By Jim Tortolano
The man killed by a Huntington Beach police officer on Sept. 22 after a struggle was the killer of an elderly man three days earlier, Police Chief Robert Handy and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced at a press conference Tuesday morning.
Video footage and DNA evidence has established that Dillan Tabares, 27, of Huntington Beach, was the man who fatally beat Richard Darland, 80, also of Huntington Beach on Sept. 19, they said. The incident occurred around 5:11 p.m. in the 7800 block of Ellis Avenue, near Beach Boulevard.
Addressing the news media in a room adjacent to the Huntington Beach City Council chambers, the two law enforcement officials laid out how the two incidents were connected and why they believe that the young man was the killer of the older man.
“This is one of the most brutal and heinous deaths any of us have ever seen,” said Handy. He recited the injuries inflicted on Darland – mostly by hand – as including a broken back, broken neck, broken ribs and facial bones, a fractured skull and internal organ damage.
The investigation that followed turned up Tavares’ name and number in Darland’s cell phone. Detectives determined that Darland had befriended the homeless Tabares, allowing him to sleep on his property, use his shower and his computer, and sought to get the younger man other assistance.
Video footage obtained from area sources placed Tabares near the scene of the homicide both before and after the incident. One frame from the video showed Tavares walking on Beach Boulevard north of Ellis at 4:57 p.m., minutes before the attack on Darland. At 5:10 p.m., Tabares is seen near Darland’s house. At 6 p.m. video shows him apparently having changed his shirt, with wet hair, carrying a pack of socks. “Appearing that he possibly cleaned up,” suggested Handy.
But before investigators could compile this evidence, Tabares was fatally shot by a HBPD officer in an altercation outside a convenience store at 6012 Edinger Ave.
Tabares had been arrested by the HBPD a total of 12 times, since 2014. Charges included alcohol and drug violations, possession of a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest causing serious injury, battery causing serious injury and other violations of probation, said Handy.
The last time that Tabares was arrested was on a warrant for felony battery earlier in the year. On March 29, he was sentenced to two years in prison, but was released on Sept. 14, five days before the homicide.
An HBPD officer tried to speak to Tabares on an “unrelated matter” on Sept. 22. According to Handy, Tabares attacked the officer, an altercation that ended when the policemen shot Tabares seven times. That shooting is still under investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
Why did Tabares attack the officer? It “may have been motivated by Tabares’ desire to avoid going back to prison,” suggested Handy. There was a warrant for his arrest in a case not connected to the homicide.
Investigators determined that Tabares was wearing the same pants and shoes at the time of his death that he wore three days before. The Orange County Crime Lab took samples from those garments and found evidence that some of the blood on his clothing was not the same as that shed by Tabares when shot. “The evidence was overwhelming,” said Handy, connecting the two deaths.
Rackauckas said the release of Tabares from prison after serving about five months of a two-year sentence was “the result of the reduction of sentencing that we’ve been going through here in this state for the last three or four years now.
“With AB 309 and Prop 47 and Prop 57, they all come together to release people at an early time. The claim or the thought is that they are only going to be non-violent people that are released, but that, of course, is not what happens.”
He urged citizens to “push back” on the new sentencing rules, some of which had been approved by voters in an effort to ease prison crowding and trim penalties for minor drug violations.
Categories: Huntington Beach