BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County District Attorney's Office announced Friday evening that Bakersfield Police Department Officer Warren Martin was legally justified in shooting and killing Augustus "A.J." Crawford in 2017.
According to a release from the D.A.'s office, on November 4, 2017 Officer Martin had probable cause to believe Crawford shot and nearly killed a man during a marijuana robbery at 710 R. Street. Officer Martin was told about wiretap evidence that Crawford believed he shot and killed the victim. Officer Martin was tasked with pulling over the vehicle surveillance officers advised Crawford was in and was told he was armed with a firearm.
During the traffic stop on Planz Rd. Crawford took off running from the vehicle. As he turned a corner he threw his loaded firearm into a backyard. Pursuing officers, including Officer Martin, were not in a position to see Crawford throw the gun. Crawford entered a dark, dirt lot with Officer Martin and Officer Garcia running after him. Officer Martin saw Crawford make motions toward his waistband as he looked back at Officer Garcia. Officer Martin fired his service weapon at Crawford. Crawford was struck and fell to the ground.
The D.A.'s office said while on the ground, Crawford was given commands to show his hands but refused. Crawford rolled over from his stomach with his hand in his waistband and Martin fired again. Crawford then said, "Ok you got me," and moved his hand away from his waistband. Crawford succumbed to his injuries while being treated at Kern Medical.
In the release, the D.A. said the fact that Crawford was not armed at the time of the shootings by Officer Martin does not make the two shootings unreasonable. According to the release, "This is because the appearance of danger is all that is necessary, actual danger is not."
In conclusion, the D.A.'s office said based on the review of evidence, the first use of deadly force is authorized to apprehend a dangerous, fleeing felon, and to act in defense of a reasonable perceived threat to Officer Garcia. The second shooting is also a response to a reasonably perceived threat requiring self-defense, and defense of Officer Garcia. Both shootings are legally justified according to the D.A.'s office.
In May 2019, the Bakersfield Police Department Critical Incident Review Board determined all shots fired by Officer Martin were justified and Officer Martin was returned to full duty.