Brian Phillip Tacadena died Sept. 1 of a single gunshot wound suffered during a late-night encounter with the officer, whose name has not been released.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley issued a statement Friday afternoon saying "the officer acted reasonably in the use of deadly force; therefore the shooting of Brian Tacadena is a justifiable homicide."
Dudley's findings were part of an unusually lengthy report detailing the events and circumstances leading up to and surrounding Tacadena's fatal interaction with the officer near the intersection of De la Vina and Victoria streets shortly before midnight on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.
The report provides a chronology of the incident, background on Tacadena and his long rap sheet, witness statements, legal background and analysis, and a variety of supporting photos and charts, as well as Dudley's conclusion that the shooting was justified.
It also paints a picture of a man with a lengthy history of mental-health problems, drug and weapons violations, and violent encounters, who spent time behind bars and had ties to a white-supremacist gang.
Dudley's report gave this account of the timing leading up to Tacadena's death:
Tacadena had boarded a Greyhound bus in San Jose earlier in the day, and arrived in Santa Barbara at about 7 p.m., intending to visit relatives in the area. His whereabouts for most of the next three hours are unknown.
At 9:45 p.m., a witness in the area of Castillo and Anapamu streets reported Tacadena was exhibiting strange behavior, acting aggressively, "as if under the influence of a controlled substance." The witness reported Tacadena was talking to himself and cursing.
The same witness reported seeing Tacadena about 15 minutes later on Bath Street, "ranting and raving," and called 9-1-1. Responding officers were not able to locate him.
At 11:20 p.m., another witness saw him in the area of Castillo and Victoria streets, cursing and being aggressive. The witness walked around the corner, and heard five gunshots a short time later.
At 11:25 p.m., a third witness observed Tacadena near Victoria and Bath streets, exhibiting strange behavior.
At 11:27 p.m., the officer located Tacadena, who was holding a knife with a 9-inch blade, in the 1300 block of De la Vina.
The officer reported that he had the man at gunpoint, and requested emergency back-up "code 3" — with lights and sirens — from other officers.
Initially, Tacadena was about 66 feet from the officer, who ordered him to stop and drop the knife.
"Tacadena dropped the two bags he was carrying and started to advance toward (the officer)," the report says.
The officer again ordered Tacadena to drop the weapon, and warned him he would be shot if he didn't.
"Tacadena responded by stating something to the effect of, 'I know you will,'" the report states.
A minute into the encounter, with Tacadena 12-15 feet away from him, the officer fired five rounds from his department-issued, .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun.
A single shot struck Tacadena — in the upper sternum region, severing his aorta. He was pronounced dead three minutes later.
Based on an autopsy conducted by the Coroner's Office, "the cause of death was determined to be homicide with a significant condition noted of 'acute methamphetamine abuse.'"
Nine "confidential witnesses" gave authorities their accounts of the encounter between the officer and Tacadena, which varied in some details but seemed largely consistent.
The District Attorney's Office reviewed video from a surveillance camera on Victoria Street that captured part of the encounter. It shows Tacadena advancing on the officer, but does not show the shooting.
A potential separate source of video evidence — the in-car video from the officer's patrol car — was not available to investigators because the equipment was not working that night. Repairs on the system had previously been requested, but the needed parts were not available.
The in-car video from a back-up officer's patrol car shows additional officers arriving on the scene and handcuffing the wounded Tacadena while emergency medical personnel were en route.
The Santa Barbara Police Department has refused to release the name of the officer who shot Tacadena, saying to do so could jeopardize his safety.
Sources tell Noozhawk the officer is a five-year veteran with the department, but have not provided additional details.