A police officer in San Leandro, California, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a Black man wielding a baseball bat inside a Walmart, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced Wednesday. Officer Jason Fletcher shot and killed 33-year-old Steven Demarco Taylor on April 18.
“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 recorded statement. “I believe Officer Fletcher’s actions, coupled with his failure to attempt other de-escalation options rendered his use of deadly force unreasonable and a violation of Penal Code Section 192(a), Voluntary Manslaughter.”
Officers were called to the Walmart located on the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay Area when Taylor allegedly tried to leave the store without paying, CBS San Francisco previously reported. Bodycam footage shows police telling Taylor multiple times to drop the baseball bat he was holding, but Taylor continues holding the bat. Officers then use Tasers on Taylor twice, but he continued to advance toward the officers. Fletcher then shoots Taylor once in the chest, causing him to drop the bat. Another officer used a third Taser on Taylor after he was shot.
“I know the loss of Steven Taylor has deeply affected this community,” San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor said in a statement Wednesday. “Today, the District Attorney has charged Officer Jason Fletcher with voluntary manslaughter. It is important that we allow the judicial process to take its course.”
Taylor’s family had previously called for the officers involved to face charges for the shooting.
“They committed a crime, they murdered my grandson! If you murdered someone, you would be in jail,” Kitchen added.
The family also called for police reform, including training police officers to be better prepared to deal with people having mental health issues.
“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,” said Taylor’s mother, Sharon Taylor.
Fletcher is set to be arraigned September 15.