Finding of “accident” defined
Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston announces that a coroner’s jury has reached a finding in the June 16, 2017 death of Nathan Gregory Banks. The finding of the jury is that the death is an accident.
Antioch police contacted a man and woman inside a car on the 2300 block of Manzanita Way. The man was later identified as Banks. The police officer noticed that Banks was in possession of a handgun. The officer ordered Banks to stay in the car, however, he fled holding the weapon in his hand. During a confrontation, the officer fired his duty weapon at Banks. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The coroner’s jury reached a verdict after hearing the testimony of witnesses called by the hearing officer, Matthew Guichard.
A coroner’s inquest, which Sheriff-Coroner Livingston convenes in fatal incidents involving police officers, is a public hearing, during which a jury rules on the manner of a person’s death. Jury members can choose from the following four options when making their finding: Accident, Suicide, Natural Causes, or At the hands of another person, other than by accident.
According to the obituary on Higgins Mortuary website, “Nathan Gregory Banks (37)” was a “lifelong resident of Antioch born June 11, 1980…a graduate of Antioch High School” and was “an apprentice in the Carpenters Union. He was fiercely loyal, loving, and protective of his family and friends” and “the beloved son of Dawn Marie & John Delucchi of Pittsburg and Greg & Theresa Banks of Antioch.”
He “is survived by his parents, grandparent Nana Peggy Banks, along with aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews and cousins who will dearly miss his sense of humor, smile, and warm heart. Nathan was preceded by his sister Tarah Lynna Banks (2017), and Papa Byron Banks (2013).”
A memorial service was held for him on July 21 at Calvary Temple Church in Concord.
10/13/17 UPDATE: When asked why it was ruled an accident instead of “at the hands of another person, other than by accident” the Sheriff’s Public Information Officer, Jimmy Lee responded, “the inquest, although it is a hearing, is not like a traditional court case. There are no attorneys involved. Individuals directly involved in the case testify. The jury hears the testimony and selects from one of four options.”
“Also a finding of accident does not necessarily mean he (the officer) accidentally fired his service weapon,” he added.
Lee then provided the instructions to the jury which included definitions for each possible finding. The finding of “accident” included the following definition:
ACCIDENT: DEATH BY ACCIDENT CAN REFER TO A VARIETY OF UNFORSEEN OR UNINTENTIONAL EVENTS. SOME OF THOSE INVOLVE NATURAL PHENOMENA, SUCH AS DEATH BY FIRE, FLOOD, OR EARTHQUAKE, IN WHICH NO HUMAN AGENCY IS INVOLVED. ANOTHER SPECIES OF ACCIDENT IS THE KIND WHICH RESULTS FROM HUMAN ACTS OR CONDUCT. DEATH BY ACCIDENT WHERE A HUMAN AGENCY IS INVOLVED IS THUS BEST DEFINED AS THE UNINTENDED OR UNEXPECTED RESULTS OF HUMAN CONDUCT. THE TERM “ACCIDENT” AS IT APPLIES TO THESE PROCEEDINGS IS AN UNFORSEEN EVENT, MISFORTUNE, LOSS, ACT OR OMISSION.
Following are the complete jury instructions and definitions for each possible finding:
OFFICE OF THE CORONER – CONTRA COSTA COUNTY
CORONER’S JURY INSTRUCTIONS
MATTHEW P. GUICHARD, HEARING OFFICER
GUICHARD, TENG & PORTELLO, ATTORNEYS AT LAW
101 YGNACIO VALLEY ROAD, SUITE 112
WALNUT CREEK, CA 94596
TEL: (925) 459-8440 FAX: (925) 459-8445
DATE: October 10, 2017
CORONER’S NUMBER: 2017-2941
INQUEST INTO THE DEATH OF: NATHAN GREGORY BANKS
BORN: June 11, 1980
DIED: June 17, 2017
MEMBERS OF THE JURY: HAVING NOW HEARD THE EVIDENCE, IT BECOMES YOUR DUTY TO RENDER YOUR VERDICT.
YOU ARE THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE JUDGES OF THE EVIDENCE GIVEN TO YOU FROM THE WITNESS STAND, AND FROM THAT EVIDENCE YOU SHOULD STATE IN YOUR VERDICT WHO THE DECEASED WAS, HOW, WHEN AND WHERE HE CAME TO HIS DEATH.
THE LAW PROVIDES THAT YOU SHALL FIND, IN ADDITION TO THE MEDICAL CAUSE OF DEATH, WHAT WAS THE MODE OR MANNER OF THE DECEDENT’S DEATH. TO THAT END, THE LAW PROVIDES THAT YOU MUST FIND WHETHER THE DECEDENT’S DEATH WAS BY:
1. NATURAL CAUSES, or
2. SUICIDE, or
3. ACCIDENT, or
4. AT THE HANDS OF ANOTHER PERSON, OTHER THAN BY ACCIDENT.
EACH MODE OF DEATH IS ALTERNATIVE AND INDEPENDENT OF THE OTHERS, SO THAT YOU CANNOT COMBINE VERDICTS. YOU CANNOT ADD TO ANY OF THE DEFINITIONS. YOU MAY MAKE A SEPARATE COMMENT IF YOU WISH, BUT NOT ON THE VERDICT FORM.
