Police Chief Dan Oates ordered an internal investigation Friday into a botched undercover operation last week that resulted in an officer shooting and killing an extortion suspect.
“This event has triggered a number of questions both within the department and the community,” Oates said in a statement. “We need to take a thorough look at the decisions we made that evening and the tactics we employed. We need to determine whether we can learn from this event.”
Oates stressed that the investigation will not look at whether the officer, whose name has not been released, acted appropriately when he shot 59-year-old Juan Contreras last Saturday. Contreras had a knife when he was shot and the decision about the officer’s use of force is a matter for the district attorney, Oates said.
Instead, a Tactical Review Board will look at the department’s decision to use an undercover team to arrest Contreras, who police say was trying to extort $50 from an elderly woman after he found her car keys.
“The TRB is about policy, training, process and decision making. It is about what led up to the moment of that confrontation,” Oates said. “Could we have done this better? We have an obligation to be the best we can be as a police department, and if we can learn from what occurred here and thereby avoid a deadly confrontation in the future, that will be a positive outcome.”
Police said Monday that officers, with the approval of a lieutenant and a sergeant, quickly planned an undercover operation to arrest Contreras after he called an elderly woman and told her he had her car keys and would give them back for $50.