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Family Of Steven Taylor Seeks Murder Charges In Killing By San Leandro Police Officer

SAN LEANDRO (CBS SF) -- The family of a man shot dead by a San Leandro police officer inside a Walmart says manslaughter charges are not enough to deliver justice in the case.

Officer Jason Fletcher was charged Wednesday with voluntary manslaughter for killing Steven Taylor in April as he wielded a baseball bat inside the store. Police body camera video showed Taylor opened fire within 40 seconds after arriving at the store to confront Fletcher and after Taser shots were ineffective.

Steven Taylor
Steven Taylor

Fletcher is among few officers to have been charged since a new state law regarding police violence took effect in January and the first charged by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley.

"I'd like to see the officers fired charged and convicted of murder," said family member Addie Kitchen. "I know Steven is not a violent person, and so when I saw that I was relieved to see that [O'Malley] saw that as well."

Former law enforcement officer Johnny Franks told KPIX 5 for murder charges to be filed there has to be malice aforethought; the officer had to have malicious intent.

A report from the district attorney's office said Taylor used "unreasonable" deadly force and faulted him for "failure to attempt other de-escalation options." The report added Taylor posed "no threat of imminent deadly force or serious bodily injury to defendant."

The officer's attorney did not respond for comment by the time of publication.

San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher
Image from officer body camera shows Officer Jason Fletcher handcuffing Steven Demarco Taylor after shooting him inside a San Leandro Walmart. (San Leandro Police Dept.)

San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor released a statement that reads in part "It is important that we allow the judicial process to take its course."

A Taylor family attorney wants more of an explanation and increased charges, and says multiple protests led to this outcome.

"We believe it was their effort that ultimately got to the grand jury and got the outcome for the indictment," said attorney Lee Mitchell. "But we need a better collaboration between the city and family in order to secure a conviction."

"He was a human being a black man who loved life loved his sons loved me his brothers and his mom," said Kitchen.

"You look at the facts ... in my view, those facts do not amount to voluntary manslaughter. It's at least second-degree murder," said retired Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell. "It is difficult for me to believe that one could not have the intent to kill another person when the officer took his gun out in front of the victim and shot him in the chest.

O'Malley did not discuss why her office opted for a lighter manslaughter charge.

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