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Linn: June 5 shooting by cop justifiable

The shooting by a Madera policeman of a man who slashed his own throat and aimed a handgun at law officers was “justifiable,” the Madera County District Attorney’s Office announced today.

The office reviewed all related evidence and extensively consulted with Sheriff Jay Varney, said District Attorney David A. Linn. It deemed the shooting on June 5 to be in defense of self, fellow officers, and potentially the public, who may have become involved.

The office will take no further action on the officer-involved shooting, Linn said, but is prosecuting its injured victim, Saul Santana.

Santana has been charged with attempted murder of a peace officer, a felon in possession of a firearm, and a felon in possession of ammunition, as well as a prior offense for car-jacking.

Santana was charged and arraigned in Madera County Superior Court on June 12. His background includes an eight-year prison sentence in 2002 following his conviction for a Northern California car jacking with a handgun, as well as miscellaneous drug charges.

The incident began when Madera police responded to a call June 5 about someone driving a truck through Madera with a knife to his neck. Police followed the truck, Madera Police Chief Steve Frazier said, and spotted a handgun in the suspect’s hand, rather than a blade.

The suspect stopped, exited his truck, and pointed a Smith & Wesson 9 mm at police. In response, an unnamed officer fired five rounds, hitting him once in the left shoulder. While performed first aid on the suspect, police discovered a deep, seemingly self-inflicted cut to his throat before he was taken to a Fresno hospital for surgery.

The officer-involved shooting of Santana would be the first of two this month. A cop shot and killed Sergio M. Valdovinos Jr., 32, on June 16 after he brandished a long wooden handle repeatedly at police. The nearest officer fired eight rounds, several of which hit Valdovinos, who died on the way to the hospital.

His mother said her son suffered from schizophrenia and that excessive force had been used against him.

Valdovinos reportedly had an arrest record that included assault, assault and battery with serious bodily harm, attempted rape, rape, burglary and multiple attempts to terrorize.

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