Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputy Andrew Hall pleaded not guilty on Wednesday for the on-duty killing of a man in downtown Danville in 2018. Hall's attorneys stated the shooting was done in self-defense, while the family claims that it was unjustified.
Giving the plea at his arraignment in the Contra Costa County Superior Court on Wednesday, Hall has been charged by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office with felony counts of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a semiautomatic weapon in connection with shooting Laudemer Arboleda nine times at close range during a police response in downtown Danville in November 2018 -- this is the first time in county history that the DA's office has filed criminal charges against a police officer for their actions during a shooting.
Hall is currently on paid administrative leave, according to his attorney Harry Stern, who added that he believes the charges are primarily politically motivated and that Hall acted in self-defense.
"I am absolutely confident that this case was brought for political reasons rather than the weighing of evidence because, in fact, when this case was reviewed objectively by a couple of different entities, the use of force was found to be in compliance with policies of law," Stern said after the arraignment.
"He fired in defense of his life, there's absolutely no question about that. That's what this case is going to be all about," he added.
Hall shot Arboleda nine times at close range on Nov. 3, 2018. Video evidence released after the shooting shows that the 33-year-old Newark man was shot while he tried to drive slowly around police vehicles attempting to block his path in downtown Danville.
Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris, who represents Arboleda's family in a civil case against the town of Danville and county Sheriff's Office -- which provides police services to the town by contract -- called the shooting "murder" that was spurred by poor tactics conducted by Officer Hall and the sheriff's department.
"Our view is, at the time the officer fired his gun, he was not in danger," Burris said. "This is an unjustifiable shooting. That's been our position from the very beginning."
"I've always had the view that, looking at these video tapes, it's pretty clear that the officer was in a position of safety and jumped in front (of Arboleda) to make it appear that his life was in danger. You can't create a confrontation and shoot your way out of it," he added.
Family of Arboleda, who say that the Newark man was suffering a mental health crisis at the time of his death, were packed into the courthouse on Wednesday. Arboleda’s mother, Jeannie Atienza, was among them and vowed to continue to fight for her son.
"The only thing I can say is that I am not going to stop seeking justice for Laudemere," Atienza said.
DA officials say that on the day of the shooting officers were responding to a call that a man, later identified as Arboleda, rang the doorbell of a resident at Cottage Place and was lingering in the area before eventually leaving in a 2014 silver Honda.
Hall, who was not involved in the initial pursuit, stopped his vehicle in front of the police pursuit, which DA officials say led Arboleda to attempt to "slowly" maneuver his vehicle around and away from police.
Arboleda was taken to San Ramon Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries at 11:44 a.m. that day.
Hall is currently out on $220,000 bail and, according to Stern, his next preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 20.
Hall is the same Danville police officer who shot and killed Tyrell Wilson at the Sycamore Valley Road-Camino Ramon intersection on March 11. Wilson, a 32-year-old homeless man who family say was mentally impaired with schizophrenia, died at a local hospital days later.
These were the only police shootings of any kind in the town of Danville since 2001.