Cop who fatally shot machete assault suspect won’t be charged

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office said a San Diego police officer was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot an assault suspect wielding a heavy metal chain and will not be charged.

Officer Corey Potts was responding to a machete assault in Southcrest on August 8, when he encountered the suspect. The suspect, later identified as 48-year-old Vaughn Harrison Denham, was wielding a three- to four-foot-long metal chain and began swinging the chain at Potts.

Despite repeated commands to drop the weapon, Denham did not comply and continued advancing on Potts, who retreated for a block and a half. Potts fired a Taser, which did not have a visible effect on Denham, before firing his weapon.

“For more than one minute, the officer continued to give commands to drop the weapon, get on the ground and warned he would be forced to shoot,” the District Attorney’s Office said in an official statement. “As Denham ignored the officer’s commands and continued to close the distance between the two men, the officer fired two rounds, striking Denham.”

Denham was transported to the hospital after the incident and died later that night. Toxicology reports showed evidence of phencyclidine, cannabinoids and methamphetamine in Denham’s system at the time of his death.

The District Attorney’s office released the officer’s body-worn camera as part of its review.

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