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Contra Costa Sheriff's Deputy Convicted of Assault in 2018 Fatal Shooting

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A Danville police car door-to-door alongside a Honda Accord, facing the opposite direction.
A screenshot from police car dashcam video on Nov. 3, 2018, at about the time Contra Costa County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Hall began firing through the front windshield of a slow-moving vehicle, fatally striking Laudemer Arboleda. Arboleda had led police on a brief car chase after a resident reported a suspicious person. (Courtesy of Contra Costa County Sheriff's Officer)

Updated 3 p.m. Wednesday

The family of Laudemer Arboleda has received a $4.9 million settlement from Contra Costa County and the town of Danville. The settlement was announced Wednesday, a day after a jury convicted a Contra Costa sheriff's deputy of felony assault for fatally shooting Arboleda nearly three years ago.

John Burris, one of the lawyers for Arboleda's family, said the county’s board of supervisors agreed to settle the family’s wrongful death lawsuit earlier this month while Hall’s trial was underway, but opted not to discuss that decision publicly during the trial.

The lawsuit named as defendants the town of Danville, the County of Contra Costa and Andrew Hall, the officer who shot Arboleda nine times while he was slowly driving away from police.

“I hope the message this sends is that the public will hold police accountable for police misconduct,” said Burris. “And that cities and counties have some responsibility to train their officers in such a way that they do not use deadly force under circumstances where it is unnecessary.”

Original post, 5:15 p.m. Tuesday

After two days of deliberating, a jury on Tuesday convicted Contra Costa Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Hall of assault with a firearm in the 2018 fatal shooting of an unarmed man — the first felony conviction of a law enforcement officer in the county for an on-duty shooting.

The jury, however, was unable to reach a verdict on the more serious voluntary manslaughter charge against Hall in the death of 33-year-old Laudemer Arboleda, who was driving slowly in his Honda sedan when the officer shot him nine times in the East Bay suburb of Danville.

Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Terri Mockler declared a mistrial on the manslaughter charge after the jury foreperson said the jury was “hopelessly deadlocked.”

“Today’s guilty verdict holds accountable defendant Andrew Hall for his excessive use of force in the fatal shooting of Laudemer Arboleda," Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said in a statement. "Deputy Hall’s 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. My Office extends our condolences to the family of Mr. Arboleda. With regards to the voluntary manslaughter count, we will take the matter under review to determine the appropriate next steps.”

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The assault conviction shows that jurors believe Hall, who is white, wrongfully fired his gun as Arboleda, a Filipino man, tried to evade police officers.

Hall faces up to 17 years in prison, with sentencing set for January, Arboleda's attorneys said.

The events on Nov. 3, 2018, 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 his car and drive away.

Arboleda led officers on a nine-minute slow-speed chase. In the dashcam video of the incident, two of the officers spot Arboleda’s car and try to pull him over. His car stops several times during the pursuit, but pulls away right when the officers step out of their patrol cars.

Hall, who also served as a Danville police officer, was not involved in the initial pursuit but stopped his vehicle at an intersection to block Arboleda’s car. Police video footage shows Hall stepping in the path of Arboleda’s vehicle and firing a volley of shots into the windshield and passenger-side window.

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

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Prosecutors argued Hall used “excessive, unreasonable and unnecessary” force. Hall’s lawyers, however, tried to make the case that the officer feared for his safety. In the trial, they presented body camera footage to show that the right front tire of Arboleda’s car was pointed at Hall when he started shooting, which they said indicated 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 case is the first among several upcoming trials of Bay Area police officers, all of whom have been charged with manslaughter within the past year for on-duty slayings.

Felony charges were announced against Hall more than two years after Arboleda was shot. During that period, Hall also fatally shot Tyrell Wilson, a Black unhoused man whose family said was suffering from depression and paranoia. The district attorney charged Hall for Arboleda’s death the same day the sheriff’s office released body camera video of the second incident.

Hall's attorney, Harry Stern, said he would likely appeal the assault conviction.

“We're going to be looking at that very closely,” Stern said. “It's really a sad day for Andrew Hall.”

The 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, which remains under investigation.

“Although I wish the jury had returned a not-guilty verdict on all counts, I respect their service,” Contra Costa Sheriff David Livingston said in a statement. “We ask our officers to make split-second decisions and many of the jurors understood that. I urge DA Becton not to retry this case.”

Livingston went on to suggest that Becton's involvement in the case was politically motivated. "I also urge her to take down the posts on her reelection campaign social media where she touts this prosecution,” he said.

Prosecutors left the Martinez courtroom without comment, heading back to their office with Arboleda's family. The DA's office can retry the case, and the judge set a Jan. 14 court date for a new trial motion.

A separate federal civil lawsuit against Hall filed by Arboleda’s mother is also proceeding toward trial.

Adante Pointer, one of the attorneys representing Arboleda's family in a civil suit, called Tuesday's outcome “partial justice.”

“But it was a big step towards holding Andrew Hall responsible and accountable for needlessly taking this young man's life,” he said. “But the fight isn't over. ... We still feel there's more justice to be had.”

This post includes additional reporting from KQED's Alex Emslie and Sukey Lewis as well as Bay City News and The Associated Press.

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