San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe announced Monday that his office will not file criminal charges against a Foster City police officer and detective involved in the shooting of a man during a sexual assault investigation in January.
Wagstaffe declined to file charges against Officer Aziz Obaidi and Detective Jack Turner after Obaidi shot Foster City resident Jowy Roman at his Marlin Avenue apartment on Jan. 22.
An investigation into the shooting by Inspector James Haggarty from the district attorney’s office included interviews with Obaidi, Turner and other members of the Foster City Police Department and a review of body camera footage from the shooting.
Obaidi and Turner had arrived at Roman’s residence on Jan. 22 to serve arrest and search warrants after Roman’s wife reported to Child Protective Services that he was sexually abusing their 13-year-old daughter.
The victim told investigators Roman had repeatedly told her that he would kill himself or encourage the police to kill him if she told anyone about the alleged abuse.
Obaidi, Turner and other officers arrived at the residence and found Roman in the bathroom with the door locked. The officers broke through the door and found Roman with a knife, determining that he was self-harming. After the officers attempted to stun Roman using a Taser stun gun, he attempted to stab Turner, who was wearing a ballistic vest and only suffered a mild bruise from the attempt.
Roman’s 3-inch knife broke after the stabbing attempt, but Turner said Obaidi appeared to be unaware of that fact and fired one round into the left side of Roman’s chest. Turner then ordered Obaidi to cease fire and the officers were able to extract Roman from the bathroom and give him first aid while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
Explaining his decision not to file charges against the officers, Wagstaffe wrote in a letter to Foster City police Chief Tracy Avelar:
“They faced a dangerous and tense situation. They were in close quarters with a man with a desperate man seemingly bent on causing death or great bodily injury to the officers or to himself.”
“They repeatedly demonstrated great restraint in attempting to convince Mr. Roman to drop the knife and end the threatening behavior. … Only when Mr. Roman stabbed Detective Turner did Officer Obaidi use lethal force to protect his fellow officer and he fired just one shot that disabled Mr. Roman.”
Roman currently faces 54 felony charges, including 53 charges of sexual assault and witness dissuasion. His next court date is scheduled for May 27 for his preliminary hearing in the case.
The letter to Avelar from the district attorney’s office incorrectly said the shooting occurred Jan. 17. Wagstaffe later clarified the shooting occurred on Jan. 22.