A Kern County Sheriff's Office review board ruled that the deputy in the officer-involved Sept. 3 shooting on Highway 14 was justified in shooting the suspect, according to a news release.
The deputy, Christopher Saldana, was cleared to return to duty following the review on Monday.
"After reviewing all the facts involved in this case, the Critical Incident Review Board determined the force used by Deputy Saldana in this incident was within departmental policy," the KCSO news release stated.
Saldana was forced to shoot and kill 37-year-old Lancaster resident Fernando Napoles during an incident at the Highway 14/Redrock Randsburg Road intersection on Sept. 3. Saldana had been dispatched to the scene after KCSO received reports of a man armed with a rifle on the scene.
Upon arrival, Saldana found two vehicles, one of which was reported stolen. On approaching a second vehicle, a man exited from it and challenged the deputy to a fight.
When both men retreated to their respective vehicles, the suspect, identified as Napoles, retrieved a shotgun and pointed it at Saldana. Saldana fired at Napoles and retreated further beyond his patrol vehicle; Napoles re-entered his vehicle with the shotgun still aimed at the deputy. Saldana continued to fire his service weapon; California Highway Patrol officers soon arrived as backup and found Napoles dead in the back of his vehicle.
The board reviewing the shooting included Chief Deputy Damian Nord, Chief Deputy Larry McCurtain, Chief Deputy James Morrison, and Acting Chief Deputy Avery Simpson.