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Richmond police will not face charges in shooting death of Kevin McDonald

on May 22, 2024

Nearly a year after Richmond police shot and killed Kevin James McDonald while serving a search warrant on a home in Point Richmond, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton has ruled the use of force “lawful and justified.” 

No charges will be filed against Sgt. Alex Caine and Detective Robert Branch, who fired several shots at McDonald, 66, as he pointed an assault rifle at them in a bedroom, according to the district attorney’s report released Friday. Becton concluded that the officers fired “in self-defense and to protect others.”

McDonald’s family could not be reached for comment. 

Police recovered 47 assault style rifles, hundreds of rounds of live ammunition, and a live grenade at the residence.

According to the 42-page report, the search occurred on June 28, hours after police had arrested another resident of the home for an alleged firearms offense. That resident is not identified in the report. Police knew that McDonald and his mother also lived in the house and would likely be home when they arrived.

Armed with a search warrant, more than 10 Richmond police officers entered the home through a garage door after banging on the front door of the residence around 9 a.m. McDonald was not the target of the warrant. He also did not have any criminal history of violence or illegal possession of firearms, according to the report. 

In the living room, officers encountered McDonald’s mother, described as “elderly” and “disoriented.” They proceeded to the second floor and after searching multiple rooms, approached a closed bedroom door at the end of the hallway around 9:15 a.m. “Don’t come in here,” McDonald yelled from behind the door. Four officers were on the other side. 

“Richmond Police Department,” Branch yelled, opening the door. “Show Me Your Hands,” he demanded twice, according to the report. Caine then yelled “Gun” several times as both officers fired. Two other officers were with Caine and Branch but did not fire. The coroner’s report said McDonald had three gunshot wounds to his head and three gunshot or shrapnel injuries on his left calf. 

In interviews after the shooting, Caine and Branch said they had no time to de-escalate this situation. The report said Caine was not wearing his body camera.

According to Richmond Police Department policy, all officers are required to turn on body-worn cameras as soon as they set out on a call for service or initiate a police action. Caine told the district attorney’s office that he had forgotten to transfer his camera when he put on a tactical vest. 

Footage from Branch’s body cam was partially blocked by his hands and rifle. 

Richmond Confidential has made a public record request for all body cam footage from the incident. 

During a coroner’s inquest in February, a jury concluded that McDonald’s death was a suicide. 

Becton’s report did not use that term, but said that “McDonald thrust the officers into a position where they would have to either shoot McDonald or be shot.”

Three months after McDonald’s death, Richmond police Chief Bisa French announced that the Richmond police department would be adding cultural sensitivity training to avoid fatal police shootings. In November, she invited Rick Perez, whose 24-year-old son, Pedie, was killed by Richmond police in 2014, to talk to newly hired officers about how police could have handled the situation differently. 

Still pushing for prosecution, Pedie Perez family helps train Richmond officers to avoid using force

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Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

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