Rookie Santa Cruz Police Officer Who Shot, Killed Mentally Ill Man Will Not Faces Charges

The rookie Santa Cruz police officer who shot and killed a mentally ill man charging at police with a rake last fall will not face criminal charges, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office announced on Thursday.

Officer Erik Bailey shot and killed 32-year-old Sean Arlt on Oct. 16 after a six-minute police confrontation in which Arlt ignored 11 police commands to drop a 5-foot rake he was holding over his head as he moved toward Sgt. William Clayton and officers Bailey, Adam Baker and Denise Cockrum.

At a news conference on Thursday, Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel and deputy chiefs Dan Flippo and Rick Martinez played 911 phone calls, audio and video recordings, and a birds-eye view animation of the incident.

Bailey, a Marine veteran who Flippo said was never deployed to a combat zone, is a second-generation Santa Cruz police officer with less than two years of experience.

When asked why such a new officer was selected to wield lethal force when Clayton, who was hired by the department in 2004, was limited to using a Taser stun gun, Flippo said it was a snap decision.

"In this situation, there wasn't that length of planning time," Flippo said at the conference.

Bailey had received 138 hours of in-service training since his appointment to the department in May 2015, Martinez said.

"Our department provides probably the most in-service training out of any agency in the county, if not Northern California," Martinez said at the conference.

The Peace Officers Standards and Training sets a minimum standard of 24 hours of in-service training per officer per year. Each Santa Cruz police officer receives over 80 hours annually, Martinez said.

In the year before the incident, all four of the officers had received an updated training on mental health issues, including mental health holds and accessing mental health services in the county.

The four had also received 12 hours of training on mental health decision-making and tactical communications training for mental health crisis situations, Martinez said.

Santa Cruz police place over 350 people on forced 72-hour mental health holds every year in their 16-bed facility.

After the police department finishes its internal review of the incident, Martinez will determine whether the officers involved acted appropriately and make tactical recommendations for the future.

Vogel will then review the results and send it to an independent police auditor, who will then send it to the city's public safety committee.

The police department is set to start testing body-worn cameras in mid- to late March, and will be reviewing policy on the cameras with community groups including the ACLU and NAACP.

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