Default user icon

Pedro Martinez Campos, 29
Escondido, California
May 04, 2013

Agencies: Escondido Police Department California

Last updated: 4 months ago

Overview Help icon

A man shot to death when he charged at Escondido police with a large knife last weekend was identified by authorities Wednesday as Pedro Martinez Campos.

Police encountered Campos, 29, about 10:45 Saturday night, after a 911 call from a man near Washington Avenue and North Citrus Avenue who said he needed help.

Campos threatened to cut his own stomach, then walked toward the officers, who backed away hundreds of feet down nearby Trovita Court, police Lt. Neal Griffin said.

He refused to drop the knife, and officers used a Taser, but he continued forward, Griffin said. They shot Campos after he came within 10 feet and charged one of them.

The officers involved were Marco Fuentes, 42, a 20-year law enforcement veteran, and Patrick Hand, 34, a two-year veteran, the department said Wednesday.

The District Attorney’s Office has completed reviews of 22 shootings by law enforcement officers around San Diego County since 2013 and found each one legally justified.

Findings that each officer-involved shooting was reasonable under its circumstances are the norm, locally.

A report issued by the District Attorney’s Office late last year tallied 358 shootings in a 20-year period from 1993 through 2012. In all those cases, county prosecutors filed criminal charges against just two officers — who fired into moving cars —and juries acquitted both of them.

An additional 18 officer-involved shootings in the past three years have yet to be reviewed by prosecutors. One of the 18 cases is being handled by the state Attorney General’s office to avoid a conflict of interest, because a district attorney’s investigator was involved.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has taken a look at all 22 reviews of fatal and nonfatal shootings by officers over the past three years.

There were 16 officer-involved shootings in 2013, and reviews of all the cases were completed. There were 13 shootings in 2014, with six completed reviews. Of the 11 2015 shootings as of June 3, no reviews have been completed.

A district attorney’s investigator typically visits the scene of shootings by state or local law officers in San Diego County. While each agency investigates its own officers for possible policy or procedure violations and internal discipline, the District Attorney is to offer an independent view to determine criminal liability.

Officers are permitted by law to use reasonable force to defend themselves or others from a serious threat of harm. The circumstances at the time are taken into account, said District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Tanya Sierra.

When the review is completed, a report detailing evidence and statements from officers and witnesses is sent to the agency involved, then may be released to the public.

Mike Marrinan, a civil rights attorney who specializes in suing police in excessive force cases, said 40 shootings in two and a half years is an "unacceptable" number.

He said an independent agency should be examining why so many officers resort to deadly force in San Diego County, and that either a special prosecutors office or the state Attorney General’s Office should investigate officer shootings, not the District Attorney.

"They have an inherent conflict of interest," Marrinan said. "They rely on police and the Sheriff’s Department for every one of their cases."

Legal Action Help icon

October 2013 Lawsuit filed