Returns to Field This Week : Investigation Continues Into Deputy’s Latest Shooting
A deputy who has shot three suspected lawbreakers in nine months, one of them fatally, will return to field work by Saturday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday.
William Anderson, a Vista deputy with four years of experience, was placed on administrative leave after he shot and wounded a 16-year-old boy Tuesday after a car chase in North County. A homicide detective investigating the incident said the teen-ager, who was driving a stolen car, was not resisting arrest at the time of the shooting. Anderson has told investigators that he fired accidentally.
Anderson had pursued the juvenile through a Vista neighborhood after the youth fled on foot from the stolen car, according to sheriff’s officials. Anderson was handcuffing the prone teen-ager when a single shot from his service revolver grazed the youth’s cheek, sheriff’s Lt. John Tenwolde said.
The juvenile was treated and released from a hospital, then booked on car-theft charges.
Cleared in Second Shooting
Meanwhile Tuesday, the district attorney’s office cleared Anderson in the shooting of another suspect last November. The fatal shooting of an allegedly drunk driver by Anderson on May 5 is still under investigation, Tenwolde said.
Although Anderson was cleared in the Nov. 23 shooting, a report by the district attorney’s Special Operations Division raised questions about the deputy’s judgment.
“Deputy Anderson’s conclusion that (Sergio) Castillo still presented a danger to the community sufficient to justify the application of deadly force is not supported by the evidence or reason,” wrote the investigators in a report to Sheriff John Duffy. “The only logical conclusion is that Deputy Anderson was concerned that Castillo might get away.”
But the report says that the shooting was legal because Castillo may have earlier attempted to run down Anderson with his car. Castillo, who was wounded in the hand, later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
After the May shooting, Anderson said he killed 28-year-old Junior Sylvester Clarke, a suspected drunken driver, in self-defense. The two had scuffled after Anderson chased down the fleeing Clarke on foot.
History Could Be Factor
Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Pent, head of the Special Operations Division, said that Anderson’s history may play a part in the investigation of the latest shooting.
“You have to consider whether they are relevant, and, if they are, we will look at them,” Pent said of the earlier incidents.
The district attorney’s investigators will try to determine whether Tuesday’s shooting was indeed an accident, Pent said. If it was, no legal charges will be filed against Anderson.
Although Pent said he has not yet received a report on the incident, he added, “I would have to say that (three shootings in nine months) is not the norm.”
But Tenwolde, who heads the sheriff’s investigation into the latest shooting, said he is already sure it was accidental.
“You can’t just be an armchair quarterback; you had to have been there,” he said. “He said it was an accident, and we have no reason to believe that it was anything other than that.”
Police procedures for taking a suspect into custody vary widely according to the situation, but future deputies at the Southwestern College training academy are taught to handcuff a suspect with both hands if another officer is present and can cover them, said sheriff’s Lt. Jerry Snow. Snow is the training coordinator at the academy. Tenwolde said at least one other officer was on the scene when Anderson was handcuffing the teen-ager.
Meanwhile, Anderson can return to work because he has the approval of a psychologist to do so, said Sgt. Don Crist of the sheriff’s personnel department. Psychological evaluation of the officer is standard procedure after a shooting.