Prosecutors in the Orange County district attorney's office said Monday that a police officer's fatal shooting of a Huntington Beach man was justified.
Huntington Beach Police Officer Doug Martin was cleared in the death of Ian Berrier, 20, whom he shot during an incident March 21 in a neighborhood near Warner Avenue and Green Lane, according to an investigation report by the district attorney's office.
Martin had received a call at around 4:30 p.m. to respond to trouble at a restaurant off Warner. The owner said he had been threatened by a man with a gun, who was later identified as Berrier. He was accompanied by a woman who accused Berrier of stealing her credit card.
The report states that the restaurant owner received threats from Berrier but never saw the firearm.
As Martin was en route to the scene, an officer in a police helicopter spotted the man and woman walking west through a parking lot behind the restaurant.
Berrier and the woman were seen jumping a fence in between some homes on Green as they headed west toward Hoskins Lane. The pilot relayed the whereabouts of the suspects to Martin as he approached the scene in his car traveling west on Warner.
As Martin headed north on Hoskins, he saw a suspect matching Berrier's description walking in the middle of the street, the officer told investigators.
Berrier saw Martin and began to walk "briskly" toward the curb, according to the report, which added that the woman was not seen with the suspect.
The officer told investigators that the suspect began to side-step while his hands were "in his waistband fidgeting," which led Martin to believe Berrier had a firearm.
When Martin was about 10 feet from Berrier, the suspect removed the gun from his waistband and pointed it toward the ground. The officer then drew his pistol from its holster and is believed to have fired about four or five times, according to the report. Investigators later collected four bullet casings from the scene that were determined to have been fired from Martin's gun.
The officer said he recalls being "shocked" when he saw Berrier's weapon and believed he was going to be shot by him. Martin told investigators that he ordered Berrier to stop and that the suspect said something like "I won't" or "I don't" as the officer fired his gun
According to the report, the officer in the helicopter told investigators that Berrier grabbed a "black item from his waistband, jumped twice and fell to the ground."
Based on Berrier's movements and the fact that he had drawn a gun, the district attorney's office determined that Martin was reasonable in using lethal force in self defense.
Emergency workers attempted to stabilize Berrier, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. A doctor from the county's coroner's office determined that the suspect died from a single gunshot wound to the head, according to the report.
The toxicology report stated that Berrier had traces of cocaine, opiates and amphetamine in his blood.
The firearm carried by Berrier was revealed to be a replica semiautomatic pistol that fired BBs. The item was found next to the suspect with the safety on and four BBs in the magazine.
The female suspect was later found jumping fences between apartment complexes around Milo Drive and Lynn Lane. She was detained by police and subsequently identified as the mother of Berrier's son.
Prosecutors stated in the report that the two had been involved in "multiple, prior domestic disputes." The woman told police that she and Berrier were fighting that afternoon and claimed that he showed her the BB gun. He also made a statement about committing "suicide by cop," according to the report.