Prosecutors have determined that a Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy responded lawfully to a deadly threat when he shot Armando Osuna, who had hit another deputy with a metal pipe during a confrontation earlier this year in Riverbank.
Stanislaus County sheriff’s officials have said Osuna became combative and struck Deputy Randon Kirkbride’s right hand with the metal pipe. Then, Deputy Brandon Silva fired his gun, hitting Osuna in the upper torso. Osuna, 51, was taken by ambulance to local hospital, where he died several hours later.
“The use of force by Deputy Silva was measured and in direct response to the threat he perceived after Osuna had struck Deputy Kirkbride with the metal pipe. In other words — it was reasonable,” according to a letter the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office sent to Sheriff Adam Christianson on Monday.
The District Attorney’s Office released the letter publicly Wednesday morning attached to a news release.
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Nancy Osuna, who was not at the Burneyville Road home that day, has told The Modesto Bee that violence was not in her husband’s nature. She also said she believes the deputies could have used a Taser or other nonlethal means to subdue her husband.
The deadly confrontation occurred May 29 at a home in the 7000 block of Burneyville, just south of the Stanislaus River near Jacob Meyers Park in Riverbank.
About 10:50 a.m. that day, the deputies were called to the home to a report of a dispute between Osuna and a former landlord. Prosecutors said that the landlord told sheriff’s officials that Osuna had been evicted from the home several weeks earlier.
Osuna’s wife has told The Bee that her husband was at the home that day to pick up furniture. She has said their former landlord had told them that he’d call authorities if they set foot on the property, but the landlord’s wife told the Osunas the furniture would be put curbside.
The landlord told sheriff’s officials that Osuna wasn’t supposed to be on the property, but he had returned, an argument ensued and Osuna had thrown a metal chain and lock at the landlord, according to prosecutors. The landlord was not struck.
The deputies responding to the reported assault arrived at the home and learned Osuna was in a detached garage in the back of the property. Prosecutors said Silva asked Osuna to come out, and he did, holding a metal pipe in each hand.
The deputies ordered Osuna to drop the pipes and get on the ground. Prosecutors wrote in the letter Osuna refused and swung the pipes in a “stabbing motion.”
Silva used a Taser to subdue Osuna, but it had no effect on Osuna, who continued to swing the pipes, according to prosecutors. Kirkbride told investigators that he wasn’t certain the Taser probes made contact.
Krikbride then used pepper spray, hitting Osuna in the face, but that also had little effect on Osuna. Prosecutors said Osuna held the pipes near his chest. Kirkbride used the pepper spray again, but it still had no effect on Osuna.
Then, Silva brandished his gun, and Osuna retreated into the garage. Silva peeked into the garage and spotted Osuna splashing water on his face. Prosecutors said Osuna came out of the garage again holding both pipes, continuing to swing them.
Osuna continued to refuse repeated demands to drop the pipes, before he advanced toward the deputies, according to prosecutors. Kirkbride used pepper spray a third time, and Osuna hit the deputy’s hand with one of the pipes.
Prosecutors said Silva fired two bullets at Osuna, who turned and fell to the ground. Then, Kirkbride tried to gain control of Osuna, who moved away and stumbled into the garage. The deputies were not able to handcuff Osuna until other deputies arrived.
“It is undisputed that Osuna was using a metal pipe (a deadly weapon) to attack Kirkbride, and therefore Deputy Silva was also allowed to resort to deadly force under the law,” prosecutors wrote in the letter.
Osuna continued to be combative with medics trying to treat him at the scene and in the ambulance, according to prosecutors. He also struggled with hospital staff until he could be sedated. Prosecutors said an autopsy indicated that Osuna had a potentially toxic level of methamphetamine in his system.