OAKLAND (CBS SF/AP) — The family of Erik Salgado, a 23-year-old unarmed man fatally shot in 2020 by California Highway Patrol officers, on Tuesday denounced a report from the district attorney saying there was not enough evidence to prosecute the officers.
Salgado was shot and killed by three members of CHP's auto-theft task force in June of 2020 on Cherry Street in Oakland. On Monday, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley publicly released the final report on the fatal shooting and said she agreed with its conclusion "that the evidence does not support criminal charges" against the officers.
Salgado's family and supporters gathered on the steps of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland. Attorney John Burris, who is moving ahead with a civil rights lawsuit over Salgado's death, said there was no legal basis for the CHP officers to shoot into Salgado's car.
"I think that report is a sham," Burris said at the Tuesday news conference, adding he was disappointed but not surprised. "The decision is bittersweet because although disappointed with the decision it does allows us to go forward,"
The Salgado family said the officers involved in the shooting used excessive force, especially because Salgado was not armed. he added.
Salgado's mother Felina Ramirez said through an interpreter Tuesday morning, "All I want is justice. I want justice for my son."
She spoke through tears as she described never being able to see her son again.
Salgado's sister, Amanda Majail-Blanco, says they've been waiting two years for answers – answers they say this report does not provide.
"We have to remember that this is an investigative report on cops investigating their own, and this shouldn't be trusted," said Majail-Blanco.
Prosecutors identified the officers involved as CHP Sgt. Richard Henderson and Officers Donald Saputa and Eric Hulbert. The CHP said at the time the officers were conducting a traffic stop on the Dodge sedan driven by Salgado when he rammed it against their patrols and they opened fire.
Salgado was struck at least a dozen times. His pregnant girlfriend was in the passenger seat and was wounded.
Salgado was driving one of the Dodge Hellcats that was stolen a few nights earlier from a San Leandro car dealership during looting that happened around the George Floyd protests.
The report says when the officers pulled Salgado over and got out of their cars to talk to him, he tried to drive away, ramming their patrol vehicles twice. Thats' when the officers opened fire, later saying they worried the Hellcat Salgado was driving could hit and kill one of the officers.
"The DA has said, 'Well, I'm not really clear that that's what happened, but right now I have nothing else to turn to.' Why? Because there's no video," said LaDoris Cordell, a former judge and a former independent police auditor.
Cordell says video from body worn cameras would have taken away any doubt as to whether the shooting was justified. According to the DA, the cameras were not required per CHP policy.
"Had they had cameras on and activated, we wouldn't be having this conversation, nor would the DA have any question about whether or not pressing charges, filing charges was the right thing to do," says Cordell.
The 34 page report does leave the door open for criminal charges to be filed in the future "should more witnesses or evidence come forward."
Katie Nielsen contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.
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