Danville Police Officer Andrew Hall will stand trial on voluntary manslaughter in the 2018 shooting death of Laudemer Arboleda, but a judge threw out the charge of assault with a semi-automatic weapon, saying at a preliminary hearing Tuesday the prosecutor did not adequately prove the gun used was technically semi-automatic.
Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Terri Mockler said there was not enough evidence showing Hall’s claim of self-defense in firing ten bullets at Laudemer was legitimate. Hall’s defense team argued Arboleda was driving his car at Hall, and the shooting may have saved his life.
Mockler said there was not enough evidence that Arboleda was committing a violent felony, nor had a violent history.
“The car itself was not aimed at deputy Hall,” Mockler said.
“(Arboleda) didn’t need to die. This shouldn’t have happened.”Chris Walpole, assistant district attorney
Assistant District Attorney Chris Walpole showed the court video footage from multiple police cameras during the Nov. 3, 2018, chase. Police responded to reports of a suspicious man knocking on doors.
Arboleda, 33, stopped, then drove away from police at least three times on the footage — twice with at least one officer drawing his gun without firing. One of the officers were heard clearly saying not to shoot, before Arboleda drove away again. At one point, an officer was heard saying if the chase got near downtown, he would call it off.
The incident ended at the intersection of Diablo Road and Front Street, with two police units behind Arboleda’s gray Honda Civic, and two in front, including Hall’s. There was enough space to drive between the police cars, which Arboleda tried doing when Hall opened fire from the front driver’s side of Arboleda’s car, hitting the Newark man nine times.
Mockler said the footage showed Arboleda started maneuvering between the police cars while Hall was still behind his own car.
The video, shown in open court in front of members of Arboleda’s family, appeared to show Hall not taking cover before shooting, but stepping back as the car got closer. An officer in the car on the other side of Arboleda was still in his vehicle.
A split-second decision
After Arboleda was shot, his car proceeded through the intersection and struck at least one other westbound car before stopping against the Diablo Road curb. Officers broke the driver’s side window to get to Arboleda, who was slumped against the seat.
Hall’s lawyer Harry Stern said other officers at the scene told investigators they feared for Hall’s safety as Arboleda drove away. Stern said the fact that the car didn’t hit Hall may have proved the shooting was a necessary, split-second decision.
“Deputy Hall absolutely had the right to defend himself,” Stern said, adding that officers made it clear throughout it was a serious situation and Arbodela needed to stop.
Walpole said it wasn’t “a high-speed pursuit by any stretch of the imagination,” but “a slow pursuit based on ringing some doorbells.” He also played dispatch audio, which went long stretches without any talking, which he said indicated police did not consider the chase very dangerous.
Walpole said Hall “charged into the situation” and could have shot the officer on the other side of Arboleda’s car.
“(Arboleda) didn’t need to die,” Walpole said. “This shouldn’t have happened.”
Danville contracts for police services through the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. A sheriff’s investigation after the 2018 incident cleared Hall of any wrongdoing. The district attorney announced it was pressing charges in the 2018 case after Hall was involved in a second shooting earlier this year.
On March 11, Hall responded to reports of a man throwing rocks onto Interstate Highway 680 from the Sycamore Valley Road overpass. Law enforcement officials have said 32-year-old transient Tyrell Wilson approached Hall near the overpass with a folding knife and Hall shot him in self-defense. The shooting is still being investigated. The families of the deceased in both incidents said the men suffered from mental health issues.
Hall, who pleaded not guilty last month and is currently on paid administrative leave, will be arraigned in Contra Costa County Superior Court Aug. 9.