At an Orange County district attorney’s (OCDA) press conference, it was announced that they believe the Sept. 22 fatal police shooting of Dillan Tabares in Huntington Beach was justified.
Viral cell phone videos of the incident showed much of what happened, but there are still many unanswered questions, partly because the killer cop refused to talk.
The Huntington Beach police department refused to reveal the officer’s identity, citing unspecified threats against the officer’s safety, reported OC Weekly.
Eric Esparza is named in the OCDA’s eight-page report as the officer involved in the fatal shooting.
“Officer Esparza refused to provide a statement to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department,” assistant district attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said. “That’s not very relevant to us as far as the legality of the contact because police officers are allowed to have consensual contact with civilians when they see them on the streets.”
The OCDA released surveillance video from the store that showed the officer stop his vehicle and walk towards Tabares, a 27-year-old homeless man. A witness told investigators she saw Tabares arguing with Esparza before throwing a punch.
Then the officer drew his Taser and fired it, but it didn’t stop Tabares, who proceeded to throw a punch at Esparza.
The two wrestled on the ground when Tabares grasped at the cop’s utility belt, taking an object, later identified as a small flashlight. Esparza then backed away from Tabares and fired 7 bullets, hitting Tabares 5 times. Tabares then fell to the ground.
Officer Delwin Jensen arrived on scene and spoke with Esparza.
“He tried to take my gun,” the killer cop repeatedly said.
Tabares was a veteran, who had a history of using meth, mental health issues and homelessness after being dishonorably discharged from the Navy.