Fullerton Police Department Involved In Deadly Officer Involved Shooting That Killed Austin Heiselman

FULLERTON, CALIFORNIA (September 5, 2023) – A man identified as Austin Heiselman has tragically died in a La Habra police shooting after a vehicle pursuit and car accident.

Orange County officials said that the incident took place around 1:00 a.m. on Friday. Fullerton Police Department officials are saying that they attempted to pull over Austin Heiselman.

He was wanted for an alleged robbery one week ago in Santa Barbara. The suspect did not pull over which initiated a vehicle pursuit. The pursued ended 8 miles away in La Habra.

Austin Heiselman went through a red light and collided with another vehicle. Moments after the crash, he exited the vehicle and ran into a strip mall parking lot.

Officers can be heard yelling “Show us your hands!” moments before they opened fire. Despite life-saving measures, Austin Heiselman later died following the shooting.

Because he was unarmed when he was shot and killed, the shooting is currently being investigated by the California Department of Justice.


Liability For La Habra Police Shootings

Far too many people are killed or seriously injured every year following police encounters. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, “More than four in ten people treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds from a police encounter were diagnosed with a mental health condition, an alcohol- or substance-related disorder, or both.” There are many steps that police officer’s must follow in order to avoid hurting suspects in the midst of a mental health crisis. These policies are laid out in California’s Peace Officer Standards and  Training (“P.O.S.T.”).

  • Officers must request backup.
  • Officers must do their best to calm the situation.
  • Officers should avoid physical contact with the suspect.
  • Officers should seek to determine if the suspect is taking medication.
  • Officers should do their best to acknowledge the suspect’s feelings.
  • Officers should avoid making any threats.

The ability to use lethal force is one of the most consequential powers that police officers have. It must be used with great discretion. When a police officer crosses the line and uses excessive force, they can be held accountable through 42 U.S. Code § 1983. Every person who, under the color of any law, statute or ordinance, causes a citizen of the United States to be deprived of their rights afforded under the constitution, is liable to the injured party in an action at law. There are many steps that should be taken after any police shooting.

  • Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
  • Body camera footage from all officers involved should be examined.
  • The pre-shooting decisions of all officers involved should be reviewed.
  • An experienced civil rights attorney should be contacted.

Police shootings are often highly preventable. They are much more likely to take place with officers that are not particularly well trained. Sadly, police departments will often do everything in their power to deny responsibility for any officer-involved shooting. This is why it is so important that all relevant evidence is preserved. The family of any person that died in a police shooting may have legal recourse through a civil claim.


Investigating La Habra Police Shootings

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Austin Heiselman. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is our sincere hope that there is transparency about what took place.

Do you need more information about a La Habra police shooting? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that victims of excessive force are aware of their rights and that those rights are protected. In fact, we focus exclusively on helping those harmed by police brutality or jail neglect. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at  (949) 825-5200.


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