The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has completed its review of the officer-involved shooting which occurred on November 19, 2019. This incident happened in Yucca Valley and involved the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The shooting was investigated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

On November 19, 2019, deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department responded to a property on Cactus Flower Trail in Yucca Valley. Witness #1 had called law enforcement to report his neighbor, Jacob Cato, was shooting at his property.

Once the deputies arrived, they maintained a safe distance from Mr. Cato’s residence. The deputies heard about 26 gunshots coming from Mr. Cato’s residence.

Mr. Cato exited his residence wearing a black ski mask. He placed a black bag near his property’s main gate and put a propane tank near the backyard entry gate.

Deputies gave orders to Mr. Cato, but he refused to comply.

After Mr. Cato had barricaded himself inside his residence, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department’s Specialized Enforcement Division was requested to respond, which they did.

The sheriff’s department’s crisis negotiation team responded to the location, as well as a sheriff’s helicopter.

The crisis negotiation team spoke with Mr. Cato over the telephone and attempted to get Mr. Cato to surrender peacefully. The team also talked to Mr. Cato’s attorney to help facilitate Mr. Cato’s surrender, but all efforts were unsuccessful.

Deputy Cory McCarthy and Corporal Greg Gary of the SED arrived and were briefed about the situation. They both learned that Mr. Cato was possibly a sovereign citizen and perhaps a Hells Angels gang member. The deputies were informed about Mr. Cato’s shooting at his neighbor’s residence, the black bag at the main gate, and the propane tank Mr. Cato had placed near the back gate. Additionally, the deputies were told Mr. Cato had placed his vehicles in the middle of the roadway leading to his property.

Deputy McCarthy and Corporal Gary took their equipment and went to a ridgeline, where they could overlook Mr. Cato’s residence.

Mr. Cato exited his residence armed with a handgun. Mr. Cato took a shooting stance, leaned forward, swung the handgun up, and pointed it at Corporal Gary and Deputy McCarthy.

Corporal Gary told Deputy McCarthy that Mr. Cato had a handgun. Both deputies feared for their own lives, as well as the lives of the deputies at the scene.

As Corporal Gary was transitioning his weapon to take a precision shot at Mr. Cato, Deputy McCarthy fired his rifle at Mr. Cato. As he did this, Corporal Gary believed he saw a muzzle flash from Mr. Cato’s handgun at the same time as Deputy McCarthy fired his shot.

Mr. Cato dropped his handgun and fell to the ground. He continued to move while on the ground and attempted to pick up his handgun.

The SED devised a plan to safely approach Mr. Cato to render medical aid. To do this, the arson and bomb detail would need to render the black bag Mr. Cato had placed on the road safe. They put an explosive charge on the bag. Once detonated and determined to be safe, the immediate response team moved forward and reached Mr. Cato.

Mr. Cato was pronounced deceased. A black Glock 27 .40 caliber handgun was about 2 feet, 5 inches from Mr. Cato’s body. The handgun was loaded, with six rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber.


The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department investigated this shooting. A review of the investigation, reports, evidence, and statements was completed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

Based on the facts presented in the reports and the applicable law, our office concluded Deputy McCarthy’s use of lethal force was a proper exercise of his rights of self-defense and defense of others, and therefore his actions were legally justified.


By providing a thorough explanation to the community regarding the review of officer-involved shootings, it is the intention of District Attorney Jason Anderson and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office to maintain the community’s confidence and trust in its law enforcement officers and district attorney’s office.

Key Points of This Incident

  • Mr. Cato had fired a weapon at his neighbor’s property, prompting the neighbor to call law enforcement.
  • Once on scene, deputies heard gunfire from Mr. Cato’s residence.
  • Mr. Cato refused to listen to the deputy’s orders.
  • Mr. Cato refused to surrender after speaking with crisis team negotiators.
  • Mr. Cato had placed objects at the entrance and back gate of his property and put his vehicles in the middle of the road leading to his property.
  • Mr. Cato exited his residence and pointed a loaded handgun at deputy sheriffs.
  • Mr. Cato’s dangerous behavior was stopped after a deputy shot Mr. Cato.

Deputy sheriffs are trained for dangerous situations such as this one, and they continually update their training as new situations and techniques are identified.

Additionally, deputy sheriffs have equipment on their belts, vests, and vehicles, which they use to complete their duties.

Deputy sheriffs are expected and authorized to use the equipment to protect themselves and others from suffering injuries or death. To some, watching a deputy sheriff using physical force against another person can be upsetting or disturbing.

Deputy sheriffs prefer to use the least amount of force, whether it be their mere presence or verbal commands, to diffuse situations. However, there are situations, such as this incident, in which lethal force is necessary for the community and deputy sheriff’s safety.

In rapidly tense situations, deputies do not have a great deal of time planning, revising, or analyzing a situation, such as readers of this article. When a situation evolves, deputies must make the best decisions possible to protect and save lives in a condensed amount of time.

The community expects that the people they call upon to protect them, which is law enforcement, will not back down, be intimidated, or run scared when danger presents itself.

On November 19, 2019, Mr. Jacob Cato decided to shoot at his neighbor’s property. Once law enforcement was on the scene and giving Mr. Cato orders, Mr. Cato chose to ignore those orders. Mr. Cato decided to continue to fire his weapon.

Mr. Cato decided not to speak or cooperate with a crisis negotiation team that wanted to facilitate a safe resolution to the incident. Mr. Cato chose to exit his residence armed with a loaded handgun.

Mr. Cato chose to point his handgun at deputy sheriffs. The deputy sheriffs stopped Mr. Cato by shooting him. Mr. Cato was no longer a threat to the deputies on scene, his neighbor, or the community.

There is an extremely high probability this deputy-involved-shooting would not have happened had the following occurred:

  • Mr. Cato did not shoot at his neighbor’s residence.
  • Mr. Cato had cooperated with the deputies and the crisis negotiation team.
  • Mr. Cato did not exit his residence armed with a loaded handgun.
  • Mr. Cato did not point his handgun at deputy sheriffs.


The district attorney’s office has always reviewed officer-involved shootings in San Bernardino County.

Upon taking office, District Attorney Jason Anderson wanted a dedicated team of trained and experienced deputy district attorneys and investigators to review these shootings and respond to the scene of shootings.

The review unit did not respond to this shooting scene as the new team’s design, development, and protocols were still being developed.

Please visit to learn more about this team.

As the district attorney’s office, we realize the entire community is affected when force is used by the police, regardless of the situation or circumstances. Our responsibility is to ensure that all parties involved in cases such as the one involving Mr. Cato acted lawfully.


View San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office Public Release Memorandum: Jacob Cato


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