San Leandro officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in April shooting death of Black man inside Walmart

Bay Area

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) — The San Leandro police officer responsible for the death of Steven Taylor inside a Walmart back in April has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced Wednesday.

Office Jason Fletcher shot and killed 33-year-old Steven Taylor on April 18 after responding to reports of a person brandishing a bat and a possible robbery inside the Walmart at 1555 Hesperian Blvd. in San Leandro.

When officers arrived, they determined there was no robbery attempt, but Taylor had a bat in his hand so they tried to detain him anyway.

Police say the man was not cooperative, so the first officer tried to taze him but was unsuccessful. After failing the second time, the officer shot the man in the chest.

Taylor died at the scene.

O’Malley said after her office reviewed statements from witnesses and involved police officers, physical evidence and multiple videos of the shooting — Steven Taylor was not a threat of death to either officer Fletcher nor anyone else in the store.

“Officer Fletcher’s actions coupled with his failure to attempt other de-escalation options rendered his use of deadly force unreasonable and a violation of Penal Code 192 — voluntary manslaughter,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley had a message for the community to assure one thing:

“And to the community — I want to say that we understand the anger, frustration and grief that this killing has brought to you,” she said. “And I assure you that we will seek justice.”

The shooting sparked outrage within the civil rights community.

“What we saw was a black man die unnecessarily at the hands of law enforcement,” James Burch, with the Anti-Police Terror Project, said.

A civil rights attorney representing the family says the use of deadly force was excessive.

They believe the videos captured by people in the store is sufficient evidence for arresting the officer.

“Steven Taylor did not need to die. The officer had alternatives he could’ve taken but instead he chose to take Steven Taylor’s life and we’re outraged,” Burch said.

A car caravan was held in late April to demand justice for Taylor and his family.

The DA’s office will conduct an independent investigation.

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