Police officer cleared in fatal 2018 shooting
No charges will be filed against the Vallejo police officer who killed a 33-year-old man in February 2018 as the two struggled behind a building in downtown Vallejo, Solano County District Attorney Krishna Abrams announced.
Vallejo officer Ryan McMahon “was justified in using deadly force,” Abrams said as her office officially closed its investigation on Friday into the deadly Feb. 13, 2018 shooting.
McMahon shot Foster seven times after the man grabbed the officer’s flashlight and allegedly threatened him with it.
“It is and was objectively reasonable for McMahon to defend himself and open fire on Foster,” Chief Deputy Paul Sequeira wrote in his investigative report
into the incident. “Foster posed an immediate and extreme threat to the personal safety of the police officer seeking his apprehension.”
Melissa Nold, a civil rights attorney with the John Burris Law Offices, retained by Foster's relatives said the family is critical of Abram's decision.
“They're sickened and outraged and they believe that her endorsements and monetary donations from law enforcement compromise her ability to render a fair and unbiased decision,” Nold told the TimesHerald. “Krishna Blue Lives Abrams continues to scratch the backs of law enforcement at the expense of human life. The family and community intends to make sure that she is uprooted from office.”
Foster's family filed a wrongful death in federal court against the city of Vallejo and police department in March 2018. That case is ongoing.
Randy Risner, interim city attorney, issued a brief statement Friday afternoon when asked for the city's reaction to Abrams' announcement.
“While we respect the District Attorney's work and decision, we cannot comment further because of the pending litigation in this matter,” he wrote in an email to the Times-Herald.
The incident began when McMahon saw Foster weaving in and out of traffic while riding a bicycle heading northbound on Sonoma Boulevard near Capitol Street.
McMahon told investigators that attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Foster and “educate” the man about driving recklessly and not having a light on his bicycle. Instead, Foster fled on the bike, eventually ditching it and running as McMahon pursued on foot.
The officer said he said Foster reaching for his waistband several times while fleeing, and thinking Foster might have a weapon, McMahon discharged his Taser, with one of the two probes hitting Foster in the back, he told investigators.
Foster continued to run away until falling along a walkway behind a building on Carolina Street. That allowed McMahon to catch up and push Foster down as the man tried to get up.
McMahon told investigators that in an attempt a drive stun on Foster by placing the Taser against Foster's body. That didn't work, as McMahon said he began hitting Foster with a flashlight. At some point, Foster got up and “ripped” the flashlight from McMahon's hand, the officer said.
At that point, fearing for his life, McMahon told investigators that he decided to shoot Foster.
“This guy just took my light from me, we're fighting and nothing I've used on him is working. He is gonna smack me in the head,” McMahon said to investigators. “He's gonna take my gun and shoot me or he's gonna beat me down with my own flashlight and there's nobody here to help me and nobody knows where I'm at.”
McMahon said that during the pursuit he attempted to activate his body camera, but wasn't successful until after shooting Foster. The system records the 30 seconds prior to activation without audio.
The video shows Foster laying on his back and side as McMahon drive stuns the man. Foster then leans up and appears to make a move toward the weapon, but due to the movement of the camera there isn't a clear image until Foster is again down on his left side.
McMahon then seems to strike Foster several times with a flashlight. Foster gets up, and is fatally shot by the officer. The video shows that before firing, McMahon backed up and the flashlight appeared to be held by Foster. However, due to the movement of the camera it's not definitive.
McMahon was one of six officers who shot and killed 20-year-old Willie McCoy in February 2019 as he sat in the front seat of his car near a local drivethrough restaurant. The officers fired 55 times, striking McCoy with more than 20 bullets.