadly force is never taken lightly at the Los Banos Police Department but we respectfully disagree with the verdict and stand by Officer Acosta and believe that he acted in self-defense in his use of lethal force during a sequence of events that lasted less than a minute.
After discussions with trial counsel, an appeal will be filled on the verdict, and until the appeal is concluded, no further information will be released.