Stockton – On Friday, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar announced that the grand jury has indicted Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua, two former Stockton Police Department Officers, with felony counts of assault by a public officer (149 PC) and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury (245(a)(4) PC), as well as great bodily injury enhancements.
“Those who violate their oath to protect and serve discredit the good work law enforcement strives to do every day,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “This grand jury indictment reminds us all that when police use unlawful force, they undermine community trust. As your District Attorney, I have a responsibility to ensure equal accountability and justice for all. As the daughter of a police officer, I know how important that responsibility is to restore community trust, safety, and honor to the profession.”
The allegations against the former officers stem from a use of force incident involving a minor on December 30, 2020. According to the Stockton Police Department, the victim was driving on Eight Mile Road in North Stockton when officers attempted to pull him over for reckless driving. The teen led officers on a brief chase before a pit maneuver was executed which brought the vehicle to a stop.
The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office determined empaneling a grand jury was the best way to ensure timely justice for all those involved. In addition to the regularly appointed civil grand jury, a criminal grand jury may be empaneled at the request of a District Attorney or the Attorney General. A criminal grand jury is comprised of 19 jurors and alternates as needed.
A criminal grand jury requires inculpatory (evidence used to establish a defendant’s guilt) and exculpatory (evidence used to establish innocence on behalf of the defendant) evidence. This results in the prosecuting agency requesting any information from the defense counsel they feel relevant to be submitted and presented to the grand jury.
Upon delivery of the indictment transcripts from the San Joaquin County Superior Court to the defense counsel and prosecutor, defense counsel has ten days to file a motion to keep the records sealed. The District Attorney has requested the transcripts be released. After the ten days, the unsealed records, if any, will be made available to the public.
The defendants return before the Honorable Judge Ronald Northrup on November 5, 2021.
The following Statement was issued by the Stockton Police Department
Stockton, CA – This afternoon, the Stockton Police Department Officers Michael Stiles and Omar Villapudua appears for their arraignment on the indictment by the San Joaquin County Grand Jury for assault under color of authority. Although we appreciate the service of the Grand Jury, the SPOA strongly disagrees with the Grand Jury decision in this case.
On December 30, 2020, suspect Devon Carter willfully and maliciously chose to lead officers on a dangerous and violent vehicle pursuit. During this pursuit, Mr. Carter drove in excess of 100 miles per hour, with no headlights on, often in opposing lanes of traffic.
Without question, Mr. Carter chose to not only endanger his own life, but also endanger the lives of the officers and every other innocent civilian in his path. Mr. Carter did, in fact, cause a collision between a civilian vehicle and Stockton PD vehicle. Once officers were finally able to stop Mr. Carter’s vehicle using a PIT maneuver, Mr. Carter continued to resist their efforts to detain him.
As Mr. Carter resisted the officers efforts to detain him, he repeatedly attempted to reach into his waistband. In order to stop the fight and prevent death or serious bodily injury to Mr. Carter or the officers, officers were required to use bodily force to overcome Mr. Carters resistance and effect his arrest.
Mr. Carters actions, and his actions alone, caused the involved officers to react in a manner in which they did to end Mr. Carter’s vehicular violence, effect his arrest, and keep the innocent citizens of our community safe.
While we are disappointed in the Grand Jury decision, we remain optimistic that the court process will reveal the truth behind the unfortunate events that unfolded that night. The SPOA stands in support of our officers, and we are confident that the court process will bring these and other important details to light., providing that Mr. Carter activily resisted arrest, presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury, and that the officers’ actions in response to Mr. Carter’s actions, were justified under the totality of the circumstances.
– The Stockton Police Officers’ Association.