Editor’s note: The following story contains graphic content.
The mentally ill man who killed San Luis Obispo police Det. Luca Benedetti in 2021 had amassed a cache of guns and ammunition before he essentially ambushed officers as they tried to serve a search warrant at his apartment, three new reports show.
The reports, which uphold officers’ actions in the incident, reveal previously unreleased details about the events that led up to the shooting and what happened on May 10, 2021.
They were released on Wednesday in response to a public records act request filed by The Tribune, the same day that San Luis Obispo police posted video of the shooting that showed that Edward Giron fired first after officers broke down the door and attempted to serve the warrant.
The video, which police Chief Rick Scott called “deeply disturbing,” comes more than two years after the incident at the complex on Camellia Court that also injured Det. Steve Orozco and only ended when a gravely wounded Giron retreated into his apartment and shot himself with Benedetti’s rifle.
The reports were produced by the SLO County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office and Cuesta Polygraph Investigations, which conducted an internal affairs investigation.
The internal affairs report concluded that although no formal briefing was held prior to carrying out the search warrant, officers acted within policy in regards to their response to Giron as an active shooter.
The District Attorney’s Office also found the actions of Det. Orozco and Officer Joseph Hurni — the two officers who fired at Giron — to be justified and said there is no need for criminal charges against them.
The Tribune obtained the reports after filing a public records request in May 2022. The city delayed releasing the records until all agencies involved completed their investigations.
Man who killed detective had multiple guns, report shows
Perhaps the most significant new detail in the case is that Giron, who had a history of mental illness that included 14 reports to or interactions with police, had armed himself with six guns that were discovered inside his apartment after the incident, none of which were legally registered to him, according to the sheriff’s and internal affairs reports.
Among them were a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun that detectives found on the couch in the living room and a Crossman Pumpmaster .177-caliber pellet gun that was leaning against the couch next to the front door.
The Remington shotgun was identified as the weapon used to shoot Benedetti, before Giron dropped it and grabbed the detective’s rifle. It was found with the safety off and three rounds inside, though none were loaded in the chamber.
A 12-gauge Remington shotgun shell was also found in the living room and matched the ammunition found inside Giron’s pockets. It’s believed to be the shot that killed Benedetti.
Four other 12-gauge shotgun shells were found on the ground below the apartment, all believed to have been fired by Giron. Two of those shots are believed to have hit Orozco.
Blood was also detected on the barrel of the shotgun, the report said.
Inside Giron’s bedroom, detectives also recovered a Remington 870 express shotgun, a Remington 582 bolt action rifle and several shotgun rounds and ammunition.
Two more guns were found inside Giron’s closet — a Winchester 67 bolt action rifle and Harington Topper M48 single-shot shotgun.
One .223-caliber bullet casing was also found in Giron’s living room. The casing is consistent with the ammunition inside Benedetti’s rifle, and is believed to be from the shot Giron inflicted on himself using the detective’s gun.
Four other .223 casings that appear to be from Benedetti’s rifle were found in the vicinity of the second-floor landing, the report said. These casings are belived to be from shots fired by Giron at Hurni using Benedetti’s rifle.
Seven 9-millimeter bullet casings were found at the scene from Orozco’s gun, while 17 .223 bullet casings were believed to be from Hurni’s gun.
Detective may not have seen shooter before being killed, report says
The Sheriff’s Office report details exactly what transpired on the day of the shooting, beginning with officers who were serving the search warrant attempting to call Giron several times before they decided to knock on the door.
As they arrived on the landing of the second-floor unit, Benedetti ran “point” for the group, meaning he was first in line to make contact with Giron and enter the apartment.
The detectives knocked on the door several times, the report said, but got no response. They then attempted to use a key from the property manager, but it didn’t work.
The officers were eventually given the green light to forcibly enter the apartment, the report said.
Benedetti began knocking again, the report said, then reminded the only officer wearing a body camera to turn it on.
Once the camera was on, Benedetti knocked on the front door again, announcing, “Police Department, search warrant, open the door or we’re gonna force entry,” “Edward, open the door,” and “Edward, it’s the Police Department, open the door.”
As before, all were met with no response, the report said.
