Only two of three Menlo Park police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a burglary suspect on Nov. 11 were wearing body cameras. One camera may have been turned on after the shooting, and one may have been left off, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. The investigation is ongoing and evidence analysis is not yet complete.
The shooting occurred on Willow Road, near Willow Place, in Menlo Park.
Only two cameras have been submitted to the DA's office, which is conducting a standard review of the shooting. The third officer's camera had been turned in for repairs, so he was not wearing one, the district attorney said.
The police department identified the officers last week as Sgt. Jaime Romero and officers Scott Mackdanz and Nicholas Douglas. All three are on paid leave, as is department policy, Police Chief Bob Jonsen said. Sgt. Romero has been an officer for 18 years, Officer Mackdanz for 16, and Officer Douglas for 11.
The attorney representing Sgt. Romero said his camera was turned on at some point, but that she didn't know what was on it. "I haven't had the chance to review the footage," Alison Berry Wilkinson said.
The three officers were involved in a foot chase along Willow Road after an employee reported spotting a suspected burglar near 64 Willow Place. Jerry Lee Matheny, 52, of Riverside County, fled as police arrived. According to the report, he pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officers after they attempted to stop the pursuit with a Taser. Sgt. Romero told his attorney that he heard a shot and then returned fire.
All three officers fired their guns, Mr. Wagstaffe said. The crime lab has not yet determined whether Mr. Matheny had shot at them. The district attorney said his office will not be releasing further details until the investigation is concluded in four to six weeks.
At the time of the shooting, Mr. Matheny was wanted by the state for parole violation related to drug charges, and also had two counts of felony commercial burglary and one count of identity theft pending in San Mateo County.
The Menlo Park police department declined to state whether anyone had reviewed the camera footage before turning it over, and referred all questions to the District Attorney's Office.
The department began using body cameras, which must be activated manually, in late 2013. Department policy requires that all on-duty contact with citizens be recorded, but does allow exemptions for urgent, dangerous situations where the officer's safety is jeopardized.