Police officers won’t face charges in reference to the fatal 2021 shooting

State authorities won’t file charges against any of the 4 Antioch law enforcement officials who fired their weapons within the fatal police shooting of an unarmed 55-year-old Antioch resident in 2021. One of them is currently awaiting trial on civil rights charges related to the racist texting scandal inside the police department.

Authorities said Officers Ryan McDonald and Eric Rombough fired the vast majority of the 19 shots that struck Guadalupe Zavala on Dec. 10, 2021, as he ran toward a Pittsburg police armored vehicle parked just feet from his burning Antioch home within the 3800 block of Dove Court. The two fired a combined total of about 45 times, the state Department of Justice said in its official report on the shooting.

Rombough is currently awaiting trial on several charges against him related to alleged civil rights violations by him and two other members of the Antioch Police Department.

The officers' shooting ended a six-hour standoff that began around 1 p.m. when neighbors called 911 to report that a “tweaker” was firing a rifle at pine cones and vehicles.

“The loss of a human life is always a tragedy,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in an announcement, adding that Antioch police could have communicated higher with one another and with other agencies through the incident.

Officers from the Oakley, Pittsburg and Brentwood police departments and the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office were on the scene. They helped evacuate a lot of the area's residents, although the danger of the situation forced residents of two nearby homes to hunt shelter through the standoff.

The law enforcement officials who fired the shots told investigators they were counting on false information from a surveillance helicopter that Zavala appeared to have been holding a gun when he left the home.

“APD should review its communications systems, including radio division-issued cell phones, to ensure officers can communicate with each other throughout the area covered by APD,” ​​the report said. “Due to the hilly terrain of the area, many officer radios and cell phones were not functioning properly.”

According to the report, Zavala fired greater than once through the altercation and was armed with a rifle. He was wearing camouflage clothing and a ballistic helmet. He walked across the front of the one-story home and fired indiscriminately, authorities said.

At an investigation in September 2022, an 84-year-old woman said she was nearly hit by a bullet while standing next to the Christmas tree in her front room. She rushed to her 13-year-old granddaughter and hid in one other a part of the constructing until officers evacuated her. Another neighbor said he felt a bullet whiz past his head after peeking into Zavala's yard to see where the “explosions” were coming from, in accordance with investigators' testimony.

At one point, Zavala asked crisis negotiators how many individuals he had shot. When he was told that nobody had been injured, he replied, “I missed my targets?”

Authorities said they used crisis negotiators, in addition to loudspeakers and drones, to achieve Zavala. They surrounded the home from a distance and gave him a chance to give up, the report said. Authorities said he responded by cutting off the negotiators' path and shooting down a drone.

He also ignored his family's requests to go away and described him as paranoid, unpredictable and under the influence of methamphetamine, authorities said. Zavala's brother told police that Zavala had 100 rounds of ammunition, at the very least one rifle and a pistol, but was not a great shot.

According to the report, two officers saw Zavala come out of his front door around 4:50 p.m., carrying what one in every of the officers described as a “full-size AR-15 rifle.” Officers said Zavala moved “tactically” and appeared able to aim and shoot. Either Duggar or Chang fired a shot that knocked Zavala over but apparently didn’t harm him. Zavala then went back into the apartment.

Two hours later, Chang saw a fireplace break out of Zavala's garage, spreading quickly and threatening neighbors who were unable to flee and had run for safety, the report said. The threatening situation also affected the firefighters' ability to get to the hearth, further increasing the danger, the report said.

Five minutes later, officers observed Zavala running out of the home with a rifle. Zavala fell to the bottom as a window exploded from the hearth. He then got up and ran after apparently dropping the rifle, the report said.

He later dropped his bulletproof vest and ran toward the armored vehicles, whereupon shots rang out. According to the report, Rumbough fired roughly 31 times and McDonald fired roughly 14 times.

According to the pretrial hearing, Rombough and McDonald later told investigators they shot Zavala as he ran toward where Pittsburg law enforcement officials were attempting to make use of an armored automobile to tear down his backyard fence. They later said they believed he planned to shoot the officers or run into a close-by house to take hostages. Both officers said they fired a second volley at Zavala after he fell to the bottom because he seemed to be moving or “playing dead.”

According to authorities, the 2 residents who were forced to hunt shelter were in a position to leave their homes and escape unharmed.

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