Benedetti then stepped to the side while an unknown detective used a battering ram to smash open the door. That officer stepped out of the way, the report said, and Benedetti moved back to the front to peer inside the apartment.
“Edward, come out here,” Benedetti said, according to the body camera video.
Giron did not respond.
The front door began to close, the report said, and Benedetti used his left hand to push it open while trying to look inside the apartment.
Seconds later, a gunshot rang out, and Benedetti’s head “jerked back while the baseball hat he was wearing flew off” as he “immediately fell to the ground,” according to the report.
The unknown detective told the Sheriff’s Office he saw the bullet hit Benedetti’s head before he even heard the gunshot.
“I see the bullet traveling and see it go in the lower part of his face,” the detective said in the report. “In a tenth of a second, Luca was alive, and a tenth of a second later, he was dead.”
The detective does not think Benedetti saw Giron’s gun before he was shot, adding that Benedetti’s safety on his own rifle was not flicked off yet.
Benedetti suffered a gunshot to the right side of his face, right eye socket and right ear, the report said. His cause of death was ruled to be from a penetrating gunshot wound to the head, which is believed to have killed him in minutes.
The detective did not have other injuries, according to the report.
Officer fired at active shooter 17 times, report said
After Benedetti was hit, officers turned to run down the stairs and find cover. As Orozco reached the bottom and began to turn, he was shot in the right side of his upper body.
The Sheriff’s Office report says Giron shot Orozco with a shotgun bird shot.
Orozco continued to run west into a grass yard, the report said, then tripped and fell to the ground. As he began to get up, Giron again fired the shotgun at Orozco.
A piece of the shot hit Orozco in the back of the head, the report said, while the ammunition itself missed “by a matter of inches.”
Orozco was able to stand up and run for cover behind dumpsters. Then, the report said, he pulled his handgun from his holster.
According to the report, Orozco saw Giron standing on the balcony wearing a green shirt and holding a rifle with both hands. Orozco, fearing for his life, returned fired at Giron.
Giron then fired two shotgun shots at Sgt. Aaron Schafer, who was supervising the investigation. The shots missed the sergeant and hit a nearby red Toyota Tundra truck and Toyota Corolla.
Hurni then got his rifle and saw Giron “aggressing” the south end of the landing with his rifle aimed at Hurni, the report said. When Giron pointed his gun at Hurni, the report said, Hurni thought Giron was going to “kill him” and shot at Giron 17 times, which is captured in the video released by police.
Hurni said he could hear other gunshots but could not tell who was firing them, the report said.
In a later interview, Hurni said Giron was an “active shooter, active killer and active murderer who had made it clear through his actions that he was going to kill as many people as he could.”
At the same time Hurni was shooting at Giron, Orozco told Det. Marissa Womack that he believed Giron was “gonna shoot us until he can get as many of us as he can,” the report said. “He’s not gonna stop.”
Orozco fired six shots at Giron through the entire incident. Giron was hit in his right chest, abdomen, left hand and left lower leg before he fled back inside his apartment.
A few minutes later, the report said, a single shot was heard coming from inside the building.
“It is believed this was the final shot fired by Giron with Benedetti’s rifle and possibly the self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the report said.
In total, Giron fired five to six rounds from Benedetti’s rifle at officers in addition to the final self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Giron was found on the floor of the apartment with a fatal gunshot wound to the head. A hole also was found in the floor where Giron’s head was resting, into the apartment below, where the expended shot was discovered beneath the carpet of that unit’s living room.
Giron’s cause of death was ruled to be a single perforating rifle wound to the head, which is believed to have killed him instantly, the report said. Multiple gunshot wounds and pellet injuries to the head, trunk and extremities are listed as significant conditions that contributed to his death.
Medical records show Orozco suffered multiple abrasions to the left scalp, small penetrating wounds to his right lateral back, buckshot wounds to his right lateral back and multiple penetrating wounds to the soft tissue of his upper arm and lateral shoulder.
Mentally ill man reported missing twice before shootout, report says
The reports also detail Giron’s mental instability and his interactions with law enforcement in the months leading up to May 10, 2021.
From March 2020 to January 2021, the sheriff’s report said, 14 instances occurred in which Giron was reported to or contacted by law enforcement, three of which noted he possibly owned a gun.
