Dramatic bodycam footage has emerged of a police-involved shooting in California showing the suspect firing the first shot at an officer before another cop fatally shot the man dead.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Monday that the officer who returned fire, fatally striking 22-year-old Matthew-Tuan Ahn Tran, was legally justified in using deadly force in the shooting on Aug. 6, 2021, outside of the La Habra Police Department headquarters.
Video from the deadly confrontation shows Officer Abigal Fox yelling out, “Hey, hey, hey” as her partner, Officer Mark Milward, turns around, trying to alert him to Tran pointing the gun at his back.
After being struck in the chest, Milward can be seen falling to the ground.
Fox then asks Milward if he is OK, to which he replies, “No” later adding that he was shot in the chest.
The officers had responded after a woman reported that she noticed a dark-colored sedan tailgating her on the freeway as she was driving home from work.
“(Jane) Doe informed LHPD dispatch that a young male driving an older black sedan continued to tailgate her even though she made several attempts to get out of his way,” officials said in a release.
Officials directed the woman to drive to the station, where she parked in front of the station. The tailgating suspect, later identified as Tran, parked behind the woman and attempted to enter the police department.
Dispatch attempted to speak to Tran through the building’s intercom, which he ignored and tried to open the door a second time. Officers Fox and Milward arrived at the station just after 7 p.m.
Fox spoke with the woman while Milward walked up to the station’s front doors to speak with Tran, who told him he was at the station to see someone.
Milward asked Tran if he was “involved” with either of the cars parked in front of the station, to which he replied that he wasn’t. The officer then said he would be with Tran in a minute and turned around to walk away.
Seconds later, “Tran removed a firearm from his waist belt, cocked it, and aimed it directly at Officer Milward’s back,” prosecutors wrote in a Nov. 18 letter to Police Chief Adam Foster, which was released Monday.
According to investigators, Tran fired two shots at Milward, only one of which hit him. The officer has since recovered from the injury.
In response, Fox fired five shots total at Tran, one of which hit him in the head. Tran was also struck in his body and right thigh. He was declared dead around 7:26 p.m. and a toxicology examination found THC, methamphetamine, and other related substances in his blood.
The Orange County District Attorney’s office found “no evidence of criminal culpability” by Fox.
“Officer Fox did not have time to de-escalate the situation or use less-lethal force because Tran was already firing at Officer Milward,” the letter stated, justifying her actions.