‘Officers Acted Lawfully,’ Says DA in Case of Fatal Shooting in McKinleyville

David FultonPress release from the County of Humboldt:

District Attorney Maggie Fleming has concluded her review of the fatal officer-involved shooting in McKinleyville on August 18, 2016.

On Wednesday, August 17, 2016, at about 9 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Communications Center received a 911 call from the area of 1770 Sutter Road, Redwood Creek Apartments, McKinleyville.  The caller reported multiple gunshots within the apartment complex.  Responding HCSO deputies learned that a disgruntled tenant, David Fulton, had fired a rifle across the interior parking lot at the manager’s office. Mr. Fulton was known to on-site management to have “long term mental health issues” and had telephoned numerous threats to them that morning.  As HCSO deputies arrived, Mr. Fulton fired additional gunshots.  One of the deputies returned fire. Mr. Fulton was not hit but retreated back inside his upstairs apartment. He remained there despite directions to exit the building from the law enforcement officers who surrounded the building.   The officers learned Mr. Fulton’s female companion was also inside the apartment.

The HCSO set up a command post near the scene and secured a perimeter with the assistance of other agencies.  HCSO Captain Thompson requested the assistance of the Humboldt County SWAT team.  An additional SWAT team from Mendocino County was also summoned.  SWAT team members began evacuating neighbors around 11 a.m.  Crisis negotiators and Humboldt County mental health personnel were also on scene by 11 a.m.

Mental health personnel assisted and advised the crisis negotiation team who used a public address system to make numerous attempts to coax Mr. Fulton into coming out of his apartment and surrendering. He could be heard shouting unintelligibly, but he refused to come out.   At about 1 a.m. –nearly 14 hours after law enforcement were called to the scene- Mr. Fulton fired additional shots.  SWAT personnel used a light/sound distraction device to break out the front window.  About 20 minutes later, Mr. Fulton’s female companion emerged from the apartment unharmed.  Mr. Fulton fired more shots and the surrounding officers saw a fire growing inside the apartment.  At about 2 a.m. Mr. Fulton emerged from the apartment as it became engulfed in flames, firing his rifle at the SWAT team members, striking their vehicle.  They returned fire, killing him.

The Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) investigated the fatal shooting and the events leading up to it.  (The CIRT team is composed of law enforcement personnel from other county law enforcement agencies and investigators from the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.)  In this case they were assisted by forensic scientists from the California Department of Justice and Humboldt County Fire/Arson Investigators.  CIRT investigators conducted extensive recorded interviews of participants and observers of the incident and supervised the collection of physical evidence.  Although the exact cause of the fire could not be determined the light/sound distraction device, electrical and natural gas appliances were all eliminated as causing the fire.  The autopsy on Mr. Fulton revealed injuries from the fire and gunshot wounds consistent with the reports of the witnesses.  Toxicological analyses showed he had taken two different prescription psychotropic drugs prior to the incident.

In the course of their duties, law enforcement officers may use deadly force in response to deadly force used or threatened against them. District Attorney Fleming’s review of the investigative reports on this case leads her to conclude the officers acted lawfully.   Unfortunately, the peaceful end to the incident well-sought by law enforcement was prevented by Mr. Fulton’s violent actions. District Attorney Maggie Fleming contacted Mr. Fulton’s mother, expressed her deep regret for her loss and notified her of this decision.


Earlier Chapters:



  • This dude chose to go out in a blaze of glory!

  • Yep. Law enforcement had no choice but to put him down. Sad situation. Should have never happened. Thankfully no innocent bystander was hit by a stray bullet.

  • No sure about “no choice”. Everyone knew he was mentally ill. Seems with our best marksmen there they could have shot him in a non-lethal manner. Just really SAD.

  • They knew he had mental issue’s,so why kill him?maybe he was off his meds,and maybe it was suicide by cop. Sad sad rubber bullets work!

  • Choices and chances

    Why risk him shooting again and hitting an officer or someone else, mentally ill or not you can’t shoot guns at people.When you come out firing at the cops you can expect to be shot dead, they have the right to eliminate a threat to the public when it happens like this.We should all be happy they did what they did and no one else got harmed by the mad man.

  • It is sad but if you shoot at a cop you will be killed. He could have killed someone. Rubber bullets are only good for short range. No one wants to be that close to someone armed with real bullets, off there meds actively shooting in an apartment complex in the middle of town, armed with less lethal means.

  • I’m really glad no one else was hurt. I was just trying to say,why do we have to kill them all. I know they had to stop the the man shooting,just why kill them. Their are other methods,I’m not a shoot and ask questions later person. It’s only my opinion,isn’t that what a comment section is for?pardon my attitude.i can’t be happy a human is dead

  • I didn’t think you had an attitude, I thought you were asking a question, by all means post opinions I like to read them, made me sad too, have a good rest of the day.

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