CA Department of Justice clears Antioch Police of criminal charges in 2021 officer-involved shooting death

Cover of CA DOJ Policy and Practice Recommendations for APD and Figure 1. photograph from Brentwood Police Department drone footage showing Guadalupe Zavala taking aim and shooting at a police drone. Source: CA DOJ

Guadalupe Zavala caused 6-hour stand-off ending in his death while unarmed

CA DOJ “commends APD” for manner in which they handled situation

Son later sued City of Antioch

CA Attorney General issues “policy and practices recommendations”

By California Department of Justice

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, pursuant to Assembly Bill 1506 (AB 1506), today, Friday, May 24, 2024, released a report on Guadalupe Zavala’s death from an officer-involved shooting involving the Antioch Police Department in Antioch, California on December 10, 2021. The report is part of the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) ongoing efforts to provide transparency and accountability in law enforcement practices. The report provides a detailed analysis of the incident and outlines DOJ’s findings. After a thorough investigation, DOJ concluded that criminal charges were not appropriate in this case. However, DOJ recognizes the important lessons to be learned from this incident. As required by AB 1506, the Attorney General has issued specific policy and practice recommendations related to the incident. 

Figure 2: Distance between Mr. Zavala’s house and the location where Officer Duggar and Sergeant Chang were when they fired their shots. Figure 6: This image shows that the distance between Officer Rombough and Detective McDonald (both positioned on the Antioch armored vehicle) and were about 103 feet from Mr. Zavala when they fired. Source: CA DOJ

“Loss of life is always a tragedy,” said Attorney General Bonta. “AB 1506 is a critical transparency and accountability tool, and our hope for this report is to provide some understanding and aid in advancing towards a safer California for all. The California Department of Justice remains steadfast in our commitment to working together with all law enforcement partners to ensure an unbiased, transparent, and accountable legal system for every resident of California.”

Figure 11: Bullet holes photographed in residence neighboring Mr. Zavala’s home where neighbors reported shots fired by Mr. Zavala. Figures 11A&B: Bullets holes in neighbor’s vehicles outside Mr. Zavala’s residence. Source: CA DOJ

On December 10, 2021, Antioch Police Department responded to multiple calls regarding a man who was barricaded in his home with a rifle after shooting at neighboring homes and vehicles. A standoff lasting more than six hours ensued, during which Mr. Zavala fired multiple rounds from various locations towards law enforcement personnel, vehicles, and nearby residences. De-escalation measures, communications from the crisis negotiations team, and attempts to coerce Mr. Zavala from his residence were unsuccessful. At one point, Mr. Zavala exited his front door carrying what appeared to be a “full AR-15 style rifle.” Two snipers with the Antioch Police Department each fired one round hitting Mr. Zavala, causing him to fall back. However, because Mr. Zavala was wearing body armor, he was able to regain his footing and moved back inside the residence. Later, a fire started in Mr. Zavala’s home, and he ran out and took cover in his backyard. When law enforcement knocked down the fence of Mr. Zavala’s yard with an armored vehicle, Mr. Zavala ran towards the armored vehicle and was fatally shot.

Zavala’s son, Diego Zavala, joined in a 2023 federal lawsuit against the City of Antioch and six Antioch Police officers. (See related articles here, here and here)

Figure 25: Still frame from armored vehicle video of Mr. Zavala getting up halfway after the first round of shots were fired by officers. Figure 4: Mr. Zavala lying prone outside the North side of his home, under a barbecue, with what the helicopter reported to possibly be a handgun in his hands (circled). Figure 9: Cellphone image from Mr. Zavala’s phone from the day of the incident. Source: CA DOJ

Under AB 1506, which requires DOJ to investigate all incidents of officer-involved shootings resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian in the state. DOJ conducted a thorough investigation into this incident and concluded that the evidence does not show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the officers involved did not act in lawful self-defense or defense of others. Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of the officers. As such, no further action will be taken in this case.

Figure 19. Assault rifle found in the hallway of a bedroom in Mr. Zavala’s residence. Figure 21. Ballistic vest recovered from the backyard. Figure 23: A box of unfired .40 caliber S&W ammunition found in the safe of the master bedroom of Mr. Zavala’s residence. Source: DOJ

CA DOJ “Commends APD” for How They Handled Situation

In addition, the report shows the California DOJ Police Practices Section conducted a supplemental review of the information and “PPS commends APD for the manner in which they handled this volatile, dangerous situation, coordinating with neighboring agencies, exploring less-lethal options, and rapidly deploying the SWAT and CNT teams to the incident to attempt to achieve a peaceful surrender.”

Source: CA DOJ

CA DOJ Recommendations

As part of its investigation, DOJ has identified several policy recommendations that it believes will help prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. These recommendations include:


Antioch Police Department should ensure that officers are equipped with effective communications devices that can operate in the hilly areas covered by their department. Antioch Police Department can seek additional coverage or upgrades through their department-issued cell phone or radio carriers or, if that is impracticable or not feasible, examine whether there are other cell phone carriers or radio channels that would work in all areas they serve. 


Antioch Police Department should ensure that their officers can effectively and efficiently communicate with officers from other agencies in future incidents by setting up regional radio channel systems for interagency communication.

See CA DOJ Antioch Police Policy and Practice Recommendations.

Emails were sent early Friday afternoon to Acting Antioch Police Chief Brian Addington, Antioch Police Officers Association leaders and their attorney, Mike Rains for comment on the report, as well as City Attorney Thomas L. Smith, Addington and Rains with questions regarding the 2023 lawsuit that included Zavala’s son. The efforts were unsuccessful prior to publication time.

UPDATE: Rains responded early Friday evening saying, “That was good news from the DOJ. I think the findings were appropriate. The DOJ does a very good job, in my opinion, in these 1506 cases analyzing the facts and clearing the officers of any wrongdoing. I also see the PPS commends the department for de-escalation.”

About the lawsuit he said, “I don’t know on the civil side if the lawsuit is settled or not,” as Rains’ firm does not represent former officer Eric Rombough.

“We represented the officers in the 1506 case, including Duggar and Chang, who were the two primary officers who fired their weapons and were part of the DOJ investigation,” Rains added.

A copy of the complete CA Attorney General’s report can be found here.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

the attachments to this post:

CA DOJ APD commendation 05-24

Zavala assault rifle, vest & ammunition

Zavala bullet holes in neighbor’s house & cars.

Zavala getting shot, outside drone image of him & cell phone image of his gun

Zavala Antioch PD 1st IOS & armored vehicle distances

CA DOJ APD Policy Recommendations 0524 cover & Zavala aiming

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