District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe announced today that a police officer’s actions were justified when he shot and killed an armed man at the man’s San Mateo home in late February. Robert Joseph Caron, 36, died on Feb. 28 when San Mateo police Officer Adam Smith shot him once in the torso in the front yard of Caron’s home on the 1500 block of Oak Street, according to Wagstaffe’s office. Wagstaffe announced today in a statement that his office will not pursue criminal charges against Smith and that Smith’s actions were lawful.
The incident began when officers received a 10:30 a.m. report from CVS Pharmacy at 77 Bovet Road of an irrational person acting aggressively toward customers, according to police. Caron apparently ran away from the pharmacy on foot and police began searching nearby homes, police said. The search eventually brought officers to the 1500 block of Oak Street, where police attempted to negotiate with Caron while he held a handgun in plain sight, according to police. Caron fired three rounds at officers, who were not injured, and then Caron ran to the home’s backyard at 1506 Oak St., police said. Smith was perched on the rear fence of 1501 Edinburgh St. at about 11 a.m. when he saw Caron in a backyard with a woman, later identified to be Caron’s mother, Sandra, according to police. Smith feared Caron may take his mother hostage, and so Smith fired one shot from his AR-15 rifle. The bullet struck Caron in the chest, police said. Smith initially thought he missed Caron, but his rifle jammed and he was unable to fire a second round, according to police. While Smith tried to clear the jam from the rifle, Caron collapsed from the gunshot and dropped his weapon nearby, police said. Caron was pronounced dead at the scene.
Caron’s mother later told police her son was a diagnosed schizophrenic. She said Caron came home in a rage because the pharmacy wanted to charge him for his medication, police said. She told police that her son said, “They are going to take me. They are going to shoot me. So why don’t I shoot them first?” Caron’s .38-caliber Smith & Weason revolver was found with three of its five rounds fired, and DNA on the handgun was a match to Caron, police said. Investigators later learned Caron had several run-ins with San Mateo officers since 1999, according to police.
In two instances in 1999 and one in 2000, Caron threatened to take his own life and police took him to the San Mateo County Health center, police said. Caron was then arrested in 2001 after calling officers “pigs” and mimicking a weapon with his hand, according to police. In 2008 and 2010, Caron was again taken by officers to San Mateo County Health center for making threats on police and threatening to take his own life, police said. In Caron’s autopsy, he was found with blood alcohol content level of 0.16 percent, and he also tested positive for an “effective dose” of a generic version of the anti-anxiety drug Zoloft.
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