A report by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has concluded that two San Jose police officers were justified in the fatal shooting last March of an unarmed suspect who they thought had a weapon, prosecutors said today. The 53-page report on the officer-involved shooting death of 28-year-old Ronald Aduddell concluded that Officers Ian Cooley and Adam Jenkins correctly believed force was needed to defend themselves when the suspect advanced toward them. Supervising Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch said that even though it turned out that Aduddell was unarmed, prosecutors determined it was “reasonable for (the officers) to think there was a gun.”
Under law, when a suspect is advancing toward police, the use of such force is justified “if there is an apparent immediate threat” and “it doesn’t have to be an actual threat,” Welch said. Welch, who prepared the report, wrote that the officers “found themselves in an uncertain, tense and rapidly evolving situation with a suspect in close proximity, whose actions indicated an intent to attack, which required the officers to make split-second judgments about the use of force necessary.” Both officers described seeing Aduddell holding a gun during the car chase that preceded the shooting. Welch said. Welch said that he could not rule out that Aduddell had been holding a cell phone instead of a gun during the chase, because the suspect did make a call, but that “the officers thought he was holding a gun.”
On March 2, 2013 at about 2:36 p.m., a police officer observed Aduddell driving near Union and Bascom avenues in West San Jose possibly to case the area for burglary, according to San Jose police. When the officer tried to pull Aduddell’s Ford Contour over, the suspect crashed into the patrol car and drove away while throwing stolen property out of the car and, the officer reported, holding a handgun, according to prosecutors. A 26-mile car chase then ensued down Bascom to southbound state Highway 85. An officer tried to use his car to block Aduddell, who then attempted to drive the wrong way against traffic, police said.
The maneuver caused the officer to collide with Aduddell’s car, damaging the police cruiser so much that the officer had to stop, police said. Aduddell then drove off and officers Cooley and Jenkins pursued him in the area of Blossom and Calero Avenues in South San Jose until Aduddell’s damaged Ford began to slow down. Cooley and Jenkins used their patrol cars to box in the suspect’s car in the 5800 block of Blossom Avenue, police said. According Walsh’s report, Aduddell then exited and advanced toward the officers while appearing to reach for a weapon. The officers opened fire on Aduddell, shooting 15 rounds, of which eight hit the suspect. An autopsy later determined he had been high on methamphetamine, prosecutors said. Police never found the firearm that the officers reported he had possessed, according to prosecutors.
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