D.A.: No crimes in police shooting

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — The Santa Barbara County district attorney said after another round of investigations that there is no evidence of crimes by Santa Maria police officers related to an officer’s fatal shooting of a fellow officer while trying to arrest him last year in connection with a teenager’s rape allegations.

The Santa Maria Times reported the findings of District Attorney Joyce Dudley on Wednesday, a week after Police Chief Ralph Martin took disciplinary action against nine officers following his own review of the January, 2012 on-duty shooting of Officer Alberto Covarrubias.

It was the second time Dudley had reached similar findings. In June after an initial investigation she said Officer Matt Kline, a five-year veteran, was legally justified in shooting Covarrubias. Kline was one of Covarrubias’ supervisors and had been best man at his wedding.

Dudley examined the evidence again after the police chief’s internal investigation and disciplinary action against the nine officers, but came to the same conclusion.

“Based upon our independent review, we find there is no evidence of underlying criminal violations by any Santa Maria Police Department personnel,” she said in a statement Tuesday.

Martin also said the officers didn’t break laws, but needed to be disciplined for failing to follow police policy. He released no details.

A 17-year-old member of the department’s Police Explorer program had told authorities she was repeatedly raped by Covarrubias, who allegedly threatened to kill her boyfriend and family if she didn’t submit.

Covarrubias, 29, was ending his shift at a DUI checkpoint when he was shot in a scuffle as his police supervisors moved in to arrest him.

The shooting was followed by multiple investigations, a no-confidence vote by officers against the former police chief who later retired, and a federal lawsuit from the teenage girl.

In November, the city of Santa Maria agreed to pay her $185,000 to settle the lawsuit without acknowledging wrongdoing.