LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County prosecutors declined to file a case against a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a 51-year-old man in Castaic nearly three years ago.
Prosecutors determined that there was “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that Deputy Jeffrey Brito used unreasonable force when he shot William Bowers after responding to a report of a vehicle theft at the Rodeway Inn on Aug. 2, 2016, according to a memorandum from the District Attorney’s Office that was released Wednesday, July 10. [View it here.]
Bowers — whom the deputy recognized from prior contacts in which he had been cooperative — disobeyed commands to stop and fled from the scene on a bicycle and then on foot before being shot in the 31500 block of Castaic Road by the lawman, who believed Bowers was holding a handgun, according to the document. No weapon was found on or near Bowers, according to prosecutors.
“Since Brito actually believed that Bowers was armed with a handgun, and presented a deadly threat, there is insufficient evidence to support a charge of murder,” prosecutors found. “While there is no video recording or additional objective evidence that definitively show the incident at the time Brito fired his service weapon, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his belief in the need for self-defense was not objectively unreasonable.”
Following the shooting, a group of civil rights activists gathered outside the sheriff’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to ask for a meeting with then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell and to call for an independent investigation into the shooting.
Previous related story: Lawsuit filed over deputy-involved shooting death in Castaic