“California Department of Justice Criminalists are experts at what they do, from processing crime scenes to examining evidence to assist in investigations. Californians and law enforcement officers alike are fortunate to have their expertise and we than them for their service.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
GRIDLEY – On January 2, 2023, Baltazar Rubio, 43, of Gridley was shot and killed by Gridley police officers. According to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, the Butte County Officer-Involved Shooting Protocol Team worked through the night gathering witness statements, forensic evidence, surveillance tapes and the officers’ body cameras.
According to Ramsey, evidence gathered thus far shows the officers were dispatched at 2:17 p.m. to a family disturbance in the 200 block of Kentucky Street, where two family members of Rubio reported that he assaulted them with a pair of scissors. The family members gave a description of Rubio and officers left to search for him after calling for medical aid for the family.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, as officers were searching for Rubio, another call came in from a family friend of Rubio in the 300 block of Ohio Street at 2:24 p.m. stating that Rubio had broken into their residence and stolen a semi-automatic pistol and left on foot. The search for Rubio continued. As officers believed they got a glimpse of Rubio in an alleyway that runs between and parallel to Ohio and Kentucky Streets. Sgt. Smith and Officer Maulden were slowly driving and searching that alley in their SUV patrol vehicle when they were suddenly surprised by Rubio coming up from behind them on foot and banging on the rear of their vehicle with a handgun. The officers drove north out of the alley and then looped back into the same alley from Sycamore Street traveling south and looking for Rubio. At this same time, Officer Lara, also searching in the area, started into the alley from Magnolia Street at approximately 2:30 p.m. Officer Lara, as confirmed by his body camera, saw Rubio walking south in the alley and yelled at him to drop a handgun that was seen in his hand. The officer said Rubio at first did drop the weapon and began to get on the ground, but quickly retrieved the gun and pointed it at the officer. Officer Lara discharged his sidearm at Rubio. At the same time, Sgt. Smith and Officer Mauldin came into the alley from the opposite direction and saw Rubio with the gun in his hand pointing it at Officer Lara and then at them. They got out of their vehicle and began shooting toward Rubio. Their actions were captured on each of their body cameras.
District Attorney Ramsey said the initial crime scene investigation by the California Department of Justice criminalistic team that is part of the local Protocol Team confirmed the officers shot a total of 31 shots. The pistol seen held by Rubio and captured on their body cameras was recovered by the criminalists at the scene. It appeared empty and not to have been fired.
District Attorney Ramsey explained that the Butte County Officer-Involved Shooting Protocol Team consists of experienced investigators from local and state agencies to give a full, fair and independent investigation of local officer-involved shootings.
Gridley Police Chief Rodney Harr expressed sympathy for the family and friends of Rubio. Chief Harr noted the officers, per standard procedure, are on administrative leave pending the investigation.
District Attorney Ramsey said the investigation continues with further witness interviews and forensic evidence to be examined. An autopsy of Rubio is scheduled with the Sacramento County Coroner next week.