In July 2020, an anonymous caller asked the San Luis Obispo Police Department to perform a welfare check on Giron, reporting that Giron was showing signs of mania and paranoia. The woman also said Giron was “very skeptical of police and may want to harm them,” the report said.
The department followed up on the call, and the caller told police Giron believes police are his enemy and may be antagonized by a law enforcement response. She also said Giron may have a firearm or shotgun.
An officer then called Giron, but Giron said he was not suicidal, did not want to harm others and did not want assistance from law enforcement.
It does not appear police made in-person contact with Giron regarding this call.
In an interview after the shooting, a person told investigators that Giron said “I’ll totally shoot police,” in July 2020. It’s unclear if the person interviewed was the same or a different person from the anonymous caller.
On Oct. 18, 2020, an unnamed caller reported Giron missing and said he “could be suicidal.” It was later learned that he had been rescued by the Coast Guard in Avila Beach, the report said, which his mother believed was a suicide attempt.
A few days later on Oct. 22, 2020, Giron’s property manager reported to police that they were concerned Giron had a weapon inside the apartment without the property manager’s permission, but the manager did not find anything suspicious.
An anonymous caller also reported Giron missing that same day, saying his mental health was declining and they believed he owned guns.
Then, on Nov. 7, 2020, Giron was interviewed by the Nogales Police Department in Arizona after arriving at the port of entry on a Mexican bus. He was determined to be a missing person, and no more action was taken. It’s unclear what Giron was doing in Mexico.
On Jan. 8, 2021, a neighbor called asking SLOPD to do a welfare check on Giron because he was screaming and crying on his balcony with music “blasting” while exhibiting “erratic” behavior, the report said. Giron would not speak with the responding officers, who said his behavior was “bizarre” but not enough to be put on an involuntary psychiatric hold.
Detective ‘unaware’ of Giron’s mania, despite law enforcement reports
According to the internal affairs report, Det. Womack was tasked with backgrounding Giron ahead of the search warrant operation. She discovered all of his past contacts with law enforcement, the report said, and shared the information with Orozco, particularly the missing persons reports and a report of possible gun ownership.
Despite reports from callers, Womack found that Giron did not have any guns legally registered in his name.
Womack “did not believe there were any areas of significant concern that needed to be documented in the operations plan” after reviewing the information she found of Giron’s prior contacts with law enforcement, the report said.
She later told internal affairs that at the time she made the operations plan, she was unaware of reports of Giron acting manic, and if she was aware, she would have included it in the plan.
Womack told internal affairs the plan was to detain Giron as soon as he stepped outside his apartment, but they were not expecting to arrest him during the warrant service at his residence.
Orozco told internal affairs he was concentrating on carrying out the search warrant and did not know any prior details of Giron’s history with mental health and law enforcement or whether Giron had guns registered to him at the time the warrant was carried out.
There was no formal briefing prior to attempting to serve the warrant, Orozco told internal affairs, and he did not review the operations plan. Orozco did know the operational process and objectives for the search warrant, the report said.
According to the sheriff’s report, Benedetti had discussions with an unnamed detective about tactics to use if Giron exited the apartment and “the fact they were going to detain him.”
“Both knew Orozco was only authoring a search warrant and not an arrest warrant at the time,” the sheriff’s report said.
The internal affairs report only addressed the actions by the officers who discharged their weapons, Orozco and Hurni, who were found to be within policy regarding their response that day.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the deadly force used by Orozco and Hurni was necessary and justified as self-defense or defense of another against deadly force.
“No criminal charges are warranted against either of them,” the District Attorney’s report said.
An individual can use deadly force to defend themselves or another against unprovoked and imminent threat of death or great bodily injury, the report said.
After the shooting, Orozco and Hurni justifiably saw Giron as an imminent threat, the report found, because both had witnessed Giron shoot Benedetti, and Orozco had been shot twice himself.
To view the full response to The Tribune’s public records request, click here.
How to get help
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a certified listener, call 988.
You can also call the Central Coast Hotline at 800-783-0607 for 24-7 assistance. To learn the warning signs of suicide, visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org