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4 officers on leave after killing of unarmed man outside Bay Area pot shop

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Four California police officers have been placed on administrative leave after officers shot and killed an unarmed person outside of a Bay Area cannabis dispensary in the early morning hours on Friday, Aug. 18.

The shooting occurred around 3:30 a.m. after officers responded to reports of a break-in at Velvet Cannabis, a retail pot shop in the Contra Costa County town of Martinez, according to the Martinez Police Department. Two cars at the scene attempted to leave, according to police; an altercation ensued, during which four officers fired their weapons, killing one person, police said. It’s not clear how many shots were fired or which officers killed the person.

The California Department of Justice announced it has taken over the investigation of the shooting, as state law requires following any police killing of an unarmed person.

Details surrounding the killing are otherwise sparse. Martinez police Chief Andrew White said in a video released Saturday that one of the two cars at the scene struck an officer, who was treated and released from the hospital. White implied in the video that the person killed by police was driving one of the vehicles.

“The law defines an unarmed civilian as one who is not in possession of a deadly weapon,” White said. “A vehicle, regardless of how it’s used, is not included in this statute’s definition of a deadly weapon. In accordance with Assembly Bill 1506, we notified DOJ and they took the lead as the investigating agency.”

Authorities have not released the names of the deceased person or the officers involved. Velvet Cannabis did not return a request for comment. White said officers were wearing body cameras and he expects the footage to be released within 45 days.

Burglaries at California cannabis stores have escalated significantly in the past three years, with thieves often using vehicles to break into stores and then steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in retail cannabis products.

The Martinez Police Department declined to answer any questions about Friday’s shooting and directed all questions to the state Attorney General’s Office. The Attorney General’s Office also declined to answer any questions regarding the shooting.

The Martinez City Council said in a statement that the city has not had a police shooting “in decades.”

“The Martinez City Council is united in support of all our City police officers and staff, and our hearts go out to everyone in our community who has been impacted by this incident,” the statement said.


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