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Police used reasonable force in fatal case of man wielding golf club, DA says

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig at a press conference on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. His office determined this week that it will not file charges against the Woodland police officers involved in the February death of Michael Anthony Barrera.
Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig at a press conference on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. His office determined this week that it will not file charges against the Woodland police officers involved in the February death of Michael Anthony Barrera. rbenton@sacbee.com

The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office will not file charges against the Woodland police officers involved in the February death of Michael Anthony Barrera.

In a report completed this week on the circumstances leading to the 30-year-old’s death, prosecutors found that officers “used reasonable and necessary force during the detention and arrest of Michael Barrera.”

Barrera died after officers responded to calls that he had exposed himself and otherwise acted erratically with a golf club and other potential weapons. Barrera, who had methamphetamine in his system, died at the hospital following a struggle with officers who used a stun gun on him.

Barrera did not surrender when police approached him and asked him to put down the golf club, according to the report. He said that a “golf club is not a deadly weapon and told the officers to put their gun and Tasers down.”

Barrera tried to get away but crashed into a fence and eventually was involved in a scuffle with officers. He vomited and became unconscious during the struggle and was later pronounced dead at the hospital, according to the report.

Attorney Stewart Katz, who is representing Barrera’s family, said he’s not surprised prosecutors decided not to file charges, but said he disagrees with the report’s finding of “reasonable and necessary force.”

He said the report fails to answer key questions needed to reach that conclusion, such as how long the Taser stun gun was used on him and how many officers were on top of him.

Jonathan Raven of the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office responded by pointing to a section of the report that states, “No consideration is given to civil liabilities, tactics, departmental policies or procedures. This review addresses only whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support the filing of any criminal charges in connection with the death of Michael Barrera.”

The Yolo County Coroner’s Office said Barrera’s cause of death was “methamphetamine intoxication during restraint by law enforcement.”

Marissa Barrera, Michael’s sister, said the report raised concerns about the number of times Barrera was shocked during the incident.

The district attorney’s review said one of the officers deployed his stun gun three times on Barrera, though a test of the weapon recorded four “trigger events” between 1:31 p.m. and 1:32 p.m.

“They tasered him four times in one minute,” she said. “It’s really disturbing.”

Katz said he plans to continue with the case. He has filed a claim against the county, a precursor to a lawsuit, as well as one against the city. He said the district attorney’s review shows there is plenty of evidence to review, including video of the incident and interviews with witnesses.

Taser training is an annual requirement for deputies and correctional officers at the Placer County Sheriff's Office. The X26 Taser gun is a less-lethal force option for officers, and is used to incapacitate an individual. Seen in this video is De

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