Seven Million Dollar Settlement against CHP Officers in the 2020 Shooting Death of Unarmed Erik Salgado

Civil Rights Attorney John Burris

Special to the Vanguard

Oakland, CA-The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has agreed to a $ 7 million dollar settlement for the family of Erik Salgado, including his daughter and mother and Brianna Colombo, then-girlfriend and also a shooting victim.

On June 2, 2020, Erik Salgado and Brianna Colombo were traveling in a red Dodge Charger that had been stolen from a San Leandro car dealership several weeks before.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., Erik and Brianna parked the car in the vicinity of 94th and Cherry, which was near Erik’s mother’s house. As they were about to leave, going south, an unmarked police car slowly approached them from the front going north, and at the same time, one or more police cars were approaching them from behind, going south.

Erik tried to pass the car in front but slightly bumped it. He immediately backed up and hit the car behind, and as he attempted to straighten up an unnamed officer standing outside of his car, but in front of Erik’s car, without warning, fired his gun into the front window of  Erik’s car, immediately striking and perhaps killing him.

Within moments, two other unnamed officers were also standing outside of their cars but on the passenger and driver sides of  Erik’s car, with each unleashing a barrage of gunfire, shooting as many as 40 times into the car. Erik was hit over 18 times and Brianna 3 times.

Other than yelling to turn the engine off, no other efforts were made to communicate with Erik and Brianna before the shooting. The officers gave no explicit warning they would shoot. Neither Erik nor Brianna were armed, nor did they attempt to use the car to harm anyone.

Civil Rights attorney John Burris stated, “The officers fired their guns as if Salgado was a ‘shooting gallery target.’  ‘The officers’ conduct was inhumane and a reckless disregard for human life for which they should be criminally prosecuted. We will be submitting this case to Pamela Price, the Alameda County District Office Attorney, for criminal prosecution.”

Burris goes on to say, “The officers’ conduct was atrocious, callous, and a wanton, reckless disregard for the lives of Erik, Brianna, and the residential community.  The officers knew nothing about Erik or Brianna, didn’t know if they stole the car, or even if they knew it was stolen.” Witnesses from the community had said that the officers were all out of their cars and in positions of safety when they fired their weapons.

Burris further states, “The number of shots fired by the officers was enough to kill a militia of terrorists.  It was a massacre! Complete overkill for the potential crime.  These officers’ use of high-powered assault weapons demonstrates a total lack of regard for  Erik and Brianna’s lives and for the lives of  neighborhood residents, composed of  largely working-class Latinos.”

According to Burris, “The 40 plus shots, some fired from an assault weapon, against unarmed people was murderous; I will ask that the Alameda District Attorney Pamala Price to reopen the investigation into these officers for murder and assault with deadly weapons.”

Ben Nisenbaum of Burris Nisenbaum Curry & Lacy (BNCL) states, “This is particularly egregious because the Sergeant at the scene, Richard Henderson, directed the shooting by the two other Defendants in the case, Officer Hulbert and Officer Saputa, by yelling to ‘shoot him!’, even though there was no one in the path of the vehicle driven by Mr. Salgado. Sgt. Henderson then emptied the 30-round clip of his AR-15 style rifle.”

Nisenbaum notes,  “The CHP policy limits the round capacity of rifle magazines to 20 rounds.  “Emptying the rifle clip of all 30 rounds and ordering two other officers to shoot against a car that is stuck between two stopped vehicles speaks to an overreaction and panic by the supervisor at the scene, Sgt. Henderson, as well as the other two shooting officers, Hulbert and Saputa, even if they were just following their Sergeant’s orders.”

This was the second time since 2016 that Sgt. Henderson had been involved in this kind of shooting, having shot and killed Pedro Villanueva after Mr. Villanueva and a passenger fled in a truck from a sideshow in Fullerton, CA.  In that case, just as in this case, Sgt. Henderson claimed that he shot into the truck to stop the truck from striking a fellow officer who he claimed was in the path of the truck. However, just as in this case, no one was in the path of the truck when Sgt. Henderson and the other officer fired on it.  “It defies rational belief that the same officer made the same mistake twice, killing two different people because he saw something that didn’t happen either time,” Nisenbaum said.

Co-counsel James Chanin, who has been litigating wrongful death cases against police agencies since 1979, said, “This was one of most outrageous officer-involved shooting cases I have ever seen in my 44 years of practicing law. All of the CHP officers involved refused to cooperate with the Oakland Police Department investigation at the scene and left in a car together, thereby violating the most basic rule that officers at an officer-involved shooting should be segregated until they give a full statement to the investigating agency. (The incident occurred in Oakland, and therefore, the case was to be investigated by the Oakland Police Department).”

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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