BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County District Attorney's Office has cleared a California Highway Patrol officer in a 2018 shooting on Highway 99 that left a 41-year-old Fresno man dead.
The D.A.'s office ruled the shooting involving CHP Officer Dan Fallas justified and it was declared there was no criminal liability on the part of Fallas.
The shooting happened Aug. 24 along the northbound side of the 99 near 7th Standard Road. CHP was first called to the scene for a car that crashed into a pole.
Investigators say Perez slammed his car into the pole while driving 80 miles an hour and was not wearing a seat belt. They also claim that Perez stabbed himself twice before the crash.
The D.A.'s office says Fallas then found Perez walking along the highway and told Perez to stop so he could offer medical aid. Investigators say Perez instead walked across the highway toward the officer while holding a knife. An RV nearly hit Perez while he was crossing the freeway, according to the D.A.'s office.
Fallas told investigators that once Perez got close enough, the officer feared for his life and then opened fire twice, hitting Perez. But Perez did not stop.
According to the D.A.'s office, Perez then tried to carjack multiple cars on the freeway. Fallas then told Perez to stop, but the man instead lunged at the officer, who then fired again, killing Perez.
Based on witness and the officer's accounts of the incident, the D.A.'s office ruled Fallas acted in self-defense and that "[t]here is no criminal liability as the shootings by Officer Fallas are legally justified."
This ruling comes the same day that state lawmakers in the Assembly passed AB 392, also known as the Use of Force Bill. That legislation would change the threshold for use of deadly force from when reasonable, to only when necessary.
AB 392 now moves to the state Senate.