For release on August 25, 2022
Deputy District Attorney
DA Report: SJPD Police Lawfully Shot Armed Man after Fiery Stolen Car Crash
San Jose Police officers earlier this year lawfully shot and killed a man who went on an escape attempt in a stolen car across the city during which he drove against oncoming traffic, attempted to carjack another driver, T-boned a car causing a fiery explosion, and fired a gun at officers, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has concluded.
The 41-page public report on the fatal shooting of Robert Seth Carter, authored by prosecutor Robert Baker, stated: “…. there is abundant circumstantial evidence that Carter intended for the police to shoot and kill him. Carter told Jane Doe that he would die before going back to prison. Despite having a gun with no ammunition, he aimed it directly at Officer Gutierrez and ignored warnings to drop it. Once he was hit, Carter still refused to drop his gun. Even after Officer Ortiz fired multiple rounds, Carter propped himself up and raised his arm at the officers again, leading to the final volley that likely ended his life.”
The District Attorney’s Office investigates fatal law enforcement encounters to determine if the lethal force was legal. By law, officers can use deadly force when they or others are faced with imminent danger or are attempting to apprehend a fleeing, violent felon who poses a danger to the community.
On January 19, 2022, around 6:45 p.m., Carter was parked in a stolen Toyota Camry in Guadalupe River Park. When a San Jose Police patrol car approached, Carter drove off at high speed. Despite not being actively pursued by the police, Carter drove at speeds of up to 70 m.p.h. on freeways and streets across San Jose, from the west to the east and back again, running red lights and stop signs. At one point, he drove against heavy oncoming traffic. Carter drove into the City of Santa Clara, where he tried to carjack another motorist at gunpoint. Eventually, he returned to San Jose where he ran a red light, T-boning a passing car and causing a major collision at the corner of Park Avenue and Hedding Street. After crawling out of his burning vehicle, Carter fired a handgun at an approaching patrol officer, who heard the bullet whizz past his head. Carter continued to flee on foot until he was confronted by a police officer in a passing police vehicle. Ignoring the officer’s commands to drop his gun, Carter raised his arm and pointed the gun directly at the officer. Multiple officers fired, hitting Carter at least nine times. Carter later died from those gunshot wounds. An autopsy showed that Carter’s blood contained methamphetamine and amphetamine.
A compilation of the relevant portions of the helicopter Air 3 and BWC videos can be found on SJPD’s YouTube channel.