Oakland: CHP to pay $7 million over controversial 2020 fatal shooting by three officers

Attorney calls for criminal charges against officers

OAKLAND, Calif. — According to court records, the California Highway Patrol will pay $7 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging wrongdoing by three officers who shot and killed a 23-year-old man and injured his girlfriend in 2020.

The family of Erik Salgado, 23, filed the lawsuit, seeking damages from the CHP for the June 2, 2020 shooting, which sparked protests and calls for criminal charges against the officers. Salgado’s death was one of two contentious Bay Area police shootings that occurred in the days following the police killing of George Floyd, during which the region erupted in protests, rioting, and looting.

Salgado and his girlfriend were driving in a Dodge Charger that had been reported stolen from a San Leandro dealership weeks earlier when CHP Sgt. Richard Henderson, officers Eric Hulbert and Donald Saputa, and officers Eric Hulbert and Donald Saputa opened fire on the vehicle. The officers, who were part of an anti-car-theft task force, later claimed the Dodge tried to ram them.

Henderson, who previously worked in Southern California, was one of two officers who shot and killed a Fullerton man in 2016, in eerily similar circumstances to Salgado’s.

The previous Alameda County District Attorney administration, led by Nancy O’Malley, declined to charge the officers but did not accept their version of events, writing in a report that prosecutors were “unable to refute” what the officers claimed and that “questions remain” about what happened.

Pamela Price, the new District Attorney, has already reopened several police killings that were closed without charges under O’Malley. Civil rights lawyer John Burris, who represented Salgado’s girlfriend and family in the lawsuit, urged Price to reopen the case, calling it “complete overkill” and “a massacre.”

“The officers fired their guns as if Salgado was a shooting gallery target,” Burris said in a news release. “The officers’ conduct was inhumane and a reckless disregard for human life for which they should be criminally prosecuted.”

Price’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether Price would review the case.

The $7 million settlement was reached prior to key stages of the case, including defense motions to reduce or dismiss the allegations. CHP attorneys, who were employed by the California Attorney General’s office, denied the claims in legalese-filled boilerplate court papers.

The settlement is comparable to other contentious police killings in the Bay Area. The city of Vallejo paid out $5.7 million in 2020 for Officer Ryan McMahon’s shooting death of city resident Ronell Foster, who was later fired for his role in the police fatal shooting of Willie McCoy in 2019.

Later that year, Pittsburg paid a $7.3 million settlement to the family of Humberto Martinez, who died after officers placed him in a carotid hold and sat on top of him following a brief foot chase into a nearby residence. In an alleged college degree scam, two of the officers were later charged with wire fraud.

A federal lawsuit is still pending against Vallejo officers who killed 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa in Vallejo on the same day Salgado was killed.

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