BREAKING: OC District Attorney Exonerates Officer Phillips In Joel Acevedo Shooting

The OC District Attorney’s office has published its letter from OCDA Senior Deputy District Attorney Stephen J. McGreevy to interim Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada, detailing its “official investigation and legal conclusion” regarding the officer-involved shooting of Joel Acevedo on July 22, 2012.

Here’s the letter. I haven’t read the letter, but here is the conclusion:

“Based on all evidence provided to the OCDA, the entirety of the facts contained in the reports reviewed, and pursuant to the applicable legal principles, it is our legal opinion that the evidence does not support a finding of criminal culpability on the part of Officer Phillips and there is substantial evidence that the officer’s actions were justified under the circumstances when he shot Acevedo on July 22, 2012.”

“Accordingly, the OCDA is closing its inquiry into this incident.”

UPDATE: After reading the letter, I don’t see how any reasonable person can conclude the shooting wasn’t justified.  The evidence supports the testimony of Officers Kelly Phillips, Trang Pham and Daniel Lambaren. There is no evidence to support the cockamamie theory that the officers “executed” Acevedo and planted the gun on him.

As the letter summarizes the evidence:

  • Officer Phillips knew the individuals involved attempted to flee from police even before the police had attempted to stop them, that they had engaged in a high speed chase, that the driver was affiliated with a criminal street gang, that they were in the main area of the gang’s criminal activity, and that one of the fleeing passengers of this car dropped and then picked up a heavy object that was consistent with a weapon.
  • Officers Phillips, Pham and Lambaren were dressed as police officers and engaged in a foot pursuit of these three individuals;
  • Officer Philips saw Acevedo in close proximity to his location and then heard gunfire from Acevedo’s direction;
  • When Officer Phillips heard the gunshots, Acevedo was in a position of advantage — i.e., Acevedo was concealed in the darkness behind a car while Officer Phillips was standing vulnerable in the parking lot;
  • Officer Phillips then saw Acevedo moving behind a car and he believed that he was in a “kill or be killed” scenario when he shot Acevedo;
  • After shooting Acevedo, Officer Phillips saw a gun in Acevedo’s hands;
  • Acevedo’s DNA was found on a gun located by CSI investiogator’s by Acevedo’;s feet;
  • 3 expended cartridges were found near Acevedo that were found to have been fired from Acevedo’s firearm;
  • A bullet fired from Acevedo’s gun was located in the parking lot behind the area where Officer Phillips had stood prior to shooting at Acevedo.

Put more simply: Joel Acevedo was a gang member with a  criminal record. He was high on drugs while a passenger in a stolen car whose driver was fleeing police; he jumped out of the car and ran away from the police; he then hid among parked cars and fired several rounds from a concealed position at the pursuing officer, who was in an exposed position — and the officer fired back. Three ejected casings and a fired bullet from Acevedo’s gun were recovered and Acevedo’s DNA was on the pistol.

The driver of the stolen SUV and source of the “Joel Acevedo was executed” story is shown to have no credibility.

Of course, there are those who will persist in believing — against all evidence — that the Anaheim police executed Acevedo and planted the gun. That is because to the conspiracist, the lack of evidence proves the conspiracy.

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  1. uh oh, bad timing, this is just in time for Sunday’s protest. Anaheim residents and businesses will have a lot to deal with this weekend.

    • Anaheim residents will have their voices heard while Anaheim businesses will reap benefits from visitors who won’t be spending their money at Disney for once.

      • You mean drug dealers at Little People’s Park will reap benefits. In that case not Disney, not any legit businesses will lose because they don’t sell illegal narcotics in the first place!

  2. Sick of politics

    Good news for officer Phillips.

  3. Donna Acevedo should apologize to the owner of the stolen Lexus automobile and to the police officer her son tried to murder.

    • Well, do you know what, you insolent bigot? You’re ignorant of the truth of the situation, the car was not stolen, it wasn’t claimed and so they said it was stolen, and henceforth your statement has no apparent fact, nor does it have any real evidence behind it. Why in the whole of this uncivil, immoral, and inhumane situation would you ask of her an apology? Are you that deprived of a sense of right and wrong to think it so justified a death that the mother of the child who died should apologize?! You would be better wishing for a massacre of thousands of innocents, than to ask a mother to apologize for her dead child! I truly pity you, a man who will never know what love truly is, as his head will always be filled up with the masks and farce of this society.

      • Your sibling fired three shots at Anaheim Police Officers from an illegal firearm. That is attempted murder of a police officer. I expect your mother to stop acting like a fool and offer an apology for her son’s violence against society. James Robert Reade.

    • The Anaheim police department needs to apologize for the commission and/or participation in the cover up of:

      Harassment and intimidation
      Deliberate property damage
      Deliberate reputation destruction
      Heinous home privacy violations
      attempted murder

      Take the log out of your own eyes before complaining of the speck in someone else’s

      • German, your public comments at Anaheim City Council are foolish. You are extremely confused. You do not make any sense. The only thing you state that sounds true, is that you live across the street.

