DA clears deputies who shot Alpine man to death

SAN DIEGO -- Three San Diego County sheriff's deputies were justified in fatally shooting an Alpine man who charged at them with a knife in his hand last fall, according to a report released Wednesday by the District Attorney's Office.

Daniel Ayala, 31, was shot 10 times outside his apartment in the 2600 block of Alpine Boulevard last Nov. 12.

Sgt. Chris Katra, Cpl. Sean McGillicuddy and Deputy Kevin Nulton responded to that address around 2:50 p.m. following reports that a man was screaming, talking about killing himself and others, and throwing items, according to a letter prepared by District Attorney Summer Stephan and addressed to San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.

Body camera footage from two of the lawmen was also released by the D.A.'s office.

As the deputies approached the front door of Ayala's unit and knocked, announcing "Sheriff's Department" three times, Ayala opened the door, said "What's up!" and jabbed a knife twice through his metal screen door, the body-worn camera footage shows.

The deputies backed up from the door as Nulton alerted the others by saying "Knife, knife, knife."

Ayala then opened the screen door and advanced towards the lawmen, who opened fire, striking him mostly in the upper body, according to Stephan's letter.

Ayala died at the scene. His 5-year-old son was inside the apartment during the entire encounter, but was physically unharmed, according to the district attorney.

Toxicology results showed Ayala had methamphetamine, heroin, cannabis and alcohol in his system.

Stephan's letter concludes that the deputies "were in a confined space when Ayala advanced on them quickly with a knife in his hand." The letter also notes Ayala's previously reported statements about killing people.

"The deputies had no other option available to them as they Ayala could stab them immediately and seriously injure or kill them," the letter reads.

Katra has been employed by the San Diego Sheriff's Department for 18 years, McGillicuddy for 12 years and Nulton for 10 years.

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