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Santa Barbara DA Rules Officer-Involved Shooting Near Santa Barbara Was Justified

Bryan Devin Carreno, 26, was shot a total of 20 times by 5 sheriff's deputies while he wielded a knife

Bryan Carreno, 26, of Santa Barbara was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in the 600 block of Russell Way, near Santa Barbara, on Feb. 12, 2017. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office ruled his death a justifiable homicide. Click to view larger
Bryan Carreno, 26, of Santa Barbara was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies in the 600 block of Russell Way, near Santa Barbara, on Feb. 12, 2017. The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office ruled his death a justifiable homicide. (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk file photo)

Sheriff’s deputies shot a 26-year-old Santa Barbara man 20 times last February, and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide.

Bryan Devin Carreno, who lived in an unincorporated area near Santa Barbara, was fatally shot on Feb. 12, 2017.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department conducted an investigation of the officer-involved shooting, which the DA’s Office then reviewed.

Thursday’s report outlines the 9-1-1 calls, law enforcement response, shooting, and forensic pathologist’s autopsy.

Around 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 12, Carreno’s father, Nicholas Carreno, called 9-1-1 to report Carreno apparently under the influence and “tripping out really, really bad,” according to the investigative report.

Carreno reportedly hopped fences and entered neighbors’ backyards and homes, and authorities searched the area for him with K-9s and a helicopter.

He was telling people that his father needed help on La Cumbre Road, and was acting strangely, according to the report.

On the 600 block of Russell Way, residents said they had returned to their home to find the door open and lights on, but had not left it that way.

Multiple deputies responded to the scene and a K-9 was pulling to the back of the house, indicating Carreno was there, according to the report.

Two deputies and a K-9 entered the house, as others made verbal warnings to Carreno. At that point, Carreno appeared, walking into the living room with a santoku-style kitchen knife, according to the report.

Carreno walked around, waving the knife and yelling, the report said, and he then opened the glass double doors and left the house into the backyard, where deputies were waiting.

“All five deputies were very fearful fo their safety and the safety of their fellow deputies as the patio area was extremely small, had only one narrow exit, and was surrounded partially by a fence and entirely by a steep drop off,” the report said.

“He continued to hold the knife up as he walked down the steps from the house and advanced on the deputies, yelling, ‘shoot me’ and ‘kill me.’

Multiple deputies described Carreno having a ‘thousand yard stare’ where he was looking right through them,” the report said. “Despite the commands to drop the knife, Carreno walked out of the house and down the steps until he was within ‘lunging distance’ of multiple deputies.

"All five deputies discharged their service weapons because each feared the suspect would seriously injure or kill him or one of his fellow deputies.”

Carreno was declared dead at the scene, and forensic pathologist Dr. Manuel Montez reported 20 gunshot wounds, according to the report.

A toxicology report showed alcohol, caffeine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, cannabinoids and fentanyl in Carreno’s system, authorities said.

The District Attorney’s Office review of the Sheriff’s Department investigation concluded all five deputies acted reasonably in their use of deadly force and that the fatal shooting was a justifiable homicide.

The five deputies who shot their service weapons multiple times were: Joshua Cockrell, Robert DeBarge, Shane Moore, Ken Rushing and Dustin Winebrenner.

“A police officer may use deadly force where the circumstances create a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury in the mind of the officer,” the DA report states in its legal analysis of the shooting.

“Under California law, anyone, including a police officer, who is threatened with an attack that justifies the use of self-defense need not retreat. The person attacked may stand his ground and defend himself, if necessary, by deadly force, even if he might have more easily gained safety by flight.”

The DA concluded deputies worried about their safety because Carreno entered properties and homes falsely claiming his father needed help, deputies found a knife in a backyard and heard (from Carreno's father) that he often carried a long-handled throwing hatchet.

​The Sheriff's Department said at the time of the shooting that Carreno had been arrested four months before on battery charges for an alleged attack on a citizen following a traffic accident in Goleta.

Carreno was also among the defendants named in the city of Santa Barbara's 2011 attempt to impose a gang injunction, but no prior incidents are mentioned in the review of the shooting.

There were four officer-involved shootings of Santa Barbara County residents in 2017, including Carreno; allegedly suicidal subject Javier Gaona, 31, who was fatally shot by Santa Maria police; Lompoc homicide suspect Geronimo Vicente Santos, 34, who was fatally shot after exchanging shots with Lompoc police; and Santa Maria homicide and abduction suspect Konstantin Morozov, 48, of Santa Maria, who was fatally shot in San Fernando Valley after a manhunt.

On Jan. 7 of this year, 27-year-old Alejandro Valdez was fatally shot by the Santa Maria Police Department after reportedly advancing on officers while holding two knives.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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