SANTA MARIA – With the 18-page District Attorney's Report on the Officer Involved Shooting of Officer Albert Covarrubias released to the public, questions from the public are now being asked as to how the situation was handled by the Santa Maria Police Department.
The case, which transpired in the short period between January 26th and the early morning hours of January 28th, has raised eyebrows both locally and nationwide since the very beginning.
"This is far from normal, in my experience in law enforcement, I have never seen a case like this and I don't of any case in the country that was pretty much identical to this," said Santa Maria City Councilman Mike Cordero, who also served for more than 30 years with the Santa Maria Police Department.
The investigation into charges Covarubbias has having an unlawful relationship with a minor unfolded so quickly, it may have led to many of its unusual circumstances.
"There was an element of haste in it and the circumstances began to drive the investigation, rather than the investigation following the evidence," said Dan Payne, a former Special Agent with the FBI.
Payne agreed with the findings in the report that the fatal shooting was justified. However, he's troubled the shooting took place in public, at the intersection of McElhaney Avenue and Broadway.
"The ruse to get the admission on the officer's part, if they'd only apply such ingenuity on the arrest situation too, a ruse to get him in on an unarmed condition," said Payne.
Cordero adds the investigators in the case did not have the benefit of time as the evidence came in and the circumstances changed rapidly.
"You have to understand that when something like this is taking place, your getting updated information by the minute and there's not a lot of time," said Cordero.
Cordero believes the even though the D.A. Report has been released, it's too early to draw conclusions if the Police Department followed proper protocol.
"Trying to make a decision like that with only 18 to 20 pages of an incident that literally has probably has hundreds of pages on part of the investigation is difficult to do at this point," said Macagni.
Interestingly, the report did not mention Chief of Police Danny Macagni at any time. It is not known if Macagni had any knowledge of the Covarrubias investigation prior to the shooting.
"I would suggest to you that the Chief probably had some notification of this. This was one of his officers, so I might suggest he might have, but I really don't know," said Cordero.
The City of Santa Maria has hired an outside firm from Los Angeles County called the "Office of Independent Review" (OIR) which is STILL conducting TWO parallel investigations into the shooting of Officer Covarrubias.
The OIR is investigating the specific actions of the department leading up to and including the shooting Covarrubias.
The OIR is also looking into the operational policies and procedures of the entire Santa Maria Police Department as a whole.
There has been no timetable announced when those investigations will be completed and released to the public.
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