In the early morning hours of June 27, 2013, a team of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies pulled up to the home of Eugene Mallory, an 80-year-old retired engineer living in the rural outskirts of Los Angeles county with his wife Tonya Pate and stepson Adrian Lamos.
The deputies crashed through the front gate and began executing a search warrant for methamphetamine on the property. Detective Patrick Hobbs, a self-described narcotics expert who claimed he “smelled the strong odor of chemicals” downwind from the house after being tipped off to illegal activity from an anonymous informant, spearheaded the investigation.
The deputies announced their presence, and Pate emerged from the trailer where she’d been sleeping to escape the sweltering summer heat of the California desert. Lamos and a couple of friends emerged from another trailer, and a handyman tinkering with a car on the property also gave himself up without resistance. But Mallory, who preferred to sleep in the house, was nowhere to be seen.
Deputies approached the house, and what happened next is where things get murky. The deputies said they announced their presence upon entering and were met in the hallway by the 80-year-old man, wielding a gun and stumbling towards them. The deputies later changed the story when the massive bloodstains on Mallory’s mattress indicated to investigators that he’d most likely been in bed at the time of the shooting. Investigators also found that an audio recording of the incident revealed a discrepancy in the deputies’ original narrative: Before listening to the audio recording, [Sgt. John] Bones believed that he told Mallory to “Drop the gun” prior to the shooting. The recording revealed, however, that his commands to “Drop the gun” occurred immediately after the shooting.