Chula Vista police release review of fatal officer-involved shooting in 2017

An administrative review of the investigation into a fatal shooting by Chula Vista police in 2017 released Monday concluded the officer followed department policy and also highlighted two shortcomings in connection with the incident.

On Sept. 19, 2017, Chula Vista Police Officer David Sachs fired the fatal shots that killed 27-year-old David Scott after Scott suddenly attacked the officer inside a home on Melrose Avenue and stabbed him in the face, head and arm.

Police had been called to the residence by a neighbor who complained he had been hit by a chunk of concrete hurled over a fence from Scott’s home. Scott’s mother let them into the home, when Scott suddenly and without provocation attacked Sachs.

District Attorney Summer Stephan determined last year that the shooting was a legal use of force.

The 24 pages of records were provided by the Chula Vista Police Department after a request by The San Diego Union-Tribune under SB 1421, a law that went into effect this year that made records of shootings, use of force, sexual assault and lying by officers accessible under the records law. Those types of records were previously confidential.

A group of labor unions representing eight departments in San Diego County last week won a stay temporarily halting the release of records. Chula Vista is not part of that suit and is not covered by the stay.

The records from Chula Vista include an Administrative Review of the shooting, an eight-page redacted document that summarizes the event and findings. The review is dated Jan. 28, just two weeks ago. Also included is a one-page opinion by a department expert on the use of force dated Jan. 10, and the April 2018 letter from Stephan absolving the officers of legal liability.

The review concluded that Sachs acted “within policy in using deadly force” against Scott, who had an extensive history of confrontations with police, assault with a deadly weapon and a DUI injury crash.

It noted other aspects of the incident aside from the use of deadly force. Communications from police radio to another channel were apparently not done as well as they should have been, though it is difficult to tell because the passage is redacted.

Both officers were accompanied by a civilian ride-along. The records redact the name, but news reports said it was a police chaplain. The review said the person wore a Chula Vista police polo shirt and some other item identifying the Police Department hanging from a chain around his neck. The person on the ride-along entered the home right behind the officers.

The review suggested changing department policy to “expressly prohibit any attire which may misidentify the ride-along as an officer.” It also said the department should consider prohibiting people on ride-alongs from entering homes until officers have deemed it safe.

It also noted that neither officer was carrying tourniquets. After Sachs was attacked and injured, his partner had to run to the patrol car to retrieve one. The review suggested making tourniquets a required piece of issued equipment for all officers.

Twitter: @gregmoran

greg.moran@sduniontribune.com

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