For what is thought to be the first time in city history, a San Diego police officer has been slapped with a criminal charge for an on-duty shooting.
Christopher Chaney, 34, a five-year veteran, was charged Friday with felony assault with a deadly weapon for shooting a fleeing suspect after a high-speed chase on the night of Oct. 10. Released without bail, Chaney has been placed in a desk job pending arraignment Jan. 5.
The shooting incident began when Chaney spotted three men in a car and, believing the driver was acting suspiciously, tried to pull them over. A chase ensued on California 905 and a side street.
When the car being chased stalled, the three men attempted to flee, and 23-year-old Antonio Bogarin was shot once through the arm, according to prosecutors.
Police Chief Jerry Sanders, who had recommended that Chaney be charged, said that an internal affairs investigation developed evidence that contradicted the officer's version of events. He declined to be specific.
Sanders asked station commanders to discuss the unprecedented case with officers at roll call to forestall any negative impact on morale among the 1,800-member force. Sanders said he had once ridden with Chaney on patrol: "I thought he was a good officer."
Although no San Diego officers have been charged with on-duty shootings, officers have been charged for other on-duty misdeeds, including brutality and burglary. In 1989, an officer was convicted of fatally shooting his wife, and in 1992 an officer was convicted of a string of rapes while off duty.
It is exceedingly rare in San Diego County for officers from any of the law enforcement agencies to be prosecuted for on-duty shootings. In 1984, a jury acquitted an Escondido officer in the fatal shooting of a hostage taken by a bank robber. In 1978, the grand jury refused a request by prosecutors to indict a National City officer who killed a fleeing suspect.