View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

Lawsuit filed in death of man killed during deputy-involved shooting in Canyon Country

Posted: May 20, 2014 6:36 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2014 6:36 p.m.

The family of a man killed during a deputy-involved shooting in Canyon Country in January has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County, a member of the man’s family said Tuesday.

Steven Burke Pettersen, 47, of Canyon Country, was shot multiple times in the upper torso by deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station after reportedly moving toward them with a knife in his hand, according to an incident report released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Speaking from his home in Burbank Tuesday, Pettersen’s stepfather Bruce Albertson confirmed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations, battery, negligence and violations of laws protecting persons with disabilities was filed Friday by Steven Burke Pettersen’s son, Christopher Pettersen.

“We are waiting on information about the shooting ourselves,” Albertson told The Signal Tuesday.

“They (county officials) don’t seem to want to give us any information,”  he said.

The incident began at approximately 8:25 p.m. on Jan. 30 when patrol deputies were flagged down and received reports of a man in the area of Soledad Canyon Road and Shangri-La Drive who was “running in and out of traffic, holding a spear and waving it at passersby on the road,” according to the incident report.

Sheriff’s deputies later located Pettersen — at that point unidentified — standing near the intersection “holding a metal spear and behaving strangely,” according to the report.

At some point during this exchange the first deputy-involved shooting occurred. According to the Sheriff’s Department report, the man appeared unscathed and continued acting erratically.

The deputies then moved back toward their vehicle, at which point the man, a knife now in hand, advanced on them, according to the report.

The suspect was then fired upon and struck multiple times in the upper torso, according to the report.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene and both the weapons were recovered.

No deputies were injured in the incident.

Petterson, a graduate of Hoover High School, served with the U.S. Army as a Sergeant with the 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment at Ft. Benning in Georgia.

According to one of his friends who contacted The Signal, Pettersen regularly sought the medical help of the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt


Verdad: Posted: May 20, 2014 7:47 p.m.

The man was a veteran who served our country. He needed the type of help that the VA is now being exposed for not providing in a timely manner. This local vet needed our help not bullets. For crying out loud couldn't they have tried bean bags or some other method of containment?

Vtown123: Posted: May 21, 2014 9:04 p.m.

When you endanger lives, you aren't going to like the result...

DMeyer: Posted: May 21, 2014 9:55 p.m.

The Obama Veterans Administration is a disgrace and it's treatment or lack thereof of our war weary soldiers is appalling. That being said, I'm sorry this man lost his life but in this instance their is no blame to shed upon others for his willful disregard of the lives and safety of those who were threatened by the actions of Mr. Petterson that January evening. I do not believe we should be writing his survivors a check for this incident. I'm sure his family is sad but they must be relieved that he did not harm or kill any other persons.

Checksum: Posted: May 21, 2014 6:26 a.m.

"The Obama Veterans Administration" is struggling to deal with the mess that Bush swept under the rug after waging two unjust and unnecessary wars with no concern for the consequences.

Unreal: Posted: May 21, 2014 8:33 a.m.

Bush went to Bethesda Hospital when he heard about issues there for Veterans.
He personally went to "see to it" that the situations then were addressed.
Actions speak louder than words Obama.

When are you going to get off the mantra it is Bush’s fault?
Did Bush blame the VA troubles on the past Presidents who got us involved in the Vietnam war. Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower or JFK (who sent the first troops. LBJ made it worse. Nixon inherited the mess and wanted to end it.

Bush never blamed others, he got right in the face of the issue and personally tackled the issue.

missyJk: Posted: May 21, 2014 8:35 a.m.

