AN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area police officer was charged Wednesday with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a Black man inside a Walmart store in April.
The charge was filed Wednesday in the April 18 killing of Steven Taylor, 33, when San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher, 49, responded to a call about an alleged shoplifter inside the store who was holding a baseball bat.
A 20-year veteran, Fletcher did not wait for backup and instead tried to grab the bat from Taylor, then fired his Taser and his service weapon, all in less than 40 seconds, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a news release.
“Officer Fletcher’s actions, coupled with his failure to attempt other de-escalation options rendered his use of deadly force unreasonable,” O’Malley said.
Police were called to the store by a security guard who reported a possible robbery. Fletcher, the first officer to arrive, clarified with the security guard that it was not a robbery, then he relayed that information through his police radio, prosecutors said.
“Officer Fletcher did not wait for his cover officer and immediately contacted Mr. Taylor in the shopping cart area,” they said.
Surveillance video showed Fletcher pulled out his service pistol at the same time he tried to take the bat from Taylor. Taylor pulled the bat from Fletcher’s grasp and stepped away.
Shortly after, Fletcher shot Taylor twice with his taser. As Taylor struggled to remain standing, Fletcher shot him in the chest with his service weapon just as another officer arrived in the store, prosecutors said.