Martinez, Calif. – The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office’s investigation into the officer-involved shooting of Eduardo Martinez in 2020 determined the use of deadly force by peace officers was justified – given the circumstances of the incident.
As part of Contra Costa County’s protocol that investigates when police officers or civilians are shot or die during an encounter with law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office released a Law Enforcement Involved Fatal Incident (LEIFI) report today. The document summarizes the investigative report of the incident, contains a legal analysis, and concludes with a charging decision.
Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton notes that the purpose of the report is to independently determine if there is any criminal liability in fatal incidents when law enforcement is involved. If criminal liability does exist, the District Attorney – which represents The People of the State of California – has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a death was not justified.
The incident involving Eduardo Martinez started on July 9, 2020, around 9:30 am. The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from a woman in the Town of Knightsen — who said she was a victim of domestic violence. According to the victim, her boyfriend, Eduardo Martinez, was responsible for battering her, binding her wrists, pouring gasoline on her, and sexually assaulting her. She told the authorities that he was armed and would shoot any law enforcement officers that interfered or tried to apprehend him.
The Sheriff’s Office dispatched their SWAT team and two armored vehicles (known as Bearcats) to the residence. Over the course of nine hours, a Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT) repeatedly attempted to get Martinez to put down the pistol and shotgun he possessed and surrender. However, Martinez was either unresponsive to commands or would make suicidal threats. At 5:21 pm, a loud gunshot was heard coming from inside the residence. At approximately 6:37 pm, police deployed drones to locate the whereabouts of Martinez. Footage from a drone camera located him lying in a bed in a room on the second floor of the house — where he was alive and armed. A decision was made to use CS gas in the house to get Martinez to come out – which was successful.
Martinez exited the residence with a shotgun in his hand and started walking towards a gate in an area that would have allowed him to escape from an inner perimeter police established. A Sheriff’s Deputy then fired a non-lethal rubber projectile at Martinez to stop him from leaving the property. That’s when Martinez raised his shotgun and fired in the direction of SWAT personnel – with pellets striking two Deputies. Police returned fire and struck Martinez in the upper torso. Life-saving measures were taken, but Martinez was pronounced dead at the scene.
On July 10, 2020, the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau conducted an autopsy on Martinez. The forensic pathologist determined the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds. Alameda County does not conduct Coroner’s Inquests, so a Coroner’s Inquest was not held.
In a legal analysis of the case, the District Attorney’s Office applied the applicable laws and the California District Attorney’s Uniform Crime Charging Standards to review the evidence of the incident. The concluding opinion determined the use of deadly force by the peace officers against Eduardo Martinez was justified to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to them and other law enforcement officers.
As such, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office will take no further action in this case.
The victim and family of Eduardo Martinez have been notified by the District Attorney’s Office. Also, a copy of the report has been forwarded to the Attorney General of the State of California for review – which can be viewed here.