When Santa Clara police responded to a 9-1-1 call on the 2200 block of Deborah Dr. shortly after 5 p.m. last Thursday, it wasn’t the first time that day the officers had been called to that address by parents distraught about their 24-year-old son’s troubling behavior. But this time the call ended in tragedy, when the man was fatally shot after threatening to kill the officers.
Neighbors say that it’s a quiet neighborhood, and last Thursday’s events shattered that quiet, not least of all by media looking for new details of the story.
When the police arrived after the 5 p.m. call time the young man–previously barricaded in his room with a knife and a pistol–had left the house through his window. The police found him near the intersection of Scott Blvd. and Monroe St. The man threatened to kill himself and officers. SCPD Captain Wahid Kazem declined to provide specific information about the young man’s behavior except to say that it was “erratic.”
The police tried to defuse the situation by talking to the man and offering him medical help, which he refused, according to a SCPD news release. Officers tried to subdue him with a Taser, without success. Asked to show his hands, the man repeatedly refused and kept advancing toward Officer Colin Stewart. At this point the officer, afraid for his own safety, fired.
The man was declared dead at the scene. No weapon was found on the man, although a bloody knife was found along the path he had taken. Kazem declined to comment on what else might have been found in the vicinity or at the man’s home. As of press time, the County Coroner hasn’t released the man’s name.
The officer was wearing a body-camera, but that video has not been released because of the ongoing investigation, said Kazem.
“We really want folks to understand the steps we took to diffuse the situation,” said Kazem. “Deadly force is always the last option and one that we don’t come to easily in any situation.”
In keeping with the County’s officer-involved shooting protocol, the investigation is being conducted jointly by the Santa Clara Police Department and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Law enforcement helicopters that neighbors saw at the scene were Sheriff’s Dept. helicopters that were already in the area.
Stewart is a 13-year law enforcement veteran, and has been with the SCPD eight years. He is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure following officer-involved shootings.
Larry Sacks contributed reporting to this story.