Both my brothers served in Vietnam they didnt came back wielding a knife at anyone..while this person for whatever reasons may have needed help you dont go after people with a weapon or you face the no paying $$$ out of my taxes for a claim for a stepfather, where were they when he was naked in the road trying to attack people? As for civil rights for the disabled, that was granting those who did NOT have access to government building access. I am all for rights for the DISABLED. I am glad we have gone beyond that and making everything accessible for those in wheelchairs or physically disabled. I am big advocate there. If your mental illness can cause me harm sorry you don't have rights. There are many mental illnesses where they are NO threat to society, to lump the ones that are a threat into those that aren't is a BIG injustice to those that have mental illness and further the stigma many are trying to get out of

Unreal: Posted: May 21, 2014 8:53 a.m.

If a Veteran has a mental injury from serving his or her country than they deserve our help. They do NOT give up their rights because of behavior that is caused by the injury.

This situation was very sad for many in SCV. Many of us commented at the time (even before we knew he was a veteran) that it seemed weird that they could not find another way to subdue this guy.

If I shot at him I would stop when I see he is shot and down. I would not continue shooting (or have multiple shooters) until he was dead. There is no reason to "over kill". If this is policy than it needs to be reviewed and changed to better serve our citizens who have mental impairment. This could be your brother or father.

I hope the family gets the answers they deserve. I hope that Steven has finally found peace.

stray: Posted: May 21, 2014 8:56 a.m.

@ Bruce Albertson - "We are waiting on information about the shooting ourselves"

Let me help you with that information. Your stepson, according to witnesses at the scene, said they saw your stepson in the center divider at the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Shangri-La Drive walking and running up and down the median with a hockey stick “running in and out of traffic, holding a spear and waving it at passersby on the road. When deputies arrived at the scene, your stepson, the suspect, reportedly ignored verbal orders from those deputies and struck a vehicle passing nearby with the spear. Our deputies attempted to get him to drop his hockey stick and surrender, but he refused. They then fired a shot, but your stepson appeared unconcerned, but then grabbed his concealed knife. The deputies then moved back toward their vehicle, at which point your stepson, with a knife now in hand, advanced on them. Your stepson was then fired upon and struck multiple times in the upper torso.

Now, if you and your family attorney need more information, you both can find out the rest of the information when the district attorney informs you in court when your frivolous case proceeds.

Our Sheriff's Dept did EXACTLY what they are instructed to do - Protect and Serve - .... They gave your stepson every chance to drop his weapons, and he refused. There are plenty of witnesses that stepped forward who saw the incident right before their eyes. Everyone of those witnesses statements all coincide.

I feel bad that your stepson was an Army Veteran and he lost his life over this. But obviously, he did not get the necessary help he needed. Perhaps, you and your lawyer can address your issues to the Veterans Administration and PROVE to them that they did not provide the necessary help your stepson needed and deserved... Your filing charges against the WRONG agency - our Deputies DID NOTHING WRONG - they tried to calm the situation, but your stepson refused and approached them with weapons. End of story...

Now, Mr. Albertson and attorney, you can direct your attention towards the VA Medical Facility... Obama needs to be in the spotlight over this VA scandal because he did NOTHING to improve the situation which GEORGE BUSH warned him about...


garyr: Posted: May 21, 2014 9:17 a.m.

"Our Sheriff's Dept did EXACTLY what they are instructed to do"

That is exactly the point and is why those doing the instructing are the target of the suit rather than the individual officers.

DMeyer: Posted: May 21, 2014 9:30 a.m.


Thanks for recap,...if I may add one tidbit of information....if my memory serves me correctly Mr. Petterson was only wearing his underwear, or was only partially clad during this bizarre encounter, and it was a cold January night. Even more evidence that the deputies were dealing with a deranged individual who was out of his mind.

SReilly12: Posted: May 21, 2014 9:41 a.m.

Anyone think Obamacare will be any different that what is going on with the Vets??? Think again!!! BHO has done nothing but increase the Vets budget, which I'm sure covered all those bonus's paid out.

Had proper treatment been rendered to this man maybe he would still be alive, but to blame LE is just crazy with grief talk.

Going to be an interesting weekend.........think BHO will finally address this situation given the fact it's Memorial weekend?!?!

Sam2222: Posted: May 21, 2014 9:46 a.m.

