Santa Maria police officer shot by best friend

January 30, 2012

Albert Covarrubias, Jr.

The father of the Santa Maria police officer who was shot and killed while on duty Saturday morning by a fellow officer describes the shooter as his son’s best friend. [KSBY]

Officer Matt Kline had attempted to arrest Albert Covarrubias, Jr., while Covarrubias worked a DUI checkpoint on Broadway. Police had discovered the 29-year-old suspect knew he was going to be arrested for sexual misconduct with a child and intimidation of a witness, police said.

Covarrubias allegedly struggled with arresting officers, drew his weapon and fired. Kline shot him once in the chest.

“Instead of having the son that’s arrested I have the son that’s dead,” said Albert Covarrubias Sr. to KSBY. “It doesn’t make sense.”

In addition to a large extended family, Covarrubias also leaves behind his wife whom he married three weeks ago, KSBY said.

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Okay, so now I’ve heard more about this. Once again everyone is jumping on the SMPD and as usual without facts. I don’t know how much of this is factual but I heard a new story that makes sense. They said that they found out that he might have caught wind that there was an investigation. He had just told someone, maybe the 17 year old that he was going to kill her. They went after him right away as opposed to waiting for him to come in as they thought that he was going to act on this right away so they didn’t want to chance waiting for him to come in, he might have flipped out and killed anyone with his mindset at the time. Obviously from his actions he wasn’t of sound mind so I can understand now why the urgency at getting him. IMO the SMPD might have done the right thing in this case.

Oh yeah and I also heard that his first wife killed herself because he was having an affair with a dispatcher. Apparently she called the dispatcher and told her that she was going to kill herself and did it over the phone. Geez this is like watching a soap. What a mess.

Perhaps others had posted this, I haven’t read through all the posts yet, if so then,,never mind. (in my best Roseannadanna voice)

Oh, my. Unproven allegations. I hope you aren’t “jumping on the bandwagon again.”

Nope, just relaying what I heard. Of course there still should be an investigation.

The information to which you refer (that he was accused of having sex with a minor and that he was attempting to intimidate witnesses (both of which are serious crimes) was available from the very beginning.

Yes it was and the rest might be simple gossip but it wasn’t available from the beginning. If that was the story from the start then why was everyone saying that they should have waited until he got back to the station to arrest him? I might have missed it because in all honesty between this and the Solomon story I haven’t read all the posts but I hadn’t seen where his ex had killed herself because he was having an affair. Again, although the person that told me this was sure that it was correct I don’t know it to be factual. Just thought I tell everyone what I’ve heard.

More details from the SMTimes (


“…The officer who fired the fatal shot was an 8- or 9-year veteran, Macagni said. As is routine in police-involved shootings, that officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of internal and external investigations.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the shooting.

About seven officers were on scene clearing up the checkpoint when the shooting happened, and there was very little traffic in the area at the time…..

….. The accused officer won’t be honored the way a fallen member of law enforcement usually is, Macagni said, because “that would be totally hypocritical on my part.”…..

….. Drew Sugars, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said the agency conducts investigations for other law enforcement departments when it is asked to do so.

He said that while he had no comment right now on the incident, the Sheriff’s Department will eventually submit its findings to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office……


Reply to MaryMalone:

It is interesting to note that the link to the L.A. Times article also provides access to another highly publicized police shooting which involved a homicide by a female L.A. County detective who shot her former boyfriend’s new wife. When the department realized that they had to arrest one of their own, who was still carrying her service revolver, they decided the safest thing to do was to send her a message that she was to return to the jail to interview an inmate who had information related to one of the cases she was investigating. They knew that when she got to the jail, she would have to turn over her gun as a matter of routine before entering the facility. The ruse worked and when she entered the facility, the police were waiting for her.

They had decided that this was the safest way to place her in custody, and safer than going to her home, or confronting her at work while she was still armed. The story was the basis for a cbs 48 Hours program, if anyone cares to look at it. Hopefully, Santa Maria Police will adopt similar procedures in the future.

I believe SMPD’s jail is in SB.

LACoSD is a HUGE LE agency. It is easier to keep things on the QT in a large LE agency.

There are many other major differences between SMPD and LACoSD.

So what works for LACounty will not necessarily work for SMPD.

Covarrubias was accused of two serious crimes, one of which was intimidating a witness. He showed no hesitation on pulling a gun and firing on his fellow SMPD officers when they attempted to take him into custody.

He already knew the internal criminal investigation had turned serious enough for him to be arrested.

So what makes you think, if they would have tried to use any kind of ruse to bring him in out of the field, that he would have done what he was ordered to do? I think it is just as likely he would have gone to the witness and drawn a gun on her/him, as well, perhaps with lethal results.

“Instead of having the son that’s arrested I have the son that’s dead,” said Albert Covarrubias Sr. to KSBY. “It doesn’t make sense.”

