The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office has concluded that the officer-involved shooting of Santa Maria man Robert Reyes was a justifiable homicide.
Santa Maria police officers shot and killed Reyes, 37, on Aug. 2, 2012, after multiple calls about a suspect brandishing a firearm out of a Chevrolet Tahoe window.
Police responded and tried to contact Reyes, who reportedly led officers on a pursuit into San Luis Obispo County and then back into Santa Barbara County, according to the District Attorney's Office report on the shooting investigation.
After multiple attempts, the California Highway Patrol used a spike strip to flatten all of Reyes’ vehicle tires and stop the pursuit.
“Reyes quickly exited the driver’s door of his vehicle and pointed what appeared to be a handgun in the direction of the officers. Fearing for their own safety and the safety of their partners, three officers discharged their firearms, striking and killing Reyes,” the report states.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley does not identify any of the officers in the report, saying that Reyes was “an associate of a known criminal street gang” and there had been threats of retaliation against the officers involved. Several witnesses are also anonymous.
The officer-involved shooting investigation analyzed the patrol car dashboard camera footage from two vehicles and interviewed the officers at the scene. “Officer 1” tried to make the traffic stop and fired three times at Reyes. “Officer 2” shot 10 times, until the suspect fell down, the report states. “Officer 3” shot at Reyes “multiple times” and requested the SWAT “Peace Keeper” vehicle to safely approach the suspect afterward, since officers believed he could have been hiding in the tall grassy area.
The Coroner’s Office report shows that Reyes had three bullet wound paths and three bullets still in his body. He also had methamphetamine in his system and a blood alcohol concentration of 0.251 percent.
The gun turned out to be a black, “realistic-looking replica” of a semi-automatic handgun.
The report also says that Reyes was “upset due to many difficulties in his life” on Aug. 2, 2012. He had just discovered that his recently deceased wife had been pregnant with someone else’s child and was being investigated for criminal misconduct at work, the DA writes. Witnesses quoted in the report say that Reyes had been depressed.
His sister, Betty, “knew if Robert faced anything with the law that he would go to prison for the rest of his life because he was a ‘third striker,’” the report says.
Reyes reportedly called his mother during the pursuit and told her he was being chased by police. His mother heard Reyes say he had made a mistake, yelling by other people and Reyes yelling “God forgive me” before the line got disconnected.
Reyes had a 20-year criminal record, including charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, causing injury while driving intoxicated, driving under the influence, resisting arrest, domestic violence and lewd acts with a child, according to the District Attorney’s Office.