What is the protocol when someone is shot and the person needs to be transported to the hospital? Is it different when a suspect is shot vs an officer or innocent bystander? When my daughter had asked the questions I think I answered her incorrectly.

I am grateful that no officers or innocent persons were injured.

Unreal: Posted: May 21, 2014 11:01 a.m.

Steven was killed by the war. It just took a long time.

ricketzz: Posted: May 21, 2014 11:11 a.m.

They could have just locked the doors and kept him busy until a Taser arrived. It would have worked real well if he was naked.

garyr: Posted: May 21, 2014 11:28 a.m.

There were almost certainly a taser and a bean bag gun on the site already.

DMeyer: Posted: May 21, 2014 11:38 a.m.

Or next time they could just call for the arm chair experts, there seems to be plenty of those around.

garyr: Posted: May 21, 2014 11:45 a.m.

Actually a friend of mine was LAPD for many years. He says he *always* had a bean bag gun in the trunk and it was the first thing he would grab in this type of situation. Before the taser since the bean bag knocked down large crazed violent men more reliably.

Unreal: Posted: May 21, 2014 1:33 p.m.

I remember commenting at the time of the killing that I thought the dept. should look at having more alternatives in the car itself. The bean bag gun would be a great option to have at the ready. Too many mentally ill persons and kids being killed by over eager or adrenaline fueled deputies. I don't know if that was the case here. I am just asking the questions

If the kneejerk reaction is to always side with law enforcement (a view I myself used to have) then we will not be doing our job as citizens of overseeing the dept. When the public turns a blind eye to issues than things can get really ugly and power can run amuck.

stray: Posted: May 21, 2014 2:48 p.m.

@checksum - "The Obama Veterans Administration is struggling with the mess that BUSH swept under the rug"

What a cheap shot! Let me throw in my two cents now that you inserted politics into this!

How 'bout this "checksum" ... This is a more appropriate quote: "The Obama administration is struggling repeatedly over their ineptness and cannot do ANYTHING correctly." Let's see... Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS scandal, now this VA scandal - ALL UNDER OBAMAs WATCH.

Simply amazing! What a leader! But wait! Obama's repeated pitch ALWAYS claims he didn't know ANYTHING about it and it will be thoroughly investigated and people will be held accountable! How can a "leader" be so unaware of his surroundings ?!?!?!? Got news, he's the most informed person on the planet. He has advisors for EVERYTHING! What a wimp!

From day one, Obama has blamed EVERYBODY else for ALL the issues he's been faced with - and he will NEVER admit his weaknesses! Pansy! No wonder Putin laughs at this Bozo!

Thanks "checksum" for blaming Bush and bringing politics into this thread! Now that you did, I reciprocated and countered!

DMeyer: Posted: May 21, 2014 3:01 p.m.

Uh excuse me stray but Obama has already ruled that their is "not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS", even before the investigation began! And not only that, we all get 2,500.00 bucks due to the savings that Obamacare has brought us, of course I still haven't got that check yet, but I'm sure it's still in the mail.

stray: Posted: May 21, 2014 3:42 p.m.

@DMeyer - "Obama has already ruled that there is 'not a smidgen of corruption at the IRS'"

Wow, what powerful words "not a smidgen of corruption" with the IRS !!! We should ALL believe EVERYTHING he says! :) After all, he's the Messiah within his Muslim faith!

I am also waiting patiently for that $2500 check! After all, I want to stimulate the sluggish economy and purchase a bunch of goodies with it!

garyr: Posted: May 21, 2014 4:08 p.m.

Excuse me, but what does this BENGHAZIIII!!!! echo chamber BS have to do with anything?

DMeyer: Posted: May 21, 2014 4:36 p.m.

garyr=another hopeless Obama apologist.

I was stupid enough to vote for BHO the first time. Not the second time....I ain't the brightest bulb in the world but at least I'll eventually 'get it'. Some people never get it.

stray: Posted: May 21, 2014 4:54 p.m.

