Santa Maria PD Shooting

A while back, a reader asked my opinion on the Santa Maria PD shooting involving an on-duty officer who was also the suspect in a sex with a minor case.  The incident occurred at the end of January of this year.  For more specific details, check out policeone.com or lawofficer.com.

The gist of the incident is that Ofr. Covarrubias was suspected of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female who, perhaps not so coincidentally, was also in the Santa Maria PD Explorer program.  Both Covarrubias and the girl were assigned to a DUI enforcement night.

A lieutenant with Santa Maria PD was told the Explorer would be called away during the DUI enforcement to make a “pretext call”.  For some reason, the commanding officer of the enforcement night told all the officers present that she would be called away for an investigation.  Covarrubias was present.

The long and short of it is that they attempted to bring Covarrubias into custody during the DUI night.  At some point, he drew his weapon, fired four shots (reportedly at nothing in particular) and then pointed his weapon at his friend, fellow officer, and recent best man forcing his friend to shoot him.

Investigations would later reveal that Covarrubias had texted that he’d rather die than go to jail.

Now, let me be clear, I know nothing more about this incident than what I’ve read on the above links. so my opinion is based on nothing more.  I have no direct knowledge of the investigation or any parties involved.

That being said, it seems like there are all kinds of questions that need to be asked.  I can’t help but wonder if the lieutenant mentioned in the column and the commanding officer were one and the same.  If that is the case, how could that lieutenant not know who was present at the DUI enforcement and who was the target of the pretext call being made.

It is unfortunate, but not all that uncommon, that in a larger agency, the left hand may not know what the right hand is doing.  I understand the occasional need for secrecy, especially considering the nature of both the crime in question and the suspect, but wouldn’t that fall on the heads of those leading that organization and/or division?  Who knows if that was the case here, but it certainly has me wondering.

Secondly, who made the call to do all this in conjunction with a DUI enforcement?  Those are dangerous enough as it is.  Adding multiple levels of investigation that have nothing to do with DUI enforcement only adds to the danger.

And what of the poor officer that shot and killed his friend?  That poor guy had nothing to do with any of this.  The way the columns read, it seems to me that Covarrubias put his friend in the worst possible place and forced him to shoot.  What a terrible burden for his friend to carry for the rest of his life…and I don’t think the man had a choice.  It seems clear to me (again based on what I’ve read) that Covarrubias was determined to commit suicide by cop.

And by the way, why wasn’t Covarrubias wearing a vest?  According to reports, he was shot in the chest and died from his wounds.

I’m sure this investigation is nowhere near over and lawsuits a-plenty will be filed.  The responsibility lies somewhere and I’m glad it isn’t up to me to wade through it.  Situations like this will divide a department, destroy families, and may result in years of drawn out litigation.

The forseeable future is bleak for Santa Maria PD.  There is sure to be plenty of finger-pointing, blaming, and scrutiny like they’ve never experienced before.  All I can do is pray for the officers in that jurisdiction to find their way clear to continue to fight the good fight and uphold the law as they swore to do.

I wish them good luck and God speed.

Image courtesy of Flickr and Navymailman

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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10 thoughts on “Santa Maria PD Shooting

  1. While the shooting itself was an obvious suicide by cop, it would not have happened but for the colossal fuckups on the department’s part. They essentially let the guy stew in his own juice and think about his upcoming trip to prison wearing the tag of a cop AND a child molester. Had he been picked up a little more discreetly, any half-way decent lawyer would have told him that unless forcible intercourse was involved, it might have been only a misdemeanor with no prison time.

    Also, am I the only one who SERIOUSLY questions the timing of the “victim” coming forward just three weeks after Mr Covarrubias married his fiance? I’m thinking the young explorer’s confession was motivated by revenge rather than remorse over what appeared to be a mutually consensual relationship.

  2. MC, thanks for responding, when you said you were busy I thought that I’d get an answer before the end of the semester, didn’t expect it so soon, so thanks! 🙂 I agree with you completely, this has been a really tough situation for the Santa Maria community, it is not a very large city nor is it a particularly large department. Many citizens and city councils members alike have basically asked for the police chief’s head on a platter because of recent events – first an officer involved shooting several months ago (first one in a very long time in the city) and now this. A lot of questions have been posed, including the whole age of consent thing. I just hope the answers to these questions may bring some closure to the family of Ofc. Covarrubias, the PD family and especially to Ofc. Kline who was forced to kill his best friend. My prayers are with these guys, they are a great bunch and I truly hope them all the best.

  3. It was sloppy, sloppy, sloppy work by their internal affairs folks. If you’re going to lock someone up, either do it off duty when they’re not expecting it, or on duty in a way that they aren’t armed. They could have called him to a cell block, conducted a weapon inspection, had their armorer call him in to swap out his weapon on a pretext, etc. There were many ways to go about doing it but the IA people screwed the pooch.

  4. Covarrubias was an epic coward. If he wanted to end it all, he only had to draw his own weapon, away from other people, and do the deed. Instead he forced his best friend to do it, because he didn’t have the balls to do it himself. Of course, if he had real courage, he would still be alive. But now the dishonor is complete.

  5. But why did his friend ( likely knowing that he was manipulated into having to shoot his…well, friend, I guess), why did he shoot him lethally? Seems that they were almost at point blank, shoot in the friggin shoulder, why not? Did he want to assist him? What was going on between these two? Perplexed (

      • Wow, that is bad and sad. Is it througout us that only center mass is allowed? I am trying to figure out the differences between here and Europia, and why these differences exist… Thank you!

        • Hollywood has forever ruined how the public sees policework. It’s not so much a matter of “allowed” as it is just the way we are trained. Center mass offers, well, the most mass in which to connect with a round, for lack of a better term.

          We don’t shoot guns or knives out of people’s hands. In a high stress, life-threatening situation, one reacts the way one trains.

  6. That’ s what I’m saying: da training. It is different in US.
    Hollywood – i don’t realy watch their “true to life” gore.
    Except for “Cops” and “my name is Earl” (guilty! :-p)

    What a douche that dude – screwing up his friend like that. Somehow I do not believe he would have balls to shoot his buddy, though…