THE FOUR MODES OF DEATH ARE DEFINED AS FOLLOWS:
1. NATURAL CAUSES: DEATH BY NATURAL CAUSES IS SO WELL KNOWN TO ALL OF YOU AS GENERALLY TO REQUIRE NO EXPLANATION. HOWEVER, FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROCEEDING, IT MAY BEST BE DEFINED AS A DEATH ARISING FROM AN ACT OF NATURE AS OPPOSED TO ONE BEING ARTIFICIALLY INDUCED.
2. SUICIDE: SUICIDE IS DEFINED AS AN INTENTIONAL ACT OF SELF-DESTRUCTION BY ONE WITH SUFFICIENT TOUCH WITH REALITY TO UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF HIS ACT. THE FACT ANOTHER PERSON, INCLUDING A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, ACTED AS THE INSTRUMENTALITY OF THE DECEASED SUBJECT’S DEATH, DOES NOT PRECLUDE A FINDING OF SUICIDE, WHEN THE SUBJECT INTENDED TO PRECIPITATE THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AGAINST HIMSELF.
3. ACCIDENT: DEATH BY ACCIDENT CAN REFER TO A VARIETY OF UNFORSEEN OR UNINTENTIONAL EVENTS. SOME OF THOSE INVOLVE NATURAL PHENOMENA, SUCH AS DEATH BY FIRE, FLOOD, OR EARTHQUAKE, IN WHICH NO HUMAN AGENCY IS INVOLVED. ANOTHER SPECIES OF ACCIDENT IS THE KIND WHICH RESULTS FROM HUMAN ACTS OR CONDUCT. DEATH BY ACCIDENT WHERE A HUMAN AGENCY IS INVOLVED IS THUS BEST DEFINED AS THE UNINTENDED OR UNEXPECTED RESULTS OF HUMAN CONDUCT. THE TERM “ACCIDENT” AS IT APPLIES TO THESE PROCEEDINGS IS AN UNFORSEEN EVENT, MISFORTUNE, LOSS, ACT OR OMISSION.
4. AT THE HANDS OF ANOTHER PERSON, OTHER THAN BY ACCIDENT: THAT PHRASE IS ESSENTIALLY SELF-EXPLANATORY. IT IS EITHER AN INTENTIONAL ACT WHICH DIRECTLY CAUSES THE DEATH OF ANOTHER PERSON OR AN INTENTIONAL OMISSION TO ACT WHICH DIRECTLY CAUSES THE DEATH OF ANOTHER PERSON.
YOU SHOULD DETERMINE THE MODE OR MANNER OF DEATH HEREIN BY A MORE LIKELY TRUE THAN NOT TRUE STANDARD. THAT MEANS IN EXAMINING ALL THE EVIDENCE YOU SHOULD DECIDE WHICH MODE OR MANNER OF DEATH OF THE FOUR LISTED MODES IS THE MOST LIKELY TO BE TRUE. THEREFORE, IF YOU SHOULD DETERMINE THAT THE EVIDENCE HEREIN IS MORE CONVINCING, AND CREATES A GREATER PROBABILITY OF TRUTH IN FAVOR OF ONE MODE, THAT MODE SHOULD BE YOUR VERDICT.
IN DETERMINING WHETHER A MODE HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE TRUE, YOU SHOULD CONSIDER ALL THE EVIDENCE BEARING UPON THAT ISSUE. YOU SHOULD ALSO BEAR IN MIND THAT IT IS THE LAW OF CALIFORNIA THAT ALL DEATHS MAY BE DESCRIBED BY ONE OF THE FOUR STATED MODES.
YOUR FINDINGS SHALL NOT INCLUDE NOR MAKE ANY REFERENCE TO CIVIL OR CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY ON THE PART OF THE DECEASED OR ANY OTHER PERSON.
UNDER THE LAW THAT GOVERNS INQUESTS, THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT YOUR VERDICT BE UNANIMOUS. A SIMPLE MAJORITY IS SUFFICIENT.
I HAVE NOT INTENDED BY ANYTHING I HAVE SAID OR DONE, OR BY THE QUESTIONS THAT I HAVE ASKED, TO INTIMATE OR SUGGEST HOW YOU SHOULD DECIDE ANY QUESTIONS OF FACT SUBMITTED TO YOU. IF ANYTHING I HAVE DONE OR SAID HAS SEEMED TO SO INDICATE, YOU WILL DISREGARD IT AND FORM YOUR OWN OPINION.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.