FAIRFIELD — It has been nearly a month since the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man in his Gold Coast Drive home on the night of April 23.
The investigation into the killing of 51-year-old Robert J. McMullan by Fairfield Police Officer Adam Ponce has not been finalized and it could be months before Solano County District Attorney Donald du Bain reports if the shooting was justified or not justified.
When a local law enforcement official is involved in a critical incident, including an officer-involved shooting, a very specific protocol is followed to investigate and review the case. Officer-involved shootings are investigated by each agency together with an independent agency, which in Solano County is the District Attorney’s Office.
Earlier this month, the Daily Republic made a California Public Records Act request asking du Bain for the reports of each of the 10 officer-involved shootings in Solano County during the past five years in which someone was wounded or killed. Du Bain responded by saying the reports are exempt from being made public, but that the letters his office sends to the various agencies reporting the results of the investigations are public.
Since 2007, du Bain and his predecessor, David Paulson, have concluded that each officer-involved shooting was justified. Du Bain signed off on the completed officer-involved shooting investigations since 2010. Paulson signed off on the other six between 2007 and 2009. Six of the shootings involved Vallejo police officers, two involved Fairfield cops and Benicia and Suisun City police departments each had one officer-involved shooting.
In each case, the officer’s full cooperation in the investigation is noted along with a review of the evidence that “clearly indicates that the officer was legally justified in the use of deadly force” and that the officer’s actions were always “lawful.” Most of the time, deaths or shooting injuries are noted to be the result of the shooting victim’s own misconduct.
The investigations begin within hours of the shootings, with district attorney investigators called at home when shootings happen after hours. The earliest some reports have been finalized is after six months, but a few have taken nearly a year and a half to finalize. The notable exception to that time frame is the most recent finalized report — the Feb. 15 shooting of 62-year-old Glenda Josselson, which was finalized in six weeks.
A check of court records reflect no wrongful death lawsuits or other civil litigation have been filed against officers or their departments for any of the shootings.
Officer-involved shootings in the last three years follow:
Fairfield police officers Adam Ponce and Tom Shackford went to Josselson’s Hilborn Road apartment complex following up on a recent burglary of her ex-husband’s home.
Josselson was returning home around 8:20 p.m. and was driving through the apartment parking lot when she encountered the officers. Police say she ignored repeated commands to get out of her car. Josselson has said police are fabricating their version of events and no such commands were made. She tried to turn her car around, and Ponce fired several shots at Josselson, striking her in both arms. Police say Josselson tried to run Ponce down. She has said the shooting was unprovoked and that she did nothing wrong.
“Ms. Josselson’s injuries cannot be attributed to any unlawful or improper conduct on the part of the officer. . . . The shooting was clearly justified,” a letter to Chief Walt Tibbet noted.
Josselson was arrested and charged with felony assault and battery on a peace officer and other felony charges and is set for a May 29 probable cause hearing.
Police got a call from the Suisun Senior Center shortly before 11:30 a.m. stating that Ararao, 55, had shown a woman there a gun and told her he was “going on assignment.”
A pair of Suisun City police officers confronted Ararao, saw he had a gun and ordered him to drop the gun. Vera arrived and also shouted out for Ararao to drop his gun. He did not, and Vera fired several shots at him.
Ararao was unhurt but also continued to wave and point his gun. Vera fired one more shot, striking Ararao in the chest and killing him.
A group of teens were working on a music video outside a tattoo shop near Sonoma Boulevard and Kentucky Street around 3 p.m. The shop owner noticed that one man in the group had a gun and called police.
Tribble drove to the shop and saw Jarreau, 34, leave the group and run into a nearby alley. Tribble followed him, repeatedly shouting for Jarreau to stop. Jarreau stopped, turned and flashed a pearl-handled revolver. Tribble shot Jarreau once in the chest, killing him.
The officer “had no choice,” said a civilian witness seated in a car at the entrance to the alley. The witness said he was afraid Jarreau was going to shoot at him.
Inocencio, 33, was in a group of 800 to 1,000 gathered in North Vallejo Community Park, celebrating Mac Dre Day around 9 p.m. when a man was robbed and shot.
Police arriving at the shooting scene saw Inocencio running away. Rodriguez chased Inocencio, who dropped a gun, picked it up and continued running. Inocencio stopped, turned and pointed the gun at the officers. He was shot twice and wounded.
Inocencio later pleaded no contest to felony assault on a peace officer and brandishing a firearm.
Minutes after a 3 p.m. armed robbery on Sheridan Street, Merrida, an ex-con and parolee, was spotted by Melville. He matched the description of one of the robbers and was standing on a nearby street corner.
Melville saw a gun in Merrida’s hand. It turned out to be a replica handgun. Merrida started to run away, but turned around and ran toward Melville. Merrida raised his gun and Melville shot him once in the chest.
Merrida, who was wounded, still faces pending felony charges. In February, he was declared mentally incompetent and was sent to a secured state mental hospital.
Police went to Lindsey’s home shortly after midnight to arrest him for being the getaway driver for a friend who shot and killed a man at a 2008 birthday party in Benicia. Police ordered Lindsey, 21, to come out of his Scenic Drive home.
When Lindsey walked out the front door, he was holding a replica gun that he leveled at police, who shot him several times. He was critically wounded but survived and later pleaded no contest to criminal charges.
Moore robbed a Metro PCS store in Suisun City and shot and killed a store clerk. As he fled from the store, Gutierrez spotted him and started a high-speed police chase that ended with Moore crashing his minivan. He reached into his sweatshirt, turned and started to run. Gutierrez shot Moore in the back.
Moore, 30, survived and later pleaded no contest to a murder charge and was sentenced to 50-years-to-life in prison.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.