The district attorney’s office has announced that a San Diego police officer was justified in the shooting of a car-theft suspect in February.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael R. Pent released the decision in a report to Police Chief Bob Burgreen on April 20. The report stated that Jerry Dean Drumel is in Sharp Memorial Hospital with brain damage and unable to talk. However, charges filed against Drumel by the police department are pending.
The report gave this account:
On Feb. 12, Hector Gutierrez Rochin and his girlfriend, Maritza Monclova-Molina, parked a black Volkswagen Jetta in a parking lot in the 1800 block of Quivira Road and went for a walk. When they returned, they saw a man stealing the car.
While chasing the suspect, Gutierrez asked two police officers for help. The three drove from Mission Bay Drive, then east on Midway Drive where one of the officers saw the car near Interstate 8.
Officers George C. Kathan and Richard Southard approached the car, and yelled “Stop, police! Stop!” Southard, with a shotgun pointed at the suspect, stood near the driver’s side, and Kathan stood in front of the car with a .38-caliber pistol. Kathan hit the hood of the car and repeated the phrase. The suspect started the car and drove forward. Kathan jumped back and fired at the suspect, hitting him in the left temple. The car ran over the right curb and stopped on the grass.
“With Officer Kathan standing immediately in front of the stolen car, Drumel posed a very real and immediate deadly threat when he caused the car to accelerate forward. Drumel’s actions after looking up and seeing the officer could very easily have resulted in Officer Kathan being run over. That certainly was Officer Kathan’s belief. Under these circumstances, Officer Kathan’s use of deadly force was justified and he bears no criminal liability for his act,” according to the report.