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Galt officer cleared in fatal shooting

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Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 12:48 pm | Updated: 6:05 am, Wed Mar 21, 2012.

A former Galt police officer involved in a fatal shooting last year has been cleared of any wrongdoing, according to a report released by the District Attorney's Office on Tuesday.

Philip Oliver, 28, was shot and killed by Galt Police Officer Bruce Ramos on June 3, 2011, after police said Oliver was assaulting his mother and carrying a knife. He also reportedly threatened to kill the responding officers.

Investigators determined Ramos had a right to act in self-defense and in defense of other officers.

"Based on our review of the case, we felt very confident in the outcome of the D.A., and this reinforces what we believed was going to be the outcome," City Manager Jason Behrmann said. "We're pleased we can move forward and put this behind us."

Oliver's parents William Farren and Karen Suzanne Oliver-Farren could not be reached for comment, and their Stockton attorney Kenneth Meleyco declined to speak with a reporter.

The shooting was believed to be the first time in the city's history a police officer has killed someone in the line of duty.

After every officer-involved shooting, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Homicide Department evaluates the shooting and determines if it was warranted or not. If the shooting is deemed unjustified or unwarranted, the district attorney can prosecute the officer.

Ramos, who worked for the Galt Police Department for more than 20 years, was placed on administrative leave while the investigation was conducted. He no longer works for the city for reasons unrelated to the shooting, according to Behrmann, who declined to elaborate since it is a personnel matter.

Ramos' last day of work was Jan. 16.

Police Chief William Bowen said the department did not plan to change any of its tactics in light of the report.

The shooting took place when police responded to the 100 block of Franston Street around 5:20 p.m. on June 3. Officers were familiar with the residence Oliver shared with his parents, as they had been responding to calls there since Oliver was a pre-teen, according to the report.

His criminal history included grand theft, robbery, battery on a police officer and previous assaults with a deadly weapon on his mother.

Post-mortem lab results included in the District Attorney's report showed Oliver had methamphetamine in his system.

When Ramos arrived on scene, according to the report, he unholstered his Taser weapon. He could hear yelling and saw Oliver standing just inside the residence, not outside as originally reported.

Through a black perforated metal screen door, Oliver told Ramos he had a gun and would "smoke" anyone who came inside, investigators reported.

When Oliver refused to open the door or come outside, and after Ramos and other officers tried to calm Oliver down, Ramos reholstered the Taser and moved to the side of the house, where he found another metal screen door that was locked.

At that time, another officer yelled to Ramos indicating that Oliver knew where Ramos was. Within seconds, Oliver reportedly arrived at the door and yelled at Ramos. At the same time, according to the report, officers heard a loud noise.

"I heard a loud bang, and it wasn't like someone dropped a pan on the ground, either. It was a boom," Ramos told investigators.

He believed either he or another officer had been shot at, according to the report.

Ramos then fired two rounds on Oliver, hitting him once in the torso.

The origin of the boom noise was unknown, but a police sergeant on scene interviewed by investigators said he believed it was a gunshot while another officer said it sounded like a metal security door slamming shut.

Although officers did not see Oliver holding a weapon, a person told police that just prior to the shooting that he saw Oliver beating up his mother, and said he had two knives in his hand. One was similar to a butcher knife or cleaver, according to the report.

Two knives were reportedly found on scene following the shooting.

Bowen acknowledged that officers never saw a weapon in his hand, but Oliver had repeatedly claimed he had one and threatened to hurt officers.

Additionally, Karen Suzanne Oliver-Farren had told police her son had choked her, beat her and threatened to kill her and her husband, and held a kitchen fork to her throat before police arrived on scene.

She also said he had a mental condition that he regularly took medication for, but William Farren claimed Oliver had not taken his medicine and was instead on methamphetamine.

In a $25 million wrongful death claim filed against the city a month after the incident, Oliver's parents said their son was not a threat to Ramos and there was no reason to use deadly force.

On Feb. 24, the couple filed suit against the city in the Eastern District Court, citing civil rights violations. Behrmann said the city received notice last week.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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