Michael Owens Died In Oxnard Police Shooting After Possible Mental Health Crisis
OXNARD, CALIFORNIA (July 9, 2023) – A 24-year-old man identified as Michael Owens has tragically died in an Oxnard police shooting at a two-story apartment building on Seventh Street.
Ventura County police officials are saying that the incident took place around 12:15 a.m. on Tuesday. Oxnard police officers responded to a call that a person was uncooperative and needed medical attention.
First responders at the scene said that Michael Owens may have been hallucinating. He was barricaded in an upstairs room which was later identified as a communal bathroom.
There are reports that he may have been cutting his left wrist with a knife. An officer claims that he was approached by a man holding a knife.
Michael Owens was then shot at as many as seven times. He can then be heard screaming out in pain. Not long after that interaction, the officer fired two additional shots.
Paramedics were called to the scene in order to help the victim. He was taken in an ambulance to the Ventura County Medical Center where he died two days later.
The Oxnard police shooting is currently being reviewed by the Department of Justice as required under California assembly Bill No. 1506. Review under the provision is required for all fatal shootings of an unarmed civilian by law enforcement.
Liability For Oxnard Police Shootings
California leads the nation in fatal police shootings each year. A large number of these shootings involve suspects who are in the midst of a mental health crisis. According to one report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, people with an untreated mental illness were more than 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than the general population. This highlights the need for people to have access to mental health care. It also shows how important it is for officers to follow protocol for dealing with mentally ill suspects. There are a number of steps that police departments should take in order to reduce shootings with mentally ill suspects.
- Officers should be trained to identify when someone is suffering from a mental health condition.
- Officers should be trained to understand when someone is having a mental health crisis due to drugs or alcohol.
- Police officers should be required to have their body cameras on when they interact with the public.
- Police departments should be transparent about their policies for dealing with mentally ill suspects.
The ability to use lethal force is one of the most serious powers that police officers have. This power must be used only as a measure of last resort. According to California Penal Code 835(a), “the authority to use physical force, conferred on peace officers by this section, is a serious responsibility that shall be exercised judiciously and with respect for human rights and dignity and for the sanctity of every human life.” No officer is permitted to use excessive force on suspects. As set forth in California Assembly Bill No. 392, whether or not an officers use of force was reasonable will depend on the “totality of the circumstances” leading up to a deadly encounter.
There are protocols and procedures that California police officers must follow with regard to mentally ill suspects. These policies are designed to de-escalate potentially dangerous encounters. California’s Peace Officer Standards and Training requires officers dealing with mentally ill suspects to (1) request backup, (2) calm the situation, (3) avoid physical contact, (4) determine if the suspect takes medication, (5) acknowledge the suspect’s feelings and (6) not make any threats. When police officers don’t follow these rules, it puts everyone at risk. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any police shooting.
- The body camera footage from all officer’s involved should be reviewed.
- Surveillance footage should be sought.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- Medical records should be reviewed.
- An experienced civil rights advocate should be contacted.
Police shootings can often be prevented when police officers are well trained. But far too often, very inexperienced officers are put into these dangerous encounters and simply don’t know what to do. As a consequence, they are more likely to resort to using lethal force. The family of any person that died in an Oxnard police shooting may have legal recourse through a civil claim. Sadly, though, police departments will often do everything in their power to deny responsibility after a fatal encounter.
Investigating Oxnard Police Shootings
We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Michael Owens. This was a tragedy that should not have taken place. This young man called first responders because he needed help. Instead, he was met with lethal force by Oxnard police officers. There needs to be a thorough review of what happened for the sake of his family and all who have lost so much.
Do you need more information about an Oxnard police shooting? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We focus entirely on helping people and families who have been harmed by police abuses. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any use of force encounter we are here to support you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.