ESCONDIDO — Authorities on April 26 publicly identified a homeless man who allegedly advanced on an Escondido police officer in a menacing manner last week with a 2-foot-long crowbar in his hand, prompting the lawman to fatally shoot him.
Steven John Olson, 59, allegedly had been hitting cars with the metal tool near the intersection of Broadway and Second Avenue when Officer Chad Moore approached him shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday, April 21, according to the Escondido Police Department.
Seeing the patrolman, the suspect “immediately advanced on (him) while holding the same metal tool in a threatening manner,” EPD Chief Ed Varso said.
“The officer gave multiple commands to drop the tool, as well as several use-of-force warnings,” Varso said. “The (suspect) continued to advance on the officer, who was backing away, and he was ultimately shot.”
Paramedics took Olson to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A man who identified himself as Laban Davis told News8 near the scene of the shooting that he had witnessed the deadly confrontation, calling it “crazy” and “unnecessary.”
“The guy wasn’t really no threat,” he said.
Davis, who said he counted five or six gunshots, said the suspect was holding the crowbar above his head but was “just walking” when he was shot.
“He wasn’t running (or) swinging it,” Davis told the station.
The officers involved in the incident had their uniform-worn cameras activated during the incident, according to Varso.
“As soon as possible we will be releasing portions of those videos to provide the public with a better understanding of what happened,” Varso said last week.
The suspect was “well known” to Escondido police, having had a long history of property crimes and violent offenses, including assaults on officers, according to Varso.
Olson had been booked into county jail 188 times since 2002 and was involved in more than 20 service calls this year, Varso said.
Moore has been an officer with the Escondido Police Department since 2013, according to the agency. He has been placed on administrative leave, according to the department.
Protestors gathered outside of the Escondido Police Department on the night of the shooting, and another protest was held outside City Hall on Wednesday.
Coast News reporter Tigist Layne contributed to this report.