For release on May 31, 2012   CONTACT PERSON:
Sean Webby, Media Coordinator
After a five-month review, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has concluded that a San Jose police officer was legally justified when he shot and killed a gun-wielding man late last year.
The District Attorney’s Office investigates all fatal law enforcement encounters to determine if the lethal force was legal. By law, officers are allowed to use deadly force where there is a reasonable need to protect themselves from an apparent, imminent threat of death or great bodily injury. In this case, the District Attorney determined SJPD Officer Lee Tassio used a reasonable level of self –defense when he fatally shot 47-year-old Valente Galindo in Galindo’s San Jose home on December 15, 2011.   Prosecutor Brian Welch noted in a report released to the public on Thursday, May 31, 2012, that the officer had not fired his weapon at Manuel Fuentes, 25, an armed member of a violent street gang who he was chasing through the Inman Way home just before the fatal encounter. It was Fuentes’ Beretta, later found to have been used by another man in a domestic violence slaying, which sparked off the deadly confrontation.   “Officer Tassio appropriately refrained from using deadly force against Fuentes, and reasonably used that level of force against Galindo,’’ Welch wrote in the 23-page report, which is attached to this release.     The District Attorney’s investigation determined that Tassio and other officers on a routine gang suppression patrol chased Fuentes into Galindo’s home around 9:10 p.m. After being tackled by Tassio in a hallway, Fuentes threw his handgun into Galindo’s bedroom. Despite being warned not to touch the cocked and loaded weapon, Galindo picked it up and pointed it at the officer. Believing that Galindo was going to fire the gun at him, Tassio fired his own weapon, once, fatally. An autopsy determined that Galindo – a gang member who had a criminal history of hostility toward police officers - was intoxicated and tested positive for methamphetamine.    Fuentes, also known as “Mr. Silent,” was convicted on May 24, 2012 of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon with an allegation that he possessed the weapon for the benefit of a criminal street gang. He was sentenced to two years and four months in jail. The semi-automatic that Fuentes tossed into the bedroom was later determined to have been stolen from a Hayward home years before and had been used in the October 2, 2011 murder of Valerie Casillas by her estranged husband Marcus Casillas. Casillas homicide case is pending, with the next court date scheduled for today, 2 p.m. in Department 23 at the Hall of Justice.   ### Attachments

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