The Orange County District Attorney’s office has declared there is no evidence of criminal culpability on the part of the officer that shot and killed an unarmed homeless man.
Officers David Enriquez and Matthew Chitjian wanted to cite the Filipino homeless man, Richard Gene Swihart, who rode his bike on a handicap ramp by Santa Ana’s Plaza of the Flags last summer.
“I need to talk to you about your riding your bike in the Civic Center,” Enriquez told Swihart. “We’re just going to give you a citation for riding your bike.”
Swihart wanted to know why the police were harassing him, so they decided to cuff him for failing to comply with their commands after riding his bike on a ramp.
There was a struggle and Swihart was shot by Chitjian after the police feared for their lives from the unarmed man. Swihart died about 2 weeks later from the injury.
A report released yesterday by Orange County District Attorney’s office offers new details into the Aug. 1, 2016 incident while clearing Chitjian of any criminal wrongdoing, reported OCWeekly.
During the struggle and arrest Swihart, Enriquez claimed he felt a tug on his gun holster and saw Swihart trying to gain control of the weapon.
Taking the cop-out that many killer cops do, he said he feared for his life and the lives of bystanders, so the cop yelled, “He’s going for my gun!” Chitjian then fired 2 bullets into Swihart’s torso.
After shooting the unarmed man 2 times, the officers were able to handcuff him and leave him bleeding face down on the pavement.
Scott Thomas, a criminal defense attorney, happened to be on the scene and began recording on his phone.
Swihart can be heard saying “I can’t breath,” while yelling for help. As bystanders gathered around, a few more cops came to help keep the crowd back while the 2 officers kept the shot homeless man cuffed and face down on the ground.
An ambulance transferred Swihart to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana where he died from gun shot wounds.
Swihart was not available for questioning because he was shot dead.
Chitjian refused to speak with investigators, but the report quotes witnesses who believed the officer that yelled, “He’s going for my gun!”
“The officers had no choice, they are fighting for their lives,” one witness said. While investigators wanted to talk to Chitjian about the shooting, they believe a jury would conclude he heard his partner’s cry for help and acted accordingly.
“Officer Chitjian’s decision to decline to give the OCDA a voluntary statement may not legally and ethically be used to draw negative evidentiary inferences regarding the conduct and the state of mind of Officer Chitjian,” the report reads. “It is clear from the evidence in this case that Officer Chitjian did not commit a crime, and that he was justified when he shot Swihart and carried out his duties as a peace officer in a reasonable and justifiable manner.”
The report can be read in its entirety online.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)