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Anaheim Police Officer Fired For Involvement in Fatal Shooting

Still from Anaheim Police Officer Kevin Pedersen's body camera footage. (Courtesy of the Orange County District Attorney's Office)
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An Anaheim police officer has been fired and another will face discipline for their involvement in the fatal shooting of a 50-year-old man last year, Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros announced Wednesday.

At a news conference, Anaheim police played a body-cam video showing the fired officer, Kevin Perdersen, and the other officer, Sean Staymates, shooting out of a car window at the suspect, Eliuth Penaloza Nava, dozens of times.

According to a report by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, the two officers shot at Nava's car a total of 76 times in a residential neighborhood, "where residents, including children, were home and on the streets."

Officer Pedersen's pistol was determined to have fired 64 shots and Officer Staymates' gun fired 12, according to the report.

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"The District Attorney of Orange County, and the public, expect the Anaheim Police Department to make sure that the conduct of the two involved officers is reviewed administratively for proper, fair, and complete accountability," the report says.

Warning: This video contains graphic content:

Anaheim Mayor Siddhu said he was highly disappointed by what the video showed.

"In this incident we failed in what we expect from ourselves, and what the community demands of us," he said.

The district attorney's office declined to file any criminal charges against officers, but called the shooting "alarming'' and "irresponsible."

During the course of their investigation, the office conducted 15 interviews and contacted 25 additional witnesses. Investigators also looked at police reports, body camera footage, audio dispatch recordings, lab reports and Nava's criminal history, among other evidence.

On the morning of July 21, 2018, Anaheim police received a call alleging that a man armed with a gun and a knife was sitting in a parked vehicle, possibly on drugs and "hallucinating," according to the report.

Nava had a history of drug abuse, according the investigation's findings, and both of his parents feared that he was using again when his brother made the call to police.

When officers arrived on the scene, on the 500 block of South West Street, police identified him based on a photo and his Chevy S-10 truck, the report said.

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According to the report, when he saw the police Nava started the car and made a u-turn.

In the video, one of the officers yells, "Stop the car, stop the car, dude." Both raise their guns and point them at Nava's vehicle. According to the report, Nava did not comply and instead started driving away. A chase ensued.

According to the report, during the chase Officer Pedersen saw Nava reach down toward the floorboard of his car:

Officer Pedersen's BWC [body-worn camera] captures him saying, "He's got a - I think he's got a gun." As Nava turned the truck down Water Street, Nava then pointed the gun out the window and aimed it directly at the officers as if he were going to fire at them. Officers Pedersen and Staymates both feared Nava was going to shoot and kill them. Officer Pedersen wanted to stop Nava from hurting anyone and felt lethal force was necessary.

The video shows Officer Pederson shooting multiple bullets through his front and side windows during the pursuit. Pedersen told investigators that he continued to fire out of fear that Nava might start "randomly shooting civilians in the area."

According to the report, during the pursuit, Nava continued to point the gun at the officers and himself. He also waved the gun in the air. As Officer Pedersen reloaded his handgun, he called for Officer Staymates to "start firing."

After Nava almost hit two pedestrians with his truck, Officer Staymates fired two rounds from his rifle.

About three minutes into the video, one of the officers says "Subject is hit. We know he's bleeding." Seconds later, more shots are fired in quick sucession, as the officers exit the patrol car and shoot directly into the Nava's white pick-up truck.

The report details the alleged exchange:

At approximately 9:47 a.m., Nava stopped the truck in front of his residence where the pursuit had started. Nava did not put his hands up in the air, or give any indication that he was surrendering. Both officers feared that as the driver door opened, Nava would pop out and fire at the officers and/or any individuals in the surrounding area. This fear was based on Nava's actions of pointing a gun at them several times, leading them in a pursuit, and displaying a total disregard for public safety.

Pedersen came to a stop in the roadway as Officer Staymates leaned out the passenger side window and fired one round at Nava. While still in the police car, Officer Staymates fired an additional eight rounds into the back of Nava's truck. Officer Staymates indicated that he fired in an attempt to stop Nava from exiting the truck and firing at them.

After that, Officer Staymates fired approximately four additional rounds towards Nava, fearing that he might go back into the house and harm family members, according to the report.

In the video, Officer Pederson then pulls Nava's body out of the car and calls for medics. More officers arrive on the scene and the cameras stop running.

Still from Officer Pedersen's body cam footage, after Nava's body was pulled out of the truck. Courtsey of the Organge County DA's office.

According to the report, Pederson kicked the gun away from the body -- the silver knife that Nava had was found on the ground next to him. Nava was transported in an ambulance to UC Irvine Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:12 a.m. The Orange County Coroner's Office later confirmed that Nava had been shot at least nine times in the head, neck, and "upper extremities."

Nava's weapon was later tested and found to be a CO2-powered air pistol, not a real gun. The report says "it was black in color and extremely similar in appearance to an authentic 9mm Luger pistol."

A GoFundMe to help Officer Pedersen and his family was posted in October by a member of the Anaheim Police union. It's already raised over $21,000.

Jill Repogle and Suzanne Levy contributed reporting to this story.

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