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Stanislaus County deputy charged in on-duty shooting death of woman

A Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy was charged Monday in the on-duty shooting death of a woman who led authorities on a pursuit, officials said.

Justin Wall was charged with one felony count of voluntary manslaughter in the fatal 2017 shooting of Evin Olsen Yadegar, according to the San Joaquin County district attorney's office. The move marked a rare instance of a law enforcement officer being prosecuted for an on-duty shooting.

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The shooting, which occurred in February of last year, was captured by a dashboard camera in a roughly 3-minute recording that was released by the district attorney’s office.

The incident began when deputies were dispatched to a Hampton Inn in the Modesto area regarding a battery. Yadegar was identified as a suspect and found driving her Volkswagen sedan.

When a deputy tried to pull her over, she failed to stop. A slow-speed pursuit ensued and several law enforcement officers, including Ripon police, were involved. Wall was one of them.

Eventually, Yadegar stopped her car in a neighborhood in Ripon. The dash-cam video shows a sheriff’s SUV pull up, partially blocking the front of her car. Several deputies and officers, including a K-9 unit, approach her car on foot. At least one orders her to open the door.

Less than a minute after she stopped, Yadegar’s car appears to briefly move in reverse before she takes off again. As Yadegar maneuvers around the SUV, Wall fires four shots at her. None of the other officers open fire.

Yadegar’s car turns a corner, and the officers and deputies follow. At one point, a deputy opens the door of Yadegar’s moving car. The car keeps moving until it appears to collide with a home.

Prosecutors said officers provided medical aid. Yadegar was pronounced dead at a hospital. She suffered a single gunshot wound.

The Ripon Police Department, the district attorney’s office, the San Joaquin County Coroner and the California Department of Justice were involved in the investigation.

Dist. Atty. Tori Verber Salazar authorized the filing of a felony voluntary manslaughter charge.

In announcing the charge, the district attorney’s office pointed to what it called the relevant definition of the offense: “The specific intent to kill a person under an honest but unreasonable belief in self-defense also known as an imperfect self-defense.”

Verber Salazar said in a statement that the “responsibility to enforce the law brings with it an unflinching duty to follow its commands.

“No one is above the law,” she added. “When individuals we entrust to uphold the law engage in acts that result in the death of others, it is our duty to investigate those cases thoroughly, fairly and with due regard for the rule of law our office — and our partners in law enforcement — are sworn to uphold.”

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