A Chino police officer who killed a bystander she mistook for an armed robbery suspect was legally justified, despite her tragic error, prosecutors wrote in a report. Cpl. Claudia Lisner shot Daniel Balandran, a 23-year-old Rubidoux resident, outside a Papa John’s pizzeria on Feb. 1, 2009. The victim happened to leave a nearby McDonald’s with a friend and walk into a shootout between police and two men who had robbed the Papa John’s. Balandran was wearing a black shirt, like one of the suspects and came from the general area where shots had been fired. Lisner said she believed Balandran and his friend were the ones exchanging fire with her colleagues on the other side of the pizzeria. In a poorly lit parking lot, Balandran continued to approach her and then ducked behind a car. When he emerged, Lisner noticed him holding something. She said she asked him to show his hands but he did not, according to the report. . The victim “suddenly turned” with the item, the prosecutor noted. Still hearing gunfire, and believing she was in danger, Lisner shot Balandran once in the chest. Under all the circumstances, her “split second” decision was reasonable and legal according to the DA. The item turned out to be a McDonald’s food container.
While the officer won’t face any criminal charges or discipline, the actual armed robbery suspects — gang members from Los Angeles — await trial on 14 felonies, including the murder of Balandran. They are being charged with murder in the death of Balandran under the “Felony-Murder Rule” which holds that if a killing occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a felony the person or persons responsible for the felony can be charged with murder. The reasoning behind the rule is that since the person committing the felony created a dangerous situation that resulted in death, they are responsible for the death despite the fact that they didn’t “pull the trigger” so to speak. Here, the DA theory is that the killing of Blandran occurred during the commission of the robbery of the Papa John’s and those responsible for the robbery are responsible for Balandran’s murder.
The felony murder rule has always been a controversial legal concept and highlights the importance of having a competent criminal defense attorney anytime you or a loved one are charged with murder. The highly-qualified attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have the legal expertise to fight any type of criminal case in California. Call us now for a free phone consultation. We’ll be there when you call.