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California prosecutor declines to charge police officer who shot unarmed teenager

California prosecutor declines to charge police officer who shot unarmed teenager


Embattled Orange County Prosecutor Tony Rackauckas will not prosecute a police officer who shot an unarmed 18-year-old.

Rackauckas announced in a letter last month that there’s insufficient evidence that Santa Ana Detective David Prewett committed a crime in the January shooting of Steve Salgado.

This is the second time Prewett has been cleared in a fatal shooting of an unarmed man.

Police said Prewett was on anti-gang patrol when his unit approached a car blocking an alley. Salgado, who police say was a known gang member, got out and ran away with his hand on something in his pocket, possibly leading Prewett to believe Salgado was armed.

He was shot after looking back at police. Cell phones and drug paraphernalia was found on Salgado’s body, but no weapons.

Prewett was one of several officers who shot Elmer Perez in 2010 while Perez was holding a toy gun. Prewett declined to give a statement to investigators after both shootings.

After Salgado, who was Latino, was killed, about 30 people protested his death by marching to the Santa Ana police department.

The decision to clear Prewett is another controversial decision for Rackauckas. As In Justice Today has previously reported, Rackauckas has drawn a challenger for his 2018 reelection bid after numerous scandals have hurt his popularity.

His office is being investigated by the California Attorney General and federal authorties over allegations he planted jailhouse snitches in the county jail and in January 2016, a special committee that Rackauckas set up concluded that there was a “failure of leadership” in his office.

Rackauckas was also removed from the death penalty prosecution of Scott Dekraai because of his office’s failure to turn over evidence to the defense. Furthermore, several investigators in his office also claim that the district attorney interfered in multiple investigations and engaged in cover ups when police broke the law.