OCEANSIDE — The use of deadly force by three Oceanside police officers in the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man three years ago was “reasonable and justifiable,” a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled June 1.
“The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight,” said Judge Thomas Nugent in his ruling regarding the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Deana Del Rio against the city of Oceanside and the three officers involved in the incident.
Del Rio’s husband, Siaki Del Rio of Oceanside, was gunned down on the evening of Dec. 22, 2007, after a short vehicle pursuit ended when he crashed and then struggled with the officers and a police canine. Authorities said it was determined Siaki Del Rio, a parolee at the time, was under the influence of a controlled substance.
In the lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 5, 2009, in Vista Superior Court, Deana Del Rio alleged the officers’ actions — from the pursuit to the shooting — were negligent, court records state. She was seeking unspecified damages, burial costs and legal fees.
The three police officers — Erik Ellgard, Ryan Erwin and Jon Seabron — said they fired after they perceived Siaki Del Rio was reaching for a gun. Ellgard stated that Siaki Del Rio told him, “You’re damn right mother—er. I have a gun. I’ve got a gun.” Erwin said he believed he saw a muzzle flash when Siaki Del Rio rolled to his left side during the struggle leading him to believe the suspect had fired at them.
Each officer said they fired on the parolee without realizing the other was also firing. A handgun was found in Siaki Del Rio’s right jacket pocket.
Nugent said the circumstances, in part the fact that the officers were aware of Del Rio’s criminal history and that he was classified as armed and dangerous, created a fear of death or serious injury to the officers, and therefore it’s “irrelevant” whether Siaki Del Rio actually brandished the weapon or fired at them.
Siaki Del Rio had an extensive criminal history, including arrests for burglary, carjacking and drug possession, according to court documents.