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Published on June 22, 2024
California DOJ Concludes Officer-Involved Fatality in Hemet, No Charges Warranted in Joseph Tracy CaseSource: Google Street View

The California Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Rob Bonta, released its report on Thursday on the officer-involved shooting of Joseph Thomas Tracy IV in Hemet, detailing the events of January 18, 2022, which resulted in Tracy’s death at the hands of law enforcement, as mandated by Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506), aimed at increasing police accountability.

According to the official report, on the day of the incident, the Gang Impact Team of the Riverside County District Attorney's Office was monitoring Tracy at a Hemet hotel under suspicion of his involvement in fentanyl sales and his association with an underage female, authorities also believed Tracy was armed with a P80 handgun and high-capacity magazine, but Tracy, after evading an attempt by police to coax him out of his hotel room and initiating a chase, dropped the gun before being shot by police, who were nevertheless unaware of his action.

"Loss of life is always a tragedy," stated Attorney General Bonta, acknowledging the complexity of the situation that involves the bereaved family, the involved officers, and the public sphere, and reiterating the department's dedication to collaborating with various law enforcement agencies to ensure that California’s system of criminal justice is unbiased, transparent, and holds officers to account.

The investigation, under AB 1506 that necessitates DOJ intervention in officer-involved shootings of unarmed civilians in the state, concluded after careful examination of the evidence, and it was determined that criminal charges would not be justified because the evidence does not confirm beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer's decision to shoot did not stem from a genuine belief in an imminent lethal threat, even though in hindsight, Tracy was unarmed at the actual moment he was shot; this conclusion draws to an end the Department of Justice’s involvement in the Tracy case.

For those seeking to read the full DOJ report on the officer-inviral shooting, it is publicly available and can be accessed through the California Attorney General's office website.