All insipid blessings aside, what doesn’t make sense is that his son pulled his gun and fired it while his “best friend” was struggling with him in the arrest! Under the circumstances of knowing you’re going to be arrested for said alleged crimes, is it really necessary for officer Covarrubias to put his “best friend” in danger too?

I cannot even fathom being in the position of pulling a gun and killing your best friend. This will undoubtedly live with officer Kline for the rest of his life. Because of this act, and subjectively, he should leave the SM police force, and after recovery, seek to find another profession.

So would this man’s death be considered an officer killed in the line of duty?

He was on duty at the time and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

No, I can’t see that happening, even in Santa Maria.

I will say it again, the chief could have handled this better. He should have been arrested before he went out on patrol or wait until he comes in after his shift.

SMPD is extremely lucky that no civilians were injured in this case.

At his press conference on Saturday, Chief Macagni specifically said that Covarrubias’s death would NOT be considered in the line of duty and that he would NOT be accorded the honors of a fallen officer.

That seems a bit premature IMO. The chief should not make a judgement like that until this investigated.

Covarrubias pulled a gun and fired on his fellow officers!

And you think it is “premature” to withhold the honors of a fallen officer? He turned on his fellow officers and attempted to shoot them. There is NOTHING honorable about that. THAT is what desperate criminals and gangbangers do.

What should the SMPD do? Award him a Medal of Valor?


Never mind, I guess and investigation would be too much to ask for. I forgot, this forum is not they type of place where people want investigations for facts. All anyone needs to to do is log on to CCN and they’ll find out all the details needed.

This guy sounds like he was nut case and the shooting was most likely warranted but usually officers are put on admin leave while the circumstances of such an incident are looked into just in case the story isn’t what the gossip crowd on CCN judged it to be.

That is a red herring. I don’t believe anyone has said there should not be an investigation.

However, in the meantime, folks make decisions based on the available information. It’s how people operate.

For the chief to say “he would NOT be accorded the honors of a fallen officer.’ then what’s the point of having an investigation? He’s already made up his mind as to what has happened. I can understand him saying two or three days after the incident but to say that within 24 hours just seems premature. What’s the rush, why not wait a few a days to make sure he has all his ducks in a row?

But the arrest occurred during the wee hours. Possibly no witnesses at all, other than the cops. Will the court just have to take their word for it? Any video? This is a strange case.

What an interesting movie this would make- it almost plays out like one.

The Chief of Police really messed up here. 1st mistake was allowing the arresting Officer to be the suspect’s Best Friend, additionally arresting the suspect at work during a DUI checkpoint puts the public at risk. Could you imagine if a stray bullet hit an innocent bystander? Was there no reason why the suspect couldn’t be arrested at the beginning or end of his shift? As Chief of Police, all worst case scenarios have to be assumed in the interest of public safety.

Furthermore, I’m convinced the suspect committed suicide by pulling his gun. He knew what would happen through his training, and a cop in prison for sex with a minor is recipe for life of hell.

Well, I kind of thought if his best friend could’nt talk the sense into him of turning himself in then he was too far gone to care about anything!

Looks like more to the story besides the sex with a minor charge, cheif said mutiple felony charges. Knowing santa maria, best guess would be drugs and prositution!

“What an interesting movie this would make- it almost plays out like one.”


I think the Transformers movie would be more believable than what goes on with the SMPD, especially this officer/child-molester/witness-intimidator/friend vs. officer-friend shooting.

Why would anyone in charge that night have an officer arrest his best friend, especially since it was such a hot and dangerous case that the officer had to be arrested right then, on SM’s main drag

No. Even in the movies, police are not that inept.

Kline wasn’t sent to arrest him. He was working the checkpoint alongside him. The reports all say that “supervisors” were sent to arrest him. When he started fighting with them and shooting, Kline had to do what had to be done.

I feel very bad for Kline, hope he understands he did what was needed. I think it sucks they released his name.

I agree, I feel bad for him as well. You’re right, they shouldn’t have released his name, they usually don’t do that.

SMPD. seems to have several internal leaks, the idea that Covarrubia knew before hand of his arrest was bad, but now the name of the man that shot him in the line of duty , tells me this is being handled badly.

Covarrubias’ father was the first one to release the name of the officer who shot Covarrubias.

That figures, revenge no matter what he dd that was so wrong?

Actually, Covarrubias’ father appears to be trying to work up support for his son’s actions. The flowers and teddy-bears increase at the “memorial” where Covarrubias tried to shoot his fellow officers.

His father has also come out and dictated that no SMPD personnel will be allowed to attend Covarrubias’ funeral.

If it was my relative I would feel shame and be more inclined to be apologetic TO THE COMMUNITY for his criminal and dangerous actions. thank God he did’nt shoot

an innocent bystander or retaliate against the witness.

As far as I know, the police department has NOT released his name. The press found it out and began reporting it. I understand that they’ve been hounding him so much that he’s left town for a while.

oh , that great leave town.

