[Hpn] *Police justified in shooting transient, San Diego DA concludes FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 26 Jun 2000 22:46:57 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - June 23, 2000


SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Three police officers were justified in fatally
shooting a homeless man who threatened them with a sharp tree
branch during a confrontation outside a restaurant in February, the
district attorney said Friday.

The shooting did not violate state law, which allows police
officers to use deadly force to protect themselves from the threat
of death or serious injury, San Diego County District Attorney Paul
Pfingst concluded in his 14-page report on the matter.

William Anthony Miller, 42, a transient with a history of mental
illness, was shot seven times by the officers in front of dozens of
witnesses outside a McDonald's restaurant after he refused to drop
the branch and lunged at one of them.

The incident prompted protests by advocates for the homeless and
mentally ill and was one of a series of police shootings that led
the department to expand its use of non-lethal devices such as
shotguns that fire beanbags to subdue suspects.

Miller's family filed a federal lawsuit in May alleging his
civil rights were violated.

Because of that lawsuit and an ongoing internal investigation,
Police Chief David Bejarano said he couldn't discuss the case in

``It's been a long process, waiting for the findings,'' Bejarano
told reporters. ``It was fortunate that we got it and I'm happy to
move on.''

The three officers, who had been on administrative duties since
the Feb. 8 shooting, will return to street patrols this week,
Bejarano said.

Police attempted to arrest Miller after receiving calls that he
struck a bicyclist, a gardener, and a telephone repairman with the
branch, which the report described as longer and thinner than a
baseball bat and with a tip pointed from where it had been broken
off from a tree.

The officers called for a SWAT unit with the non-lethal beanbag
shotguns, but the team did not arrive before the shooting,
according to the report.

AP-WS-06-23-00 2106EDT
Received  Id AP100175BB33D6A1 on Jun 23 2000 20:07


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