Officer-Involved Shooting of Adelanto Man “Excessive and Unreasonable”, Jury Awards Over $100,000

RIVERSIDE – Although the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office found the officer-involved shooting of an Adelanto man justified in 2015, a jury awarded Kevion Young $110,000 plus undisclosed punitive damages on Thursday.

The non-fatal officer-involved shooting occurred on January 29, 2014, when undercover deputies were looking for the murder suspect, Robert Pope. Pope was wanted for the murder of Ernie Sanders and the attempted murder of Summer Mattes that occurred the previous day. The deputies, who were driving unmarked vehicles and were dressed in plain clothing began watching a home located in the 11600 block of La Paz Street at around 9:00 p.m that night.

After watching for a short time deputies noticed a male acting suspiciously, that man was later identified as Young. Authorities said they witnessed Young sneaking through yards with a cloth-wrapped object in his hand. Young then, according to authorities, appeared to place the object in his waistband. Deputies observed Young walking through yards to a home where people were inside the garage. Deputies concerned with possible retaliation for the murder of Sanders decided to make contact with Young. Believing Young may have been armed, they approached him from behind while identifying themselves yelling “Sheriff’s Department”.  

According to the 2015 District Attorney’s press release, shots were then fired by two deputies causing several bullets to hit the leg and pelvis area of then, 18-year-old Young. Young was airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Hospital for the treatment of the injuries sustained as a result of the shooting. A thorough investigation took place following the shooting and two large fixed-blade knives were located. The knives were identified by the woman who lived at the home as being from her kitchen, but she could not explain to deputies how they got outside of her home.  She also explained that she did know Young, but she did not recall him being at her home that day.

Detectives made contact with Young at the hospital and he said he was walking to visit with his friends who lived in the area. He told authorities that he was high from smoking marijuana at the time so his memory was not totally clear, but he witnessed a black car occupied by several black men. Young feared being shot, so he ran into the house and grabbed the two knives and left out the back door. In a recorded statement, he told authorities that he jumped the fence into a nearby yard, hid behind an RV to listen to see if the vehicle was gone. He suddenly heard running behind him and feared that it was the occupants of the vehicle until he heard them identify themselves as Sheriffs. He said that he was shot as he was attempting to comply with deputy demands by getting on the ground and disarming himself of the knives.

Young was charged with resisting an executive officer and one count of possession of a concealed dirk or dagger on February 3, 2014. Months later, on June 23, 2014, Young pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal to possession of a concealed dirk or dagger and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing a peace officer. He was sentenced to 292 days in jail and 3-years formal probation.

On Thursday, December 8, 2016, a jury after deliberating for two days came back with a verdict finding the shooting by deputies, Nicholas Tollefson and Justin Musella “excessive and unreasonable”. Pope was arrested and was charged with the Apple Valley shooting that killed  Sanders and injured Mattes and is awaiting trial.

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