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New district attorney reopens fatal Pleasanton PD shooting probe

Among eight cases targeted by Price for further investigation after being closed by O'Malley

Still photograph pulled from Pleasanton Police Department video released Feb. 24, 2022 shows suspect Cody Chavez exiting the apartment with what police say was an 8-inch blade kitchen knife, seconds before he is fatally shot after running at officers on Feb. 17, 2022. (Image courtesy of PPD video)

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price announced Tuesday that her newly created Public Accountability Unit will be reopening the investigation of two Pleasanton police officers who were previously cleared of wrongdoing for fatally shooting a man armed with a knife last year.

A 10-month-long investigation conducted under the purview of then-DA Nancy O'Malley concluded in December that no criminal charges were going to be filed against the two officers for their actions while responding to the domestic violence call that turned into a standoff with Cody Chavez nearly one year ago.

"We have seen many thoughts and prayers being bandied about the police murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. The people of Tennessee want accountability -- and so do the people of Alameda County," Price said. "I promised accountability. This unit and its work are the start of the reckoning Alameda County has asked for holding people accountable for their misconduct."

Officers Brian Jewell and Mario Guillermo were found to be legally justified in killing 33-year-old Chavez outside an apartment on Willow Road on Feb. 17, 2022. The former DA's officer-involved shooting investigation team stated that Chavez approached police with a large knife and failed to respond to commands that he drop the weapon before running toward the officers.

The report, signed by O'Malley, was released publicly by the Pleasanton Police Department in early January.

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"The Pleasanton Police Officers Association is confident that any fair and objective review of this case will simply confirm the findings of the comprehensive investigation previously conducted," Nicholas Albert, president of the Pleasanton Police Officers Association, told the Weekly on Tuesday.

"An investigation in which the District Attorney’s Office concluded, 'There is insufficient evidence to support the criminal prosecution of' our involved officers and further stated that officers' use of deadly force was necessary because Mr. Chavez posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers,'" Albert added. "The Pleasanton Police Officers Association is steadfast in our support of our officers' necessary actions taken to protect the community and themselves."

Pleasanton PD administration had not yet responded to requests for comment about Price reopening the case.

In the wake of recent police brutality discussions following the Nichols case and to keep her campaign promise of police accountability after taking office four weeks ago, Price stated in a press release Tuesday that she wants her office to further review the Chavez case and seven other officer-involved or in-custody deaths.

"These reports were released at the 11th hour, just weeks before I took office. As the top prosecutor, I want to give each case a thorough review to ensure justice has not been forgotten," Price said. "I've made sure that my office has attempted to reach out to each of the families of the deceased. The healing process cannot begin until we do our due diligence."

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The Public Accountability Unit, which Price recently formed, will be tasked with holding law enforcement and public officials accountable for misconduct. The unit will be housed under a Civil Rights Bureau, which will oversee the new unit.

Cody Chavez. (Photo courtesy SCPD)

The five other officer-involved shooting cases that will be reviewed include the deaths of Caleb Smith involving Hayward Police in 2021; Joshua Gloria involving Fremont Police in 2021, Agustin Gonsalez involving Hayward Police in 2019; Mack Jody Woodfox involving the Oakland Police in 2008; and Andrew Moppin-Buckskin involving the Oakland Police in 2007.

"Three of the six officer-involved shooting cases were recently reviewed by the office, under the direction of former District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, with findings in December 2022 that no criminal charges were justified," Price's press release stated.

The cases of Mario Gonzalez, who died in custody of the Alameda Police Department in 2021, and Vinetta Martin, who died at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in 2021, will also be reopened.

"Madam DA has heard the voices of the community when she was elected to this office and has put her vision for police accountability into action," said senior assistant DA Kwixuan Maloof, head of the Public Accountability Unit and lead attorney of the Civil Rights Bureau. "A reopening of these cases does not guarantee charges will be filed, but will give this office and my team time for a thoughtful review and to leave no stone left unturned."

The investigation into Chavez's death was concluded days before Price was set to take over the DA's office. She had been critical of the shooting in the days after it occurred in the middle of the primary election campaign.

"Witness videos contradict the story told by lawyers for the police officers involved in the shooting. It is clear that an independent investigation needs to be implemented," Price said in a statement at the time. "(D)omestic violence should not be a death sentence -- not for the victim and not for the perpetrator."

According to the DA investigation report, PPD officers responded to a domestic violence call at the Galloway Apartments at 1 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2022 where they attempted to make contact with Chavez and enter the apartment following a report from a woman who was in a romantic relationship with Chavez and who lived at the apartment.

According to her initial 911 call, Chavez had beaten her and attempted to smother her with a pillow the previous night.

What followed was an hours-long standoff between Chavez and PPD officers and special units who attempted to de-escalate the situation after noticing Chavez had barricaded himself inside, according to the report.

