Shooting declared justified

District attorney says officers who killed Steven Vest were justified

A video screenshot of Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey displaying a knife during a press conference on Jan. 14, 2021, where the officer-involved-shooting of Steven Vest was declared justified.

Chico Police officers were justified in the Oct. 14 shooting of Steven Vest in the parking lot of Chico’s Petco store, according to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

Ramsey released that declaration—and the findings of a multi-agency Butte County Officer Involved Shooting/Critical Incident Protocol Team—this morning (Jan. 14). A press conference detailing the events of the night Vest, 30, was shot dead by Sgt. Nicholas Bauer and Officer Tyler Johnson was broadcast live to social media.

Ramsey’s findings were presented as a 26-page document addressed to Chico Police Department Chief Matt Madden. Part of the executive summary of the document reads, “The investigation was wide-ranging and included interviews with civilian witnesses in the area and with the involved officers; the CPD dispatch tapes of the incident; forensic analysis of the crime scene; forensic analysis of the various body cameras; and the autopsy and toxicology results, which showed an extremely high level of methamphetamine in Vest’s blood at the time of his death. Based on that review and the controlling law involving officer-involved shootings, I find no criminal liability for the officers involved based on the finding that their actions were justified.”

The investigation summary and other media related to the shooting—including graphic body-cam footage showing the moment of Vest’s death—will be made available on the District Attorney’s Website at buttecounty.net/districtattorney/

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