Let me correct myself... I meant to say "I want to stimulate OBAMAs sluggish economy that he just can't get going 6 years later!" That's ANOTHER serious matter UNDER HIS WATCH that he's responsible for! THAT proves his ineptness at ANYTHING that's under his watch. There are so many ways that he could have "jump started" this economy by listening to the professionals who know how to help out small businesses, with tax break incentives, which create American jobs - but NO, he chose to do things HIS way... Instead, he concentrated on the useless healthcare mandate, while by-passing Congress on other matters that should NOT be executed under Presidental Powers, and is now concentrating on making 12 million illegals citizens! Wow, what an agenda to do things his way!

If he would have paid attention to the Veterans Affairs, we wouldn't have all these heroes, our veterans, mumbling in the streets. This Sheriff incident, along with all other incidents across the country concerning the mentally disturbed, should NOW BE TOP PRIORITY to adddress and FIX once and for ALL...

Btw, what is Obama doing for our active duty marine who has PTSD and traveled into Mexico accidently and is now is prison? Answer: Nothing!

Thanks again "checksum" !!! Your comments prompted me, once again, to "RAG" on this inept buffoon on Pennsylvania Avenue that doesn't tend to the most serious issues on hand! Another Jimmy Carter for sure!

@Gary - "What does this BENGHAZIIII!!!! echo chamber BS have to do with anything?"

Gary - it is called "ineptness" within the Administration under Obozo's watch! HAD he been on top of things, with ALL the pleas from our Ambassador for SECURITY at that compound in Benghazi - because of ALL the terrorist threats - our Ambassador and 3 others would still be with us! We're just demonstrating that Obama is NOT a LEADER that he claims to be. And this VA scandal while NOT providing the care for our veterans is a direct result of his inept Administration. Maybe this guy, Patterson would still be here today had he been given the proper treatment!

garyr: Posted: May 21, 2014 5:59 p.m.

So.... A large group of our local sheriffs shot an angry incoherent semi-naked local guy with a hockey stick to death because ---- BENGHAZI!!!!!!!

Really? That's honestly what you think happened? Seriously? It's like trying to have a conversation with those Boku Haram guys. At some point we are just not living in the same universe and conversation is impossible.

Rocketeer: Posted: May 21, 2014 6:16 p.m.

"Steven was killed by the war. It just took a long time."
You don't know that. Did he have mental issues unrelated to his service? Would this have happened if he weren't a veteran? There's no way to know. We do know that millions of veterans have returned home from war and lived happy productive lives. We also know that plenty of people who never served have mental problems; apparently a number of them write comments in the Signal.

Speaking of which, I can't help but be amused by the Liberal's latest tactic. Now that they've completely run out of even remotely plausible lies about what happened in Libya they've decided to shout "Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!" whenever anyone tries to criticise Lord Obama. Implicit in that is "how _dare_ you insist on holding our Messiah accountable for his actions?!"

Just surreal how these people can continue to blame everything on a man who's been out of office for five years while simultaneously saying "Benghazi? Dude, that was two years ago! Why do you keep bringing up old stuff?"

stray: Posted: May 21, 2014 6:26 p.m.

@garyr - "Our local sheriffs shot an angry incoherent semi-naked local guy with a hockey stick to death because ---- BENGHAZI!!!"

Gary, you're helpless, lost and VERY confused ... I won't even waste my time responding with a rebuttal!

stray: Posted: May 21, 2014 6:32 p.m.

@Rocketeer - "We also know that plenty of people who never served have mental problems; apparently a number of them write comments in the Signal"

Now that's foooken hilarious!!! :)

I've been saying that to myself for quite a while now!

JRR869: Posted: May 21, 2014 6:34 p.m.

For all the monday morning quarterbacks that are throwing out the "taser" defense, I give you some real facts about the taser. Its max effective range is 15 feet. The average untrained (not army ranger high or suffering severe mental break down) can cover a distance of over 40ft faster than an officer can unholster a firearm and get rounds downrange.

