California officer justified in shooting armed man, DA says

December 20, 2022 GMT

LA HABRA, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors have cleared a Southern California police officer of any criminal wrongdoing in last year’s fatal shooting of a suspect who had shot and wounded another officer outside a police station.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said Monday that La Habra police Officer Abigail Fox acted properly when she shot Matthew-Tuan Anh Tran on Aug. 6, 2021.

The shooting happened outside the La Habra Police Department headquarters after a woman pulled her car into the parking lot to report that Tran, whom she didn’t know, had been tailgating her.

Tran, 22, exited his Toyota Camry and was confronted by Fox and Officer Mark Milward. When Milward asked him if he was following the woman, Tran denied it, Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman wrote in a letter to police Chief Adam Foster.

When Milward turned his back to him, Tran pulled out a gun and aimed it at the officer, Feldman wrote in the letter obtained by the Orange County Register.

Fox shouted and Tran fired two rounds at Milward, the letter said.

“One round pierced Officer Milward’s bulletproof vest, striking him in the right upper chest causing him to fall to the ground. Officer Milward would recover from the gunshot,” Feldman wrote.

Fox fired five shots at Tran, striking him at least once in the head, investigators said.

“Officer Fox did not have time to de-escalate the situation or use less-lethal force because Tran was already firing at Officer Milward,” Feldman wrote. Fox fired in defense of Milward while also fearing for her life and the safety of the public, prosecutors determined.

An autopsy found Tran, of Anaheim, had amphetamine, marijuana and methamphetamine in his system, the Register reported.

La Habra is in Orange County, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.