No charges against officer in deadly shooting of man who killed hostage

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SAN JOSE (BCN)—Charges won’t be filed against a police officer for fatally shooting a man who killed a hostage last year in South San Jose, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

A 38-page report from the office released today indicated Sgt. Justin Moro was lawful in firing a weapon at 45-year-old Leonel Acevedo on Nov. 9, 2015, prosecutors said.

“There is no question that the situation Acevedo created carried such an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to Sergeant Moro’s fellow officers and the only reasonable action available to him was to fire his weapon at Acevedo,” Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Theresa McLaughlin said in her report.

Moro, a sniper who has worked for 15 years with the Police Department, was one of the officers who responded to a report of weapons and a hostage situation at a home in the 4400 block of Camden Avenue around 2:15 p.m. that day, McLaughlin said.

Acevedo, a former resident of the home, forced his way inside by pretending to sell his car to a resident and then fired multiple shots. He took another woman, 53-year-old Yolanda Najera, as a hostage while the other resident initially contacted was able to escape and call police, McLaughlin said.

Acevedo called Najera’s husband to insult him and challenged him to come to the home, according to McLaughlin.

Acevedo then stepped out of the home and fired at officers, one of whom was injured in the leg and later found a bullet lodged in the heel of his boot. Moro fired back twice with a rifle roughly 60 yards away from the home, but the suspect remained standing and managed to duck for cover, McLaughlin said.

The sergeant released a third shot that struck Acevedo, who officers found with two weapons, one of which was still in his hand that held the trigger, according to McLaughlin.

The suspect also had a bag with 29 bullets in the back pocket of his jeans, McLaughlin said.

After Acevedo was killed, officers found the hostage, Najera, dead from multiple gunshot wounds in a hallway in her home, McLaughlin said.

An autopsy from the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office showed Acevedo was hit in the shoulder, chest and lower back from the three shots Moro had fired, according to McLaughlin.

The suspect’s landlords discovered a note in his bedroom that asked them to call his relatives if he didn’t return home, McLaughlin said.

The district attorney’s office investigates all officer-involved incidents that result in death. Officers can use deadly means of force if they are faced with danger, prosecutors said.

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