        • Your criticisms are extremely vague. However, congratulations for attempting to poke holes in my allegations to my face. Something oddly enough, Mr. Reade, no law enforcement/political leader in Orange County has done – including Loretta Sanchez and the Los Angeles division of the FBI.

          90+ weeks and counting.

  4. Sick of politics

    Phillips should bring suit against Acevedo for slandering his name.

  5. There were FIVE shots. FIVE! Three are IN Acevedo, TWO are in the walls of 308 and 314 respectively. One ricocheted from a car on the street side and went into the wall. That would mean FOUR of the FIVE bullets were from Kelly Phillips’ gun. The car was reported stolen BY POLICE AFTER the incident. No one would claim the car. The car was being FOLLOWED not pulled over

  6. @Sick of Politics- An Phillips should be convicted for murder also. An not get his happy little behind covered by the DA. @James Robert Reade- Well guess what she was the one that lost a son not Phillips so maybe Kelly Phillips should apologize for killing her son. I was there when Joel Acevedo was shot by Officer Kelly Phillips I know what happened. There where kids in the street when this happened an guess what they seen it but there stories will never be told because adults with close minds like y’all will not listen to kids. So if you where not there that night to see it with your own freaking eyes then STFU. Thank you have a wonderful night.

    -Anonymous-

  7. Phillips.K should face the fact that he murder two people and should go to prison for it. People who say otherwise is closed mined. It shouldn’t take a loved one to die to realize that the world is corrupted.

  8. Just glancing at this, going to mostly be taking apart the DA whitewash report itself, but I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Wordsmith Cunningham understands the meaning of the word “evidence,” when the first five of the nine items he includes in his bullet list of “evidence” are just things the officers claimed happened.

    • Sick of Politics

      By that standard, none of the witness statements should be admissible either.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Oh, we can hardly wait to read that exercise in unreality, Vern!

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Did the police conjure up the shell casings and bullet? Are you seriously going to claim they were planted by the police? Are you seriously going to take the word of the driver if the stolen vehicle over three police officers?

      I get that you have formed some sort of friendship or emotional bond with Donna Acevedo, Vern. But I hope you aren’t going to deny reality and sell a crack-pot conspiracy theory for the sake of that friendship.

    • What “evidence” are you going on, Vern? What Vanessa Duran “claimed happened”?

      I read your blog. I disagree with you most of the time, but thought your opinions were honest ones. Now I see you’re willing to compromise your integrity for someone else’s agenda. What a shame.

      • West Anaman, I and others have been investigating this particular case for a while now, and the DA released just the sort of whitewash we’ve all come to expect from them. Just … patience. I know what I will have to say will be hard to swallow.

  9. “Did the police conjure up the shell casings and bullet? Are you seriously going to claim they were planted by the police?”

    You and I were not there, but rumors are flying that the gun was planted, and I would like to see those rumors put to rest before things get heated again. The only way to prove Acevedo’s guilt is to produce the tests showing gunpowder residue on his hands and/or clothing. Where are those tests? Why is Officer Phillips not screaming for those test results to be released to erase the shadow of suspicion on his reputation?

    • Matthew Cunningham

      So, because “rumors are flying” (basically among the same people who already think the police are racist killers), then Officer Phillips has to prove he didn’t murder Joel Acevedo?

    • Or rather, Cynthia, shouldn’t we just find out the truth, whether things get heated or not? Which I don’t imagine they will, it takes an awful lot to get things “heated” around here.

      We actually know from Vanessa’s lawyer that Joey had no residue on his hands or clothing or anywhere. And several – three – gun aficionados I’ve talked to confirm that shooting that Smith and Wesson semi-automatic three times the way he supposedly did, he woulda HAD to have something on him. (Not to mention fingerprints on the gun.)

      You’ll notice none of that is mentioned in the DA report, because those are facts that weaken the police’s story. Yes, the DA’s report reads like a defense brief for the cops, leaving out anything inconvenient; I was shocked to notice that but I guess I’m naive, I’m now told this DA’s reports nearly always have that characteristic.

      One other little thing I gotta throw in – out of many: The DA takes pains – several paragraphs – to heap discredit on Vanessa, the witness who claims it was an execution. Equal discredit should accrue to the officers for failing to turn on (or maybe for turning off) their Digital Audio Recorders, which Anaheim taxpayers had just spent $300 grand on. Why would Phillips and company turn off their recorders if they didn’t think they were about to do something wrong, and why should we take their word over Vanessa’s?

      Tip of the iceberg here, believe me…

      • Matthew Cunningham

        OK, Vern. How does Vanessa Duran’s lawyer know this? And if you have known about this information that supposedly blows a whole in the DA’s report, why have you been sitting on it?

  10. Sick of Politics

    And how exactly do the police plant a gun without getting any of their DNA or prints on it?

  11. Sick of Politics

    The absence of GSR does not render a suspect innocent of firing a gun . There may be several reasons why it does not show up (I.e the weather at the time of shooting or the time frame under which the GSR was collected.) GSR testing is just one piece of the puzzle. As in the case of the shooting, not one single factor can determine the outcome. The last thing any of us want is a bad cop on the street. But if you’re going to call a cop (or any person) a murderer, shouldn’t there be some proof?

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