ESCONDIDO — Escondido police on Thursday, April 29, released bodycam video footage of the fatal shooting of a homeless man who was shot by an officer last week. The officer was responding to 911 calls of a man reportedly hitting cars with a “metal pole.”
The incident occurred on the morning of Wednesday, April 21, near the intersection of 2nd Ave and Broadway.
The transient has been identified as 59-year-old Steven John Olson. He was shot by Officer Chad Moore.
The video, nearly 9 minutes long, includes portions of the 911 calls, surveillance cameras, photographs of the scene and bodycam footage.
It starts off with 911 calls describing a man hitting objects with a metal object. The video then shows an officer, Officer Martinez, first making contact with Olson in a parking lot and telling Olson multiple times to put down the crowbar.
Olson, who was speaking incoherently, ran away.
Olson appeared to be under the influence of something but was not displaying any threatening behavior, Escondido police Lt. Kevin Toth said in the video.
Moore came into contact with Olson a few minutes later.
“Officer Moore recognized Olson as the subject described in the previous 911 call and he has had numerous contact with him in the past,” Toth said. “Officer Moore attempted to address Olson from inside his vehicle using his loudspeaker, but Olson did not respond.”
The footage then shows Moore exiting his vehicle and Olson advancing on Moore with the metal object in hand.
Toth said Moore drew his handgun and gave Olson several commands to drop the crowbar as he backed away approximately 65 feet before firing several rounds at Olson from a distance of about 7 feet.
The video shows Moore backing away while yelling at Olson, “Drop it now … Steven … you’re gonna get shot.”
To which Olson responded, “I know and you’re gonna get hit.”
Moore continued to back away from Olson yelling at him to drop the crowbar.
He yelled “drop it” one last time before shooting Olson several times.
“3K shots fired,” Moore said into his radio. “Suspect is down. Start medics. I am Code-4 (uninjured).”
According to Toth, Olson was shot six times. Additional officers arrived and began performing life-saving measures on Olson before he was transported to a local hospital. He was later pronounced dead.
Toth said that over the past year, Olson had been arrested four times for “threatening people with deadly weapons. Including a box cutter, a knife, a piece of metal and a stick.”
He added that Olson “was previously sent to prison for an assault with a deadly weapon and served a prison term for that crime.”
Moore has been placed on administrative leave, according to the department.
“Steven Olson had an extensive pattern of violent criminal behavior. I do not share this to vilify him,” said Escondido Police Chief Ed Varso in the video. “Steven needed extensive help. Instead, he was placed into a seriously flawed or revolving door system that processes people from jail to the streets, to services to the streets, back to jail and back to the streets.”
According to Varso, the incident is currently under investigation by the Escondido Police Department and will include an independent review by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI to determine if the officer’s actions were reasonable under the law.