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Some Cleared in Vista Police Shootings But Investigation Continues

The attorney general's office announced its findings this week into the officer-involved shootings in Vista. It concluded at least four of the shooting deaths were justified. A fifth shooting is still

The attorney general's office announced its findings this week into the officer-involved shootings in Vista. It concluded at least four of the shooting deaths were justified. A fifth shooting is still under review. Joanne Faryon has more on the story.

A total of six Latino men were shot and killed by deputies in Vista in a two year period. A seventh Latino man died a few months ago after being tazered by police.

Vista is a small city with less than 100,000 people. About 40 percent of the population is Latino. Its crime rate is about the same as the state average and lower than some other communities in San Diego County.

And so when six men were shot and killed by deputies in a two-year period , it raised a lot of questions.

Art Cribbs, Coaltion for Justice (Feb. 15, 2007) : Six shootings, where in the county of San Diego that same department was involved in 12 shootings. Over almost half of those taking place in one city, three over a five day period, all investigated by the San Diego sheriff's office.

A citizens group asked the attorney general to investigate. The attorney general did not agree to an independent investigation of the shootings -- it instead reviewed how the district attorney's office reached its conclusions about the shootings. The DA found five of the seven shootings justified; two investigations are on-going.

After three months, the attorney general reached this conclusion.

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. : The Department of Justice's review of the district attorney's decisions finds that specific deputies acted without discriminatory animus and justifiably used deadly force either in self defense or in defense of others."

The officers were cleared of any wrong doing. But the story's not over. There is still a fifth shooting under review by the attorney general, and a sixth shooting, that happened in this Vista trailer park, which remains under investigation by the DA

Neighbors say they still don't know why 27-year old David Lopez was shot and killed by deputies.

The attorney general's office has turned all these cases over to its civil rights division. Here's why: the first review was to determine whether deputies did anything criminally wrong when they shot each of these men. Now, the civil rights division will look at whether there's a problem with policies or procedures at the Vista substation.

And one more review: the County Sheriff's Office hired a Los Angeles consulting firm to look at its policies and procedures when it comes to the use of deadly force.

Guests

  • Evan Mclaughlin , voiceofsandiego.org.
  • Will Carless , voiceofsandiego.org.
  • Lori Weisberg , the San Diego Union Tribune.