Also if the deputies had stood around waiting for more resources this guy could have killed or injured someone. It is sad he died, but it is not the sheriff's departments fault. Its an incredibly tragic incident that was precipitated by the acts of the individual who is now dead, the deputies didn't set out that night to kill this guy, but they were put in a situation where they had no other choice.

It is bad enough they have to live with the fact they were forced to kill someone imagine how much worse they would feel knowing they had the capacity to stop this guy from killing or hurting another and chose to do nothing....

stray: Posted: May 21, 2014 6:44 p.m.

@JRR -

VERY well stated! I'm glad to see we have several sane, intelligent people on this thread... I was beginning to worry there for a while!

garyr: Posted: May 21, 2014 6:53 p.m.

real facts about bean bag guns?

JRR869: Posted: May 21, 2014 7:22 p.m.

Very Simple LASD doesn't carry bean bag guns in patrol cars (supervisors carry less lethal weapons), also to deploy them you have to open the trunk, unlock (using a key) the beanbag gun from the rack (it is a standard Remington 870 shotgun loaded with less lethal rounds) then deploy it all this while a dude is running around with a knife / spear going after people.....doesn't always work...usually the second or third unit arriving gets a bean bag to use against a suspect like this...and even then if someone is high enough or crazed enough it doesn't stop them.

garyr: Posted: May 21, 2014 8:07 p.m.

So that would have taken 30-45 seconds to get it from the trunk? This guy wasn't 10 seconds away from mass mayhem. And if LASD doesn't carry them -- WTF not? Even the 870 I often see clamped to the dashboard with a non magnum load of birdshot is better at stopping and less lethal than the force they actually deployed.

It's a guy with a hockey stick and a kitchen knife. Not someone with explosives strapped to his chest with a deadman switch

CaptGene: Posted: May 22, 2014 9:21 p.m.

Sorry you guys are not happy about the armchair quarterbacking here, but since the Sheriffs work for us, and we give them guns, it is our right and our duty to question it when they kill someone who is not similarly armed.

If any of you that don't like that are in law enforcement, I suggest you find a job in retail.

DMeyer: Posted: May 22, 2014 9:39 p.m.

garyr's stance on the way this incident played out: They didn't have to use real guns and kill him, they should've have used bean bag shotguns, tasers or magic to subdue him.

What garyr's stance would be had the crazed man armed with a knife killed someone else while the deputies hesitated to take action: How come none of the deputies stopped the crazed man before he was able to kill that lady? Isn't that why they have guns, for instances like this?

Right garyr?

chefgirl358: Posted: May 22, 2014 8:19 a.m.

Stray and DMeyer...totally agree with all of your comments here.
You echoed my thoughts exactly and Stray, I loved your recap of the incident...that is exactly as I remember reading the facts from the story as well. There's no big secret cover up here, it was in public with tons of witnesses and was pretty obvious what was happening, not sure what the family is "waiting" to find out.

stray: Posted: May 22, 2014 1:45 p.m.

@chef - "Totally agree with all of your comments here"

Thanks for your support!

Unreal: Posted: May 22, 2014 2:08 p.m.

JRR869: As I have said already the dept. needs to change their training and make less lethal weapons available (not in trunk) for use in regular cruisers.

Also the policy that multiple shooters need to pepper a person with shots needs to be looked at as well.

Rick54: Posted: May 25, 2014 1:07 a.m.

I think the officers should have taken the time to flip a coin to decide who takes the shot. Would that work for some armchair sheriffs out there? I hope I get called for jury duty soon.

You need to be a registered user to post a comment. Please click here to register.

The Signal encourages readers to interact with one another, following the guidelines outlined in our Comment/Moderation Policy. Click here to read it.

To report offensive or inappropriate comments, e-mail The content posted from readers of does not necessarily represent the views of The Signal or Morris Multimedia. By submitting this form you agree to the terms and conditions listed above. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...