Officer convicted in fatal shooting of mentally ill man

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California police officer was convicted Tuesday of assault with a firearm in the 2018 fatal shooting of an unarmed mentally ill man who was shot nine times while driving away from police in a wealthy San Francisco suburb.

After deliberating barely two days, the jury agreed that Officer Andrew Hall was guilty of the felony charge in the death of 33-year-old Laudemer Arboleda, a Filipino whose family says he suffered from depression, psychosis and schizophrenia.

The jury deadlocked on a second count of voluntary manslaughter. Hall’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 14, according to the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office, which said he could face up to 17 years in prison.

The case marked the first time a police officer was charged in an on-duty shooting in Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco. The case is part of a push by more prosecutors to punish police misconduct after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off nationwide calls for social justice.

“Today’s guilty verdict holds accountable defendant Andrew Hall for his excessive use of force in the fatal shooting of Laudemer Arboleda,” District Attorney Diana Becton said. His “actions were not only a crime, but they tarnished the badge and they harmed the reputation of all the good, hard-working police officers that work for our community.”

Becton said in a statement her office will be discussing whether to seek a retrial on the voluntary manslaughter count.

Becton faced criticism for spending more than two years reviewing the case before filing charges on April 21, 2021. The announcement of charges came a day after a jury convicted Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin of killing Floyd.

It also came six weeks after Hall, who is white, shot and killed another man, Tyrell Wilson, a Black homeless man whose family said was suffering from depression and paranoia. The shooting of Wilson remains under investigation.

During a three-week trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys presented competing narratives, alternately asking the jury to sympathize with the officer’s need to make split-second decisions or the troubled victim whose only crime was not stopping for police.

The events unfolded after a resident called 911 to report that a man later identified as Arboleda was knocking on doors and lingering outside homes in a Danville cul-de-sac. When officers arrived, they saw Arboleda get into into his car and drive away.

Arboleda led officers on a 9-minute, slow-speed chase through Danville. Hall was not involved in the initial pursuit but stopped his vehicle at an intersection to block Arboleda’s car. Police video shows Hall stepping in the path of Arboleda’s vehicle and firing a volley of shots into the windshield and passenger-side window.

Prosecutors argued Hall used “excessive, unreasonable and unnecessary” force. Hall’s lawyers said the officer feared for his safety, and used body cam footage to show the right front tire of Arboleda’s car was pointed at Hall when the shooting started, indicating it was heading in his direction.

The fatal shooting cast a spotlight on what criminal justice activists call a case of delayed justice and its deadly consequences.

The Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office, which has a contract to provide police services to Danville, had cleared Hall of misconduct after a nine-month investigation into Arboleda’s shooting. Hall has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting of Wilson.

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This story has been corrected to show that the jury deadlocked on a second count of voluntary manslaughter.

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