MARTINEZ (CBS SF/AP) — A mistrial was declared in the manslaughter trial of Andrew Hall, a Danville police officer and Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy accused in the 2018 shooting death of Laudemer Arboleda.
The mistrial came after jurors could not come to a verdict on the involuntary manslaughter charge; however, the jury found Hall guilty of assault with a firearm.
Prosecutors had argued Hall used “excessive, unreasonable and unnecessary” force when he shot Arboleda nine times as he drove away from police during a slow-speed chase. Hall’s lawyers said the officer feared for his safety and asked the jury to sympathize with the officer’s need to make split-second decisions.
Police had repeatedly tried to pull Arboleda over, after residents called police reporting a suspicious person knocking on doors. The incident ended at the intersection of Diablo Road and Front Street, with two police units behind Arboleda’s gray Honda Civic, and two in front, including Hall’s.
Arboleda was trying to pull between two police cars when Hall opened fire on the front driver’s side of Arboleda’s car.
“This is an historic moment,” said Arboleda family attorney Adante Pointer outside the courtroom Tuesday afternoon. “It is rare in this community that an officer is held accountable. We thank the jury for reaching the decision and providing a sense of justice now we just want the entire slice.”
“There’s an understanding that there is no one in the community who is above the law, and when you break the law we take that seriously,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton, outside the courtroom following the verdict.
Prosecutors can retry the case, and Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Terri Mockler set a Jan. 14 conference date on a possible re-trial.
In a statement following the verdict, Becton said, “Deputy Hall’s actions were not only a crime, but they tarnished the badge and they harmed the reputation of all the good, hard working police officers that work for our community. My Office extends our condolences to the family of Mr. Arboleda. With regards to the voluntary manslaughter count, we will take the matter under review to determine the appropriate next steps.”
The advocacy group Conscious Contra Costa issued a statement following the verdict, which said in part, “Today we witnessed an historic ruling in support of police accountability in our county. A jury convicted Deputy Andrew Hall on one count of assault with a firearm, partially delivering long-awaited justice to Laudemer Arboleda, his grieving family, and the Danville community. Conscious Contra Costa is glad to see Andrew Hall be held partially accountable in this case of the unjustified and egregious killing of Laudemer Arboleda. Thank you to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton for having the fortitude to bring charges against Deputy Hall in the case adjudicated today, and to the ADAs for their vigorous prosecution. While this welcome and historic verdict will not return Laudemer Arboleda to his family, we hope that it will help bring them some peace of mind.”
“Obviously this is a really sad day for Andrew Hall. In my opinion, hopefully goes without saying, this was unwarranted,” said Hall’s attorney Harry Stern outside the courtroom Tuesday. “I am gratified in some sense that seven jurors believed he was not guilty on the top charge of manslaughter.”
“Although I wish the jury had returned a not-guilty verdict on all counts, I respect their service. We ask our officers to make split-second decisions and many of the jurors understood that,” said Sheriff David Livingston said in a statement. “I urge DA Becton not to retry this case. I also urge her to take down the posts on her reelection campaign social media where she touts this prosecution.”
Statement on the Andrew Hall Trial
Although I wish the jury had returned a not-guilty verdict on all counts, I respect their service. We ask our officers to make split-second decisions and many of the jurors understood that.
— Contra Costa Sheriff (@CoCoSheriff) October 27, 2021
Danville contracts for police services through the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department. A sheriff’s investigation after the 2018 incident cleared Hall of any wrongdoing.
But the district attorney’s office announced it was pressing charges in the 2018 case after Hall was involved in a second shooting earlier this year.
In a series of rulings last month, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Terri Mockler ruled that video and other evidence from the second fatal police shooting would not be admitted at the Arboleda trial.
On March 11, Hall responded to reports of a man throwing rocks onto Interstate Highway 680 from the Sycamore Valley Road overpass. Law enforcement officials have said 32-year-old transient Tyrell Wilson approached Hall near the overpass with a folding knife and Hall shot him in self-defense. The shooting is still being investigated. The families of the deceased in both incidents said the men suffered from mental health issues.
Hall, who pleaded not guilty in June, is currently on paid administrative leave.