Prosecutors in Northern California have filed charges against a police officer in connection with the April shooting death of a Black man inside a Walmart during an encounter than lasted less than 40 seconds.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced on Wednesday the filing of a felony voluntary manslaughter charge against San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher in the death of Steven Taylor.
“The decision to file the criminal complaint was made after an intensive investigation and thorough analysis of the evidence and the current law,” O'Malley said in a statement. "Charging a police officer with voluntary manslaughter is not a decision that is made lightly, nor rashly."
Officers were called to the Walmart on April 18 after receiving reports of a man waving a baseball bat. Store security said he tried leaving without paying for the item.
In police body-camera footage released by the San Leandro Police Department, an officer is seen trying to take the aluminum bat away from Taylor near a shopping cart area in front of the store entrance.
No audio is heard for the first 30 seconds of the encounter. After Taylor ignores the officer's commands to drop the bat, the officer draws his weapon.
When Taylor still refuses, the officer twice deploys a Taser, which fails to subdue him. The officer points his weapon at Taylor and again orders him to drop the bat.
"Drop the bat, man," he is heard saying. "Drop the bat."
As Taylor appears to stagger a few steps forward, the officer fires a shot. Taylor drops the bat and staggers a few steps in another direction and falls to the floor.
Taylor was hit in the upper torso and was later pronounced dead. O'Malley said Taylor experienced the shock of the Taser and was leaning forward and stumbling before he was shot.
"Mr. Taylor was struggling to remain standing as he pointed the bat at the ground," she said. "Mr. Taylor posed no threat of imminent deadly force or serious bodily injury to defendant Fletcher or anyone else in the store. Defendant Fletcher shot Mr. Taylor in the chest just as backup Officer Overton arrived in the store."
In a statement, San Leandro Police Chief Jeff Tudor said it's important "we allow the judicial process to take its course."
"I know the loss of Steven Taylor has deeply affected this community," he said.
Fletcher is expected to appear in court on Sept. 15. His status with the police force was not clear. Tudor referred questions to O'Malley's office, which did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment.