Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Family Wants OC DA To Reopen Investigation Into 2019 Fatal Shooting by Buena Park Police

David Sullivan (Courtesy of the Sullivan family)
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
Your donation today keeps LAist independent, ready to meet the needs of our city, and paywall free. Thank you for your partnership, we can't do this without you.

Attorneys for the family of an unarmed 19-year-old man fatally shot by two Buena Park police officers in 2019, called on the Orange County District Attorney to reopen the investigation into the incident today.

In a June 8 letter to the Buena Park police chief, DA Todd Spitzer said he had declined to file charges against Officers Bobby Colon and Jennifer Tran over the killing of David Sullivan.

"There is substantial evidence that their actions were reasonable and justified under the circumstances," Spitzer wrote. His office issued a statement today saying it "conducted a thorough, independent analaysis" of the shooting, and it "will always consider any new, pertinent information."

Body cam video from the incident shows Sullivan being stopped driving a stolen Range Rover. When the officers ask him to get out of the car, he instead backs up, smashing into a tree and colliding with a passing car. He then gets out and runs toward one officer, who shoots him once, then twice more as he continues to run away.

Support for LAist comes from

The DA’s letter said Colon opened fire because he "feared Sullivan was going to attack him, disarm him, and use his gun against him or his partner."

"I think the officer was startled," said police use-of-force expert Ed Obayashi. "It’s very unusual to see a suspect run directly at an officer, not away."Maybe another officer would not have shot."

In the body cam video, after running for a few steps, Sullivan turns around and again runs toward the officers, who then both open fire. Colon feared Sullivan might be reaching for a weapon in his waistband at that point, according to the DA's report.

"What it proves is you don’t have to be Black or Brown to be killed by the police," Sullivan family attorney Humberto Guizar said. Sullivan was white. "They took my 19-year-old son who was just starting to live life," said his mother, Deanna Sullivan.


Support for LAist comes from

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.