The California police officer who was charged with manslaughter after fatally shooting a Black man wielding a baseball bat at Walmart was taken into custody then released on bail Tuesday.
San Leandro Officer Jason Fletcher, charged with voluntary manslaughter for the death of 33-year-old Steven Demarco Taylor on April 18, posted his $200,000 bond Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara Dickinson ordered him held as a “danger to society,” according to the Mercury News.
Fletcher’s attorney asked that his client be allowed to post bail immediately but Dickinson insisted he formally be booked.
Around 3 p.m. on April 18, Fletcher, 49, responded to the San Francisco Bay Area Walmart after Taylor attempted to leave the store with an aluminum baseball bat and a tent without paying, according to the district attorney’s office.
Without waiting for backup, Fletcher allegedly approached Taylor and tried to grab the bat from him with one hand while reaching for his gun with the other.
When Taylor pulled the bat back, Fletcher drew his stun gun and told Taylor to “drop the bat man, drop the bat.”
When Taylor refused, Fletcher fired first the stun gun, then his real gun, shooting the man in the chest.
The entire encounter took less than 40 seconds from the time Fletcher entered the store to the fatal shots.
“In his own police report, the officer said Taylor wasn’t stealing or up to any criminal misconduct, but in his words, seemed to be somebody who had lost touch with reality,” attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represents Taylor’s family, told KTVU.
Fletcher’s attorney argued that prosecutors “essentially succumbed to mob rule.”
Fletcher is one of the first cops charged under California’s new law that restricts the lawful use of legal force by an officer.
The San Leandro Police Officers’ Association argued Monday that the charges were “politically motivated” and claimed Fletcher was acting in self-defense.
“Although District Attorney Nancy O’Malley has charged Officer Fletcher with voluntary manslaughter, we are steadfast in our belief that this charge is politically motivated and legally deficient. While the district attorney has mischaracterized the shooting as a ‘failure to attempt de-escalation options,’ we are confident that the evidence will establish that this incident was an unfortunate example of de-escalation techniques simply proving to be ineffective,” the group said in a statement.
“While we wish that every call for service could end peacefully, in our mission to safeguard the community, officers are sometimes left with no option but to make a split-second decision to use deadly force to defend themselves and the public.”
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