Officer-Involved Shooting Response Team

When peace officers use deadly force, society expects that such force will occur only when prescribed by law. The public also has a right to expect that a complete and impartial examination of the circumstances does occur.

Throughout San Bernardino County, law enforcement leaders have agreed that the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office will conduct an independent review of shootings and lethal uses of force by peace officers.

THE PURPOSE

The district attorney’s office reviews these cases to ensure a fair and professional process that will serve the interests of justice, the community, the involved officers, those persons injured, and the families of those affected.  

The primary objective is to accurately, thoroughly, and objectively review all relevant evidence. The district attorney’s office review does not consider issues of civil liability but does address whether the involved law enforcement officers committed any violation of criminal law.  

“In the past, officer-involved shootings have been reviewed by our office. In January of 2019, we began developing the OIS response team, which is an added component to the OIS review process. After a little over a year of discussion, planning, and development, the response team’s first use was in March of 2020. Our office understands both the communities and the involved agencies’ desires for transparency and an impartial review of lethal force used by peace officers, and we’re doing the work desired.”

– Jason Anderson, District Attorney

WHEN DOES THE DA’S OFFICE RESPOND?

The OIS response team, comprised of deputy district attorneys and investigators, responds to incidents that meet the following criteria:

  • When a peace officer, whether on or off duty, during the scope and course of their employment, shoots a firearm resulting in the injuring or killing of a person.
  • A person dies while in the custody or control of a peace officer or agency, and a peace officer used force.  
  • Any other lethal force encounters not listed above requested by law enforcement and approved by a member of the executive staff of the district attorney’s office.

WHAT’S INVOLVED IN THE REVIEW?

Members of our team will respond to the incident location, where they will have access to the scene and the investigators. 

Within 30 days of the completion of the investigation of the incident, our office will receive the investigative reports, statements, recordings, photographs, diagrams, and other relevant documents. Our office will review the incident, taking into account information learned at the scene on the day of the incident, as well as the content of provided materials.

If need be, our office has full access to inspect any relevant evidence, request additional information from the investigating agency, and conduct further investigation if deemed necessary.

TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE

The deputy district attorneys who complete the officer-involved shooting reviews are experienced attorneys with over 400 hours of training specifically related to officer-involved shootings. Examples of training courses attended are:

  • Firearms and ammunition overview, orientation, usage, and dynamics
  • Anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, psychology, and other human factors involved in shootings
  • Use of force information about combative subjects, de-escalation techniques, less lethal tools
  • Behavioral analysis in identifying true and false statements
  • Police reform, justice system changes, and racism

THE FINDINGS

Our office will conduct an independent assessment of the circumstances surrounding the incident and will issue written findings within 90 days of the receipt of all necessary reports and materials, unless there is cause for delay.

A review will render one of the following conclusions:

CONCLUSION 1
The shooting (or use of lethal force) was justifiable in self-defense or the defense of others, and no criminal liability attaches to the conduct of an involved officer.

CONCLUSION 2
The shooting (or use of lethal force) was not justifiable in self-defense or the defense of others; however, there is insufficient evidence to establish criminal liability on the part of an involved officer.

CONCLUSION 3
The shooting (or use of lethal force) was not justifiable in self-defense or defense of others, and there is sufficient evidence to establish criminal liability on the part of an involved officer.  

IF WE FIND A CRIMINAL ACT OCCURRED

If, as a result of the review, we determine an officer’s use of lethal force was unjustified and unlawful, our office will proceed with criminal prosecution when we believe there is sufficient evidence to prove criminal liability beyond a reasonable doubt.