By Wes Bowers Lodi News-Sentinel, Calif.
LODI, Calif. — The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office last week found that two Lodi Police Department officers were justified in the shooting death of a man during a 2017 traffic stop.
In its report, which can be read at www.tinyurl.com/y4o9tvyn, the District Attorney’s Office said in light of legal standards, totality of circumstances and evidence obtained from a multi-task force investigation, no criminal charges are warranted against Officers Daniel Bristow and Dominic Carillo.
“We’re happy a decision has been made,” Lodi Police Chief Tod Patterson said Monday. “And the District Attorney’s finding shows that our officers acted appropriately in this situation.”
The District Attorney's Office said it concluded its investigation on April 15 and released the report Friday to give Matthew Palaita's relatives — all of whom live out of state — time to come to San Joaquin County to discuss the findings.
On the morning of Oct. 23, 2017, Bristow observed a motorist using a cellular phone while driving a Honda Pilot in the area of Lincoln Avenue and Turner Road, the report states.
The driver stopped in the 900 block of North Pleasant Avenue, and as he contacted the driver, Bristow observed Palaita attempting to hide from him on the floor in the back seat, the report states.
When Carillo arrived, he positioned himself on the passenger side of the vehicle, the report states, and ordered Palaita to show his hands.
After several orders to show his hands, Palaita exited the vehicle, pointing a revolver at Carillo, according to the report.
Carillo began to retreat and fired his weapon, while Bristow moved to the rear of the vehicle and fired his weapon as well. Palaita fell to the ground and was struck five times, the report states.
Palaita, 35, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Footage from both officers’ body cameras and testimony from the vehicle’s driver corroborated the initial report, the District Attorney said.
Lodi Police Department released the footage Monday morning on its Facebook and YouTube pages at www.tinyurl.com/yy6ty8wc.
During an autopsy, pathologists determined that Palaita was shot in the upper left back, right chest, lower right back, and the right and left thighs, the report states.
He was also found to have levels of amphetamine and methamphetamines in his blood at the time of the shooting, the report states.
While the Lodi Police Department is pleased the investigation has ended and its officers were cleared, Patterson said the 2017 incident will not be one easily forgotten.
“This is a tragedy for everyone involved,” he said. “It’s a tragedy not only for Mr. Palaita’s family and friends, but for our officers and their families and friends. This will have a very big impact on the rest of their careers, and the rest of their lives.”
©2019 the Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, Calif.)