Judges Rules Self-Defense In September 2021 Shooting

On October 11, 2022, a Butte County, California Judge ruled that a September 2021 shooting by a juvenile was self-defense.  There were 3 days of testimony involving 15 witnesses as well as surveillance video related to the case.  The Judge ruled that the Prosecutor did not meet the threshold to override a claim of self-defense.  Under California law, the burden is on the Prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense.

On September 4th, 2021, a group of juveniles met to have a party along some bike trails east of Teichert Ponds in Chico, California.  Sometime around 2:30 AM, the defendant and 3 other juveniles left the party and walked along a bike trail on their way home.  They encountered a homeless camp, and an argument ensued.  At some point, someone in the homeless camp produced a handgun and 8 rounds were fired between the two groups.  Two of the homeless campers were shot; one fatally and the other suffered lower extremity wounds. 

The teens were later seen on surveillance video running from the area.  This video led to the suspect being arrested 13 days after the shooting.

The Prosecutor alleged that the 4 teens were out looking for trouble and that they instigated the gunfight by shining a green laser sight on people in the camp, while the defense argued that the teens were attacked. Inconsistent testimony among the witnesses was cited by the Judge in his ruling as well.

While the Judge dismissed the charges on the basis of self-defense, the juvenile was found guilty of violating probation by going to the party and drinking alcohol underage.

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