After three hours, officers obtained a judge-signed warrant for Chavez's arrest on two counts of assault and imprisonment of the resident of the apartment, police said. Officers then attempted to use tactical robots and a drone to get into the apartment to assess the situation

But according to the investigation report and body camera footage, Chavez exited the apartment and charged at the officers with an 8-inch kitchen knife.

Although the report states that Chavez was killed by Jewell and Guillermo, investigators point to the threat that Chavez could be considered to pose to the officers he was running toward.

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New district attorney reopens fatal Pleasanton PD shooting probe

Among eight cases targeted by Price for further investigation after being closed by O'Malley

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jan 31, 2023, 1:02 pm
Updated: Wed, Feb 1, 2023, 5:24 am

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price announced Tuesday that her newly created Public Accountability Unit will be reopening the investigation of two Pleasanton police officers who were previously cleared of wrongdoing for fatally shooting a man armed with a knife last year.

A 10-month-long investigation conducted under the purview of then-DA Nancy O'Malley concluded in December that no criminal charges were going to be filed against the two officers for their actions while responding to the domestic violence call that turned into a standoff with Cody Chavez nearly one year ago.

"We have seen many thoughts and prayers being bandied about the police murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. The people of Tennessee want accountability -- and so do the people of Alameda County," Price said. "I promised accountability. This unit and its work are the start of the reckoning Alameda County has asked for holding people accountable for their misconduct."

Officers Brian Jewell and Mario Guillermo were found to be legally justified in killing 33-year-old Chavez outside an apartment on Willow Road on Feb. 17, 2022. The former DA's officer-involved shooting investigation team stated that Chavez approached police with a large knife and failed to respond to commands that he drop the weapon before running toward the officers.

The report, signed by O'Malley, was released publicly by the Pleasanton Police Department in early January.

"The Pleasanton Police Officers Association is confident that any fair and objective review of this case will simply confirm the findings of the comprehensive investigation previously conducted," Nicholas Albert, president of the Pleasanton Police Officers Association, told the Weekly on Tuesday.

"An investigation in which the District Attorney’s Office concluded, 'There is insufficient evidence to support the criminal prosecution of' our involved officers and further stated that officers' use of deadly force was necessary because Mr. Chavez posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers,'" Albert added. "The Pleasanton Police Officers Association is steadfast in our support of our officers' necessary actions taken to protect the community and themselves."

Pleasanton PD administration had not yet responded to requests for comment about Price reopening the case.

In the wake of recent police brutality discussions following the Nichols case and to keep her campaign promise of police accountability after taking office four weeks ago, Price stated in a press release Tuesday that she wants her office to further review the Chavez case and seven other officer-involved or in-custody deaths.

"These reports were released at the 11th hour, just weeks before I took office. As the top prosecutor, I want to give each case a thorough review to ensure justice has not been forgotten," Price said. "I've made sure that my office has attempted to reach out to each of the families of the deceased. The healing process cannot begin until we do our due diligence."

The Public Accountability Unit, which Price recently formed, will be tasked with holding law enforcement and public officials accountable for misconduct. The unit will be housed under a Civil Rights Bureau, which will oversee the new unit.

The five other officer-involved shooting cases that will be reviewed include the deaths of Caleb Smith involving Hayward Police in 2021; Joshua Gloria involving Fremont Police in 2021, Agustin Gonsalez involving Hayward Police in 2019; Mack Jody Woodfox involving the Oakland Police in 2008; and Andrew Moppin-Buckskin involving the Oakland Police in 2007.

"Three of the six officer-involved shooting cases were recently reviewed by the office, under the direction of former District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, with findings in December 2022 that no criminal charges were justified," Price's press release stated.

The cases of Mario Gonzalez, who died in custody of the Alameda Police Department in 2021, and Vinetta Martin, who died at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in 2021, will also be reopened.

"Madam DA has heard the voices of the community when she was elected to this office and has put her vision for police accountability into action," said senior assistant DA Kwixuan Maloof, head of the Public Accountability Unit and lead attorney of the Civil Rights Bureau. "A reopening of these cases does not guarantee charges will be filed, but will give this office and my team time for a thoughtful review and to leave no stone left unturned."

The investigation into Chavez's death was concluded days before Price was set to take over the DA's office. She had been critical of the shooting in the days after it occurred in the middle of the primary election campaign.

"Witness videos contradict the story told by lawyers for the police officers involved in the shooting. It is clear that an independent investigation needs to be implemented," Price said in a statement at the time. "(D)omestic violence should not be a death sentence -- not for the victim and not for the perpetrator."

According to the DA investigation report, PPD officers responded to a domestic violence call at the Galloway Apartments at 1 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2022 where they attempted to make contact with Chavez and enter the apartment following a report from a woman who was in a romantic relationship with Chavez and who lived at the apartment.

According to her initial 911 call, Chavez had beaten her and attempted to smother her with a pillow the previous night.

