San Bruno Police Officer Cleared in Deadly Police Shooting

By Bay City News Service: 

Prosecutors have concluded that a San Bruno police officer who shot and killed a suspect driving a stolen car last October was justified because the suspect was driving the car toward the officer and endangering his life, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Officer Andrew Harper killed Ryan Salonga, 25, early on the morning of Oct. 22, 2013, after a confrontation on Poplar Avenue, Wagstaffe said in a letter to San Bruno police Chief Neil Telford dated Feb. 5.

 Salonga was driving a black Acura near El Camino Real and Taylor Boulevard and Harper spotted him there at 2:08 a.m. while on patrol, Wagstaffe said. Harper confirmed the car was reported stolen and followed the driver onto Jenevein Avenue and then Poplar, a dead-end street.

 Wagstaffe said an investigation by his office revealed that once on Poplar, Harper turned his patrol car's overhead lights on and the Acura stopped in the middle of the street. Harper got out of his car and approached the Acura with his gun drawn. Harper told the two occupants of the Acura to show their hands and turn off the car's ignition, but as he approached the passenger side door of the car it sped forward and to the left, and then backwards onto a house's lawn, Wagstaffe said.

 The officer continued shouting commands but while the passenger put his hands up through the car's sunroof, Salonga allegedly sped forward, prompting Harper to unload his gun at the driver.

 The car was hit 14 times by gunfire and Salonga then reversed directions and drove back onto the lawn and crashed into the home's front porch before stopping, Wagstaffe said.

 Salonga was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, identified as Sonny Ivone Tialavea, was not hit by gunfire and was arrested.

 Wagstaffe said Tialavea corroborated Harper's story and said that he had told Salonga to comply with the officer's orders but Salonga did not answer him.  Tialavea told investigators that after the officer fired Salonga was coughing up blood, but still kept backing up into the home's porch.

 An autopsy found methamphetamine in Salonga's blood, Wagstaffe said.

 "Officer Harper exercised his police powers in an appropriately decisive manner against a person who appeared to be driving his vehicle directly toward the officer while attempting to escape capture for driving a stolen vehicle," Wagstaffe concluded in his letter.

 Police said after the incident that Salonga had a lengthy criminal history including fleeing from officers in 2008 while running stop signs and reaching speeds of 95 mph before crashing on Interstate Highway 280.

 He was arrested in that incident on charges of resisting arrest, evading a peace officer, driving on a suspended license and possession of burglary tools after the tools were found on him and in his vehicle, police said.

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Senor Gigante February 23, 2014 at 02:59 PM
Good riddance. I'm happy the State taxpayers will be spared from the expense of a lengthy prison stay by the dirtbag.
Sam Chetcuti February 23, 2014 at 07:38 PM
If the deceased had driven so erratically in the past, how is it that he had a drivers license? To top it off, how is it that a low life like this guy was even on the street? I am sorry to see that he was killed but if you live by the sword you shall die by the sword.
Unsuscribed. February 24, 2014 at 11:30 AM
I feel sorry for the parents of the thug, but at the same time the streets will somewhat safer now.
Vicki Brown February 24, 2014 at 12:56 PM
He _unloaded his gun_ into the driver of the car???
Doug Abbott February 24, 2014 at 04:55 PM
How's that Chris Burnett case coming along, Wagstaffe?


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