Mea culpa. I stand corrected.

Do you think Covarrubias had some hope that his best friend would join the battle on his (Covarrubias’) side?

This is just so tragic.

Maybe they didn’t want any “inconvenient” witness to what went down. Anything is possible.

I was earlier open to the speculation that the 17 year old might have been the daughter or a LEO.

Now I am open to the speculation that this deceased officer may have been involved in the use of illicit drugs due to his unusual or deluded behaviors.

Jack L

“Instead of having the son that’s arrested I have the son that’s dead,”

This suggest that a law suit is being considered by the family.

If the facts reported are accurate, the only thing out of a settlement will be widow’s benefit.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. In retrospect, knowing the outcome, would the chief have handled it differently? Time will tell. Sometimes the learning curve is tragic.

“Instead of having the son that’s arrested I have the son that’s dead,” Also keep in mind long before the public knew the latino police man was the perf. Reyes, vice president of the League of United Latin American Citizens was at the 1st press release ! Spin city here we go.

The chief used the word egregious evidence to discribe the choice to arrest him on the spot.

I know LEs and I know a college athletic trainer. Steroids are widely used: in sports, by police, by CIA agents, by border agents, by prison guards.

They feel they have to, and I have to say, they have a point. These guys are required to put their lives on the line, going against perps who are ramped up on steroids, meth, whatever.

Using steroids when they weight-train gives them at least an equal match when they encounter someone ramped up into psychosis. In addition, it gives them the ability to sometimes take a chance and not use lethal means if they think they can handle it by hooking them up with just their own training and strength.

That’s why you see a few token celebrity players prosecuted for steroid use. If they went after the LEs, CIA agents, border patrol agents, etc., the death rate in those fields would rise. And that just would not be right, on many levels.

It isn’t a perfect world, and those who deal with the really dangerous elements of our society deserve to have an even playing field–at the very least.

I know there is a down-side, like those who get themselves to the point where they cannot control the aggressiveness steroids bring. There are tragedies from that, too.

No good answers here. Our society sucks and, to some extent, some of our police must suck, as well, to make it so the police can survive their jobs.

I have been reading blogs that LEO’s utilize. Many have had to arrest in their own department. Some of the potential crimes were worse than this. But 8 out of 10 say this attempted arrest was a cluster and can’t figure why it was handled this way. They of course gave many options.

In the long haul I assume this will cost the city or country some major dollars.

Remember; ‘There is a lawyer attached to every bullet.’

I can’t say there won’t be a lawsuit here, people try to sue for everything and there’s always some attorney willing to take your money. Look at the case of the college student crossing the 101 while drunk and high as a kite! Somehow the parents thought it was the cities responsibility to put up fences so that the CalPoly prodigy kids with the 4.0+ GPA’s can’t run in the road! I guess nothing would surprise me when it comes to some of the “blame game” law suits that are filed but when it comes to actually prevailing, that’s another story. If he resisted arrest, drew his weapon and discharged it, sorry but blaming the arresting PD for not doing it different isn’t going to fly. Time to grow up girls and boys.

Clearly, with what our LEOs face, with the use of steroids in the ranks, they need the best leadership available.

There are dicey situations that develop, and they cannot survive their job if they have the kind of failed leadership like the SMPD officers have had to deal with now.

In addition, I would absolutely love it if we could change the laws/regulations so that the LEOs could use steroids with weight training, managed by a department-aligned physician who knows what they are doing. The LEOs also need a commander/chief who can provide the kind of leadership that acknowledges steroid use, is honest about why they have to do it, and who can LEAD them in this high-risk situation our LEOs face every day.


I guess I have zero tolerance for officers about to be taken into custody for molesting a 17-year-old and attempting to intimidate a witness who, to avoid being taken in, draw their weapon and shoot at their fellow officers.

In hindsight, whether the approach was the correct one or not, there is (IMO) ZERO justification for an officer pulling a gun and shooting at his fellow officers to avoid being taken into custody.

What a tragic story. The details unfolding are so very sad. My condolensces to all who are touched by this incident. Blessings.

I agree, this is very tragic all the way around. When looking at the picture of this guy he looks like a kid. Only married for a few weeks and shot by his best friend it’s just too sad, his poor family. I hope that they had the sense to conduct this arrest in front of their squad camera. This needs to be throughly investigated but without video we many never know the whole story. I was thinking that this was a case of suicide (by cop) but why would he have his best friend shoot him?

It certainly does sound like a case of suicide by cop, as he had to know what the result would be with 8 to 10 other cops present………………..

Didn’t his first wife commit suicide a few years ago? You’ve really got to feel for his kids.

OMG I didn’t know that his first wife committed suicide, that’s horrible. Those kids are going to need long term therapy to break that cycle.

The photo on other news websites show him to be older.

I know what you mean about him looking young, though. I thought, jeeze, is this is police explorer picture or what?