What followed was an hours-long standoff between Chavez and PPD officers and special units who attempted to de-escalate the situation after noticing Chavez had barricaded himself inside, according to the report.

After three hours, officers obtained a judge-signed warrant for Chavez's arrest on two counts of assault and imprisonment of the resident of the apartment, police said. Officers then attempted to use tactical robots and a drone to get into the apartment to assess the situation

But according to the investigation report and body camera footage, Chavez exited the apartment and charged at the officers with an 8-inch kitchen knife.

Although the report states that Chavez was killed by Jewell and Guillermo, investigators point to the threat that Chavez could be considered to pose to the officers he was running toward.

Comments

Former PTown Resident
Registered user
Stoneridge
on Jan 31, 2023 at 3:25 pm
Former PTown Resident, Stoneridge
Registered user
on Jan 31, 2023 at 3:25 pm

"We have seen many thoughts and prayers being bandied about the police murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee." - I'll certainly agree that it seems the officers in Memphis acted inappropriately, (portion removed because it is not accurate.) Seems like she has an agenda and may not be good to have such bias in our judicial system. Regarding the PPD officers, why doesn't she just accept the video of that incident and clear them?


FrankB
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jan 31, 2023 at 3:40 pm
FrankB, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jan 31, 2023 at 3:40 pm

"I promised accountability. This unit and its work are the start of the reckoning Alameda County has asked for holding people accountable for their misconduct."
It appears that DA Price has already concluded that there was "misconduct". A more neutral approach might have been to say "holding people accountable for their conduct" until the investigation by the Public Accountability Unit has concluded.


Vin Kruttiventi
Registered user
Stoneridge
on Jan 31, 2023 at 5:01 pm
Vin Kruttiventi, Stoneridge
Registered user
on Jan 31, 2023 at 5:01 pm

What happened with Tyrese Nichols is a shame (based on the videos). But we all saw the videos of this incident in Pleasanton, and trial by media statements despite all the video footage available to the public could have been avoided by the DA.


Bay Area Native
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 31, 2023 at 9:39 pm
Bay Area Native, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Jan 31, 2023 at 9:39 pm

In 2021 1,055 people were fatally shot in the US by police. Most were justifiable by any objective measure. Individuals and organizations motivated by power and wealth, however, consider ANY death at the hands of police as unacceptable regardless of the circumstances. They stoke emotions and fan the flames for their personal benefit at the expense of society.

The CDC estimated that there were over 20,000 firearm homicides in the US in 2021 and almost all of them were unjustified. Where are the protests? Where are the demands for accountability? Where is the outrage? Every day felons illegally in possession of guns commit violent crimes in Alameda County yet Price has no plan to address habitual violent offenders. She views criminals as victims and police as criminals.

The result of Price’s polices will be decreased staffing and engagement at Alameda County police agencies, increased police response times, less police on the street and more crime. We’ve already seen how this works in SF, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philly, Seattle, etc. Ironically, people in impoverished communities and people of color will disproportionately suffer the affects of Price’s polices.

To view every police agency and every police officer through the same lens is idiotic. Does every organization have the same culture, integrity, professionalism and standards? Obviously not yet we are supposed to believe that all police agencies are predatory.

It is not mutually exclusive to hold both police and civilians appropriately accountable. Until someone can monetize the prevention of citizens killing each other, however, only deaths caused by police (regardless of circumstances) will generate outrage.

As crime escalates and criminals feel empowered by a DA who won’t hold them accountable fear will motivate more people to buy guns. Many will get stolen and end up on the streets perpetuating the cycle of violence.

We know how this ends. Time to start the recall campaign.


Willy
Registered user
Old Towne
on Feb 1, 2023 at 10:09 am
Willy, Old Towne
Registered user
on Feb 1, 2023 at 10:09 am

The new DA is an IDIOT! Another reason for Pleasanton to consider leaving Alameda County and joining Contra Costa County. Support your local Police Departments. Pleasanton has one of the best Police forces in the Country!


cs
Registered user
Amador Valley High School
on Feb 1, 2023 at 11:36 am
cs, Amador Valley High School
Registered user
on Feb 1, 2023 at 11:36 am

Maybe the Alameda County Board of Supervisors needs to create an office of DA accountability. I'm not surprised about our actions she was pretty clear in her campaign about her intent. She appears to be more focused on pushing an extreme left-wing agenda and less on the district attorney's job, whose primary responsibility is to prosecute crime.


Kacey
Registered user
Ponderosa
on Feb 3, 2023 at 9:58 am
Kacey, Ponderosa
Registered user
on Feb 3, 2023 at 9:58 am

Such a ridiculous waste of taxpayers money. To reopen a case after a 10 month investigation, put the PPD and those two officers and their families through this torture again, is overreach on the part of the new DA. I understand DA Price made a campaign promise, but it shouldn’t be at the sacrifice of others.


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