San Diego

The San Diego County district attorney’s office said a police officer had a right to fire when he shot and wounded a man armed with a hatchet who was reportedly stealing street signs.

In a report released by police Tuesday, the district attorney’s office says it was reasonable for officer Randy Burgess to fire at Billy Joe Jackson on May 7 when Jackson pulled a metal and wood object from his waistband, an object Burgess and his partner, Officer Stanley Peloza, believed to be a weapon.

Burgess fired once and struck Jackson in the right groin, police spokesman Dave Cohen said.

Cohen said the two officers had been summoned to the 3900 block of Boston Avenue shortly after 3 a.m., where they reportedly saw Jackson dragging a 12-foot metal pole with street signs attached and an 8-foot pole. Thinking the man was deranged, Cohen said, the officers pulled their handguns and ordered Jackson to drop the poles, which he did.


At that point, Cohen said, the officers noticed the object, and Burgess yelled at Jackson to keep his hands up and turn around with his back to the officers. Instead, Jackson faced the officers and began to draw the hatchet, Cohen said.

Cohen said the district attorney’s review, which was sent to Chief Robert Burgreen last Wednesday, says Jackson was required to obey the officer’s command to turn around, and it was reasonable for Burgess to conclude that Jackson intended to pull his hatchet.