The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday that the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a Modesto woman during a slow speed pursuit through a Ripon neighborhood will face criminal charges for his actions.
The district attorney’s office is charging Deputy Justin Wall, 25, with voluntary manslaughter for the death of Evin Olsen Yadegar on Feb. 26, 2017.
The shooting was preceded by a slow speed pursuit that was initiated after law enforcement was called regarding a possible battery at a Modesto hotel. Shortly before 3 a.m. on Feb. 26, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to the Hampton Inn and Suites in the 4000 block of Sisk Road after a security guard reported an altercation with a woman, later identified as Yadegar.
The security guard provided a description of Yadegar and her vehicle, a Volkswagen sedan, and a deputy located it in the area of SIsk and Pirrone roads in Salida. A traffic stop was initiated, but Yadegar failed to stop and a pursuit ensued. It was a slow-moving pursuit that eventually wound its way to S. Manley Road and Tornell Circle in Ripon around 3:20 a.m.
There were six deputies from the sheriff’s department and three officers from the Ripon Police Department that were at the scene. Dashcam video from one of the vehicles shows Yadegar’s car blocked from behind and partially blocked from the front.
The dashcam video shows several of the deputies and officers approach Yadegar’s car — some with their guns drawn. The deputies and officers approached from the side and from the back of Yadegar’s vehicle, which she had momentarily stopped. Law enforcement was yelling at Yadegar to exit the vehicle when she put it in reverse and moved backward a couple of feet. She then put the car in drive and started to move around one of the law enforcement vehicles, which is when Wall fired four shots. Wall was standing to the side of the vehicle when he began shooting.
The vehicle continued around the corner and stopped briefly again. Wall is seen opening the driver side door and then the vehicle rolls forward and doesn’t stop until it crashes into a residence.
Wall fired four shots during the incident, one of which proved fatal. Life-saving measures were undertaken at the scene, but Yadegar was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
No one inside the home was injured in the incident.
None of the other officers at the scene fired their weapons.
Yadegar’s family has publicly stated she had a mental health issue and had been off her medication.
At the time of the incident Wall had been with the sheriff’s department for four years and was a canine handler.
The Officer Involved Critical Incident Protocol was invoked by the Ripon Police Department. The San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office dispatched its investigators as well as a prosecutor designated to oversee these incidents. In addition, the San Joaquin County Coroner and the California Department of Justice were also notified and became part of the Protocol Task Force. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department also conducted its own investigation. Wall was put on administrative leave as per department policy.
In announcing the decision to file charges against Wall, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office included a definition of voluntary manslaughter. “The relevant definition of voluntary manslaughter is the specific intent to kill a person under an honest but unreasonable belief in self-defense also known as an imperfect self-defense.”
"Law enforcement is a virtuous calling, and most of the women and men who answer the calling do so honorably, inspiring trust and protecting the safety of our communities,” said San Joaquin District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “I have seen up close the commitment to public service by those who risk their lives on our behalf. The responsibility to enforce the law brings with it an unflinching duty to follow its commands. No one is above the law. When individuals we entrust to uphold the law engage in acts that result in the death of others it is our duty to investigate those cases thoroughly, fairly and with due regard for the rule of law our office — and our partners in law enforcement — are sworn to uphold."
Following Monday’s announcement, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said Wall had been placed on administrative leave again. Sheriff Adam Christianson also released the following statement:
“Today we were notified of the San Joaquin County District
Attorney’s decision to charge Deputy Justin Wall with voluntary manslaughter
related to an officer involved shooting. This is a tragic event for the Yadegar
family, Deputy Wall, the Sheriff’s Office and our community. At this point, it
is inappropriate for us to comment further. We are confident that our system of
justice will determine the appropriate outcome.”