DA's Office: Long Beach Police Justified in Fatally Shooting Oregon Man

Police car on the street

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has determined that a Long Beach police detective and police officer were justified in fatally shooting an Oregon man who claimed to have explosives in his van and wielded what turned out to be a replica handgun during a nearly two-hour standoff, according to a document released today.

An eight-page memorandum on the March 7, 2018 shooting death of Donald MacFarlane concluded that Detective David Strohman and Officer Justin Krueger “acted lawfully in self-defense and in defense of others.''

The man's ex-wife called 911 to report that he was threatening to blow up the federal building in Long Beach and that he blamed the federal government because he had lost custody of his children, according to the document.

Police spotted him in his van and stopped him about 1 1/2 blocks west of the federal building, and members of a hostage negotiation team were summoned to the scene.

“MacFarlane made statements that he would not be taken alive and threatened to cause harm to others,'' prosecutors wrote in the document. “After numerous attempts to resolve the matter peacefully, officers assessed that further delay would only increase the risk of MacFarlane re-entering the van and causing harm to the public.''

After being struck by “sponge rounds'' from police, MacFarlane pointed what authorities eventually determined was a replica firearm in the direction of officers, who “reasonably perceived a threat of imminent and serious bodily harm or death and responded with deadly force,'' according to the memorandum.

“While the officers later learned the weapon was a replica firearm, this discovery did not change the reasonableness of the officers' actions. The officers' decision to use deadly force in these circumstances was reasonable,'' prosecutors concluded.

A police K-9 bit and held MacFarlane's left forearm as officers advanced, with officers subsequently administering first aid to the 53-year-old man, who died soon after being taken to a Long Beach hospital. Subsequent tests revealed the presence of amphetamines and methamphetamine, according to the document.

A bomb squad from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not find any explosives inside the white Ford Econoline van.

The District Attorney's Office also determined that three other fatal shootings by law enforcement were justified, including:

-- the June 17, 2107 shooting of Samantha Aguilar, 28, of Pico Rivera, who was shot after driving directly toward her boyfriend and Montebello Police Officer Brion Gorrell, briefly stopping her vehicle and accelerating toward them despite multiple commands by the officer to stop the vehicle.

-- the Feb. 25, 2018 shooting of Santos Nunez-Garcia by Los Angeles Police Sgt. James Muniz and Officer Melchor Oronoz, who responded to a call of a burglary in progress at a cannabis dispensary. A memorandum on the shooting noted that the 31-year-old man “had several opportunities to drop his handgun and surrender, but at least on two occasions raised his gun above the trash dumpster as he looked in Muniz' direction.''

-- the Oct. 30, 2019 shooting of Ricardo Myers by sheriff's Deputy Jonathan Lee after deputies responded to a family disturbance call in Lancaster. The 62-year-old man swung an ax toward Lee, who retreated and ordered him to drop the weapon. The suspect then began to raise the ax and step closer to another deputy, according to a report on the shooting.

Separately, the District Attorney's Office concluded that sheriff's deputies Luis Capilla, Michael Fillpot, Luisa Basurto and Maricela Dusky were “not criminally liable'' for the July 4, 2018 in-custody death of Eduard Jesse Matos. The 21-year-old man had climbed over several walls and jumped rooftops on a hot summer day, with an autopsy deeming the man's death “an accident due to the effects of methamphetamine,'' according to a memorandum by the District Attorney's Office.

Photo: Getty Images

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