Prosecutors exonerate police officers who killed gunman during wildfire evacuation

Four officers who fatally shot a man with high levels of methamphetamine at a California wildfire evacuation checkpoint will not be charged, officials said this week.

The decision was announced Tuesday along with the results of a report on the death of Soobleej Kaub Hawj, 35, who was killed on June 24, 2021 after being charged at a checkpoint outside of Big Springs in Siskiyou County, Sacramento Gun pointed at officials, Biene reported.

Hawj, whose truck was filled with 132 pounds of weed, had an out-of-state warrant at the time and slammed his truck into officers at the checkpoint, where evacuations were underway as a flashfire threatened thousands of illegal marijuana farms, according to a nine-page letter from Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus.

An officer who was just six feet away from Hawj’s .45 caliber handgun told investigators it was the “darkest hole” he’s ever seen in his life, according to the letter, which police are releasing.

The cops then opened fire, causing Hawj’s truck to stagger forward and almost collided with an officer before crashing into a game warden’s vehicle, Andrus said.

Soobleej Kaub Hawj
Hawj was found with methamphetamine and amphetamines in his system.
    Photo of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife vehicle that the deceased hit with his truck in the middle of the exchange in question.
Hawj rammed his truck into a game warden’s vehicle.
District Procuratorate of Siskiyou County

Investigators later found the loaded handgun in Hawj’s pickup truck, as well as two assault rifles, including one with a silencer, in the back seat. He also had up to $175,000 worth of marijuana in large plastic containers, according to prosecutors.

Hawj died from three gunshot wounds to the head. He also had methamphetamine and amphetamines in his system, an autopsy revealed.

Hawj was wanted in Colorado, where court records show he had been charged with marijuana and firearms felonies, according to the Sacramento Bee.

    A photo of the cannabis found in the back of the deceased's truck after the shooting
Hawj’s truck was filled with 132 pounds of marijuana.
District Procuratorate of Siskiyou County
A photograph from the driver's seat area of ​​the deceased's vehicle, showing bullet holes in the truck's windshield.
The 35-year-old was shot dead after pointing a loaded gun at officers.
District Procuratorate of Siskiyou County

The fatal shots led to allegations of excessive violence and that they were part of a racially motivated campaign to rid the area of ​​illegal pot farms and the Asian Americans who tended them.

But Andrus noted that the actions of Hawj of Kansas City, Kansas only sparked the shooting.

“He had a crop of cash in the back of his truck that he seemed prepared to defend,” Andrus wrote in the nine-page letter. “Perhaps he was mistaken that residents would be directed to an area where they would be searched for marijuana. He would have been wrong.” Prosecutors exonerate police officers who killed gunman during wildfire evacuation


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