Morro Bay officer explains why he shot burglary suspect
March 24, 2016
A Morro Bay police officer who shot a burglary suspect in the leg last October testified Wednesday that he feared for his life at the time. The officer shot the suspect after the man attacked him with a 4-foot stick. [Tribune]
On Oct. 30, Alec Bryan Stephenson, 20, allegedly broke into the Good Flea 2nd Hand Store on Quintana Road. Witnesses of the alleged burglary said Stephenson was making statements about “reclaiming some of God’s property.”
Stephenson fled by bicycle to Morro Rock. Officer Dale Cullum, who was driving a patrol SUV, caught up with Stephenson and bumped the suspect’s bicycle. Stephenson fell to the ground.
At a court hearing Wednesday, Cullum testified that his seat belt got stuck as he was trying to get out of the vehicle. Stephenson struck him hard in the head while he was stuck in the vehicle, Cullum said.
When Cullum got out of the vehicle, he drew his handgun. Stephenson was about five feet away and advancing while Cullum ordered him to stop and drop the stick, Cullum testified.
Cullum fired two shots, and one bullet hit Stephenson in the leg.
The officer testified that prior to shooting Stephenson he had blood streaming down his face and was disoriented. I just had the shit knocked out of me, and I wanted to go home and not to the hospital or somewhere else, Cullum said. I did not want to die.
A San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office investigator interviewed Stephenson at the hospital. The investigator testified that Stephenson said he was trying to stab Cullum in the face and that the police bumped him off his bicycle and he was going to kill them.
Both the city of Morro Bay and the DA’s Office cleared Cullum of wrongdoing.
Stephenson spent one day in the hospital following the shooting. In December, he was declared mentally incompetent and sent to Atascadero State Hospital, but Stephenson’s competency was restored earlier this month.
The defendant is charged with assault on an officers, battery with injury and second-degree commercial burglary. A judge ruled there is enough evidence for Stephenson to stand trial on the charges.