Autopsy shows man who charged deputies with knife was shot several times

Saturday, 15 November 2014 02:42 by Elizabeth Larson

(This report originally appeared at

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A man who was fatally shot by two deputies last weekend after he charged them with a knife had seven gunshot wounds, according to an autopsy conducted Thursday.

Christopher Keith O’Neal, 56, of Lucerne died early on Sunday morning, as Lake County News has reported.

Deputies responded to O’Neal’s home on 16th Avenue in Lucerne shortly after 12 a.m. on the report of a domestic disturbance in which O’Neal was said to have been assaulting his wife, according to District Attorney Don Anderson, whose office is conducting the shooting investigation.

O’Neal confronted two Lake County Sheriff’s deputies with a knife in his front yard. Both deputies shot O’Neal, said District Attorney Don Anderson.

The names of the deputies have not yet been released.

On Thursday, an autopsy of O’Neal’s body was conducted in Ukiah, Anderson said.

Anderson said the autopsy revealed that O’Neal was hit a total of seven times – twice in the leg and five times in the chest.

“One deputy shot four times, the other shot six,” Anderson said, who noted that, “they both would have had to hit him.”

On Friday, Anderson did not yet have the full details of O’Neal’s criminal history.

However, he said the investigation so far has revealed that O’Neal had a previous armed encounter with sheriff’s deputies.

In 1997, O’Neal confronted deputies with a knife in downtown Upper Lake, Anderson said.

In that incident, Anderson said deputies pepper sprayed O’Neal before taking him into custody.

Two separate investigations are under way at this point, Anderson said.

His investigators are working on the case as part of the county’s critical incident protocol, which requires Anderson’s office to conduct the inquiry into officer-involved shootings.

He must determine if the shooting was justified or if there was any criminal wrongdoing.

At the same time, the sheriff’s office is conducting an internal affairs investigation, which is confidential. As a result, Anderson said the results of it won’t be communicated to his office.

“They’ll get a copy of our report but we won’t get a copy of theirs,” he explained.

So far, he said his investigators have completed interviews with several witnesses.

Those interviewed include the two deputies and O’Neal’s wife, who were the witnesses to the shooting.

O’Neal’s wife is the only witness to the domestic violence incident, but Anderson said there were witnesses his investigators have interviewed who saw what led to O’Neal’s reported assault on his wife.

The final autopsy report also must still be completed, along with the toxicology report, which will determine if any substances were in O’Neal’s system, Anderson said.

The California Department of Justice will be involved, with Anderson explaining that the agency is going to conduct testing on the deputies’ guns.

“We will take the bullets and try to match them with which gun they came from,” he said.

Anderson estimated it will take about two months to complete the investigation.

“I think this should go fairly quick,” he said.

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