Deputies fired 35 rounds at Paso Robles man killed during traffic stop

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies fired 35 rounds at a suicidal Paso Robles man who was armed with a BB gun, according to a district attorney’s office report on the deadly shooting. [Tribune]

On Jan. 24, 2017, deputies Jonathan Calvert and Greg Roach shot and killed Josh Gallardo, 34, after pulling him over on Highway 101 in Atascadero because he was wanted over a domestic disturbance case. The shooting has prompted a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, the two deputies and Sheriff Ian Parkinson.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the SLO County District Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation and determined the killing of Gallardo was lawful. The county then refused to release the DA’s office findings following a Cal Coast Times records request.

However, California now has a law that makes the findings of investigations into officer-involved shootings public records. As a result, the DA’s office recently released its report on the shooting.

Roach and Calvert pulled over Gallardo shortly after midnight upon spotting Gallardo’s vehicle and knowing the Paso Robles man had a warrant out for his arrest, according to the DA’s office report. The deputies approached the vehicle with their guns drawn because they thought that Gallardo might be dangerous.

Gallardo told the deputies he wanted them to kill him, and he had an agitated or angry look on his face, the report states. Gallardo at times complied with Calvert’s demands. 

Roach, who was on the passenger side of the car, noticed Gallardo’s hand move toward his right pocket and pull out a gun that Gallardo then swung toward the driver’s door, according to the report. Roach fired into the car, and Calvert, while seeing the door opening, also fired into the vehicle.

In all, Roach fired 15 rounds and Calvert fired 20 rounds. An autopsy revealed Gallardo had been shot seven times, including a fatal shot to the head.

Other deputies who arrived at the scene found a black semi-automatic pistol in Gallardo’s lap. The weapon was a BB gun that was a replica of a Walther PKK that Gallardo purchased six days earlier, according to the DA’s office report.

The report concludes it was reasonable to conclude the gun in Gallardo’s hand was a firearm.

Additionally, the report discusses Gallardo’s apparent suicidal state, as well as cocaine use. Gallardo had sent his estranged wife suicidal messages, including a photo of him holding a gun to his head. A suicide note was reportedly found in the trunk of Gallardo’s car.

A search of Gallardo’s room at the Carlton Hotel in Atascadero revealed about seven grams of cocaine. Likewise, a toxicology report showed Gallardo had a potentially toxic level of cocaine in his blood when he died.

The DA’a report does not address the civil liability of the deputies who shot Gallardo nor their compliance with sheriff’s office policies and procedures. The report does, though, counter a claim in the suit that Gallardo was complying with the deputies’ every command.

In the lawsuit, filed by attorneys Justin Sterling and Erin Darling, Gallardo’s widow alleges excessive force and gross negligence in the killing of her husband. The suit also alleges the sheriff’s office knew or should have known that Calvert and Roach “had dangerous propensities for abusing their authority and for mistreating citizens.”

Four years before Calvert fired multiple rounds at Gallardo, he shot an unarmed man in the back in Long Beach. On March 21, 2013, Calvert spotted Matthew Frushon, a suspect in a robbery, on a Long Beach street and attempted to detain him. 

While running from Calvert, Frushon took a cell phone out of his pocket. Thinking Frushon was armed, Calvert shot him in the back and in the elbow, police said.

The city of Long Beach and Calvert eventually settled a civil rights lawsuit over the shooting. Calvert resigned from the Long Beach Police Department in 2016 and was hired by the SLO County Sheriff’s Office a few months later. 

Following the fatal shooting of Gallardo, the sheriff’s office claimed the Paso Robles man was a transient and a violent person. Gallardo was a lifelong Paso Robles resident who was working at Kellogg’s at the time of his death. 

In the year prior to his death, Gallardo became estranged from his wife. An incident occurred in which Gallardo was arrested after threatening to kill himself with a knife and then pushing his wife. 

Gallardo later moved into his mother’s home and would at times stay in a hotel. But Gallardo was not violent and not homeless, his wife said.

A hearing in the civil case is scheduled for March 4 in Los Angeles.

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