Santa Maria Police Officer Albert Covarrubias Jr. was fatally shot last…
The city of Santa Maria has settled a lawsuit from a teenage girl who said a police officer threatened and raped her over several weeks before being fatally shot by colleagues attempting to arrest him.
Gilbert Trujillo, Santa Maria's city attorney, said Friday that the $185,000 settlement was "an effort to move forward and put this unfortunate chain of events behind us."
The girl was a 17-year-old police Explorer when she became involved with the 29-year-old officer, Albert Covarrubias Jr. In her federal lawsuit, she said he threatened to kill her boyfriend if she didn't have sex with him.
When other Santa Maria officers tried to arrest him at a DUI roadblock he was manning last Jan. 28, Covarrubias fired his gun and was fatally shot in return fire, according to an investigation by the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office.
"He chose to resist," then-Police Chief Danny R. Macagni told reporters. Covarrubias was under investigation at the time of the shooting over allegations that he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl.
Macagni said developments in the investigation of the officer forced police to take immediate action. He said that the allegations of sexual misconduct were "very explicit."
The police chief said detectives believed that Covarrubias knew he was under investigation, that witnesses were being intimidated and that the public would be at risk if the officer was not arrested before he left his shift.
"The information that we had in hand demanded that we not let him leave that scene, get in a car, drive somewhere. It would put the public at risk if he did," Macagni said. "We just did not know what was going to happen. And we did not expect him to react the way he did."
The case shocked the agricultural city of 100,000 — where, in the wake of several incidents, officers took a vote of no confidence in Macagni. He retired in August.