Jeffrey F. Rosen, District Attorney  CONTACT PERSON:
Jeffrey F. Rosen, District Attorney
(408) 299-7400   For release on June 3, 2011     DISTRICT ATTORNEY DETERMINES FATAL OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING OF AN ARMED MAN GUARDING A LARGE, ILLEGAL MARIJUANA GROW OPERATION WAS LEGALLY JUSTIFIED   The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has completed its review of the officer-involved fatal shooting of Jose Penaloza-Soto, 28 years old. Senior prosecutors, including District Attorney Jeff Rosen, carefully reviewed the entire investigation of Mr. Soto’s fatal shooting on July 21, 2010 by Santa Clara County Sheriffs Deputies Gregg Dibert, Devin Fontana, John Spagnola, and Mike Damigo.   Sheriff’s deputies were investigating a large scale, illegal marijuana grow operation in a remote and rural part of Santa Clara County. Previous investigations of remote marijuana grow operations had resulted in gunfire between armed marijuana guards and law enforcement officers. As deputies approached the grow, they saw Soto holding a rifle, and yelled to him, in English and Spanish, to drop the rifle and raise his hands. Soto initially complied with their commands, but he then lowered his hands, pointed the rifle at some of the deputies, and refused to drop an unknown object he was holding. Afraid that Soto was about to shoot them, the deputies fired and killed Soto. Deputies found a knife and the rifle, both within arm’s reach of Soto’s body.   The use of deadly force by these deputies was in response to Soto aiming a rifle at them, refusing commands to lower the rifle, and holding a knife.   Attached is a detailed report prepared by the District Attorney’s Office that describes the underlying facts, sets out the applicable law, and explains why the deputies’ actions were legally justified.   ###  

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