Mourners placed a picture of Brian Tacadena in his younger years at the site where he was killed.

Paul Wellman

Mourners placed a picture of Brian Tacadena in his younger years at the site where he was killed.

Fatal Police Shooting Deemed ‘Justifiable Homicide’

DA Releases Report on Confrontation Between Officer and Brian Tacadena

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
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There are two very different interpretations of the violent scene that unfolded this fall when a Santa Barbara police officer shot and killed Brian Tacadena on De la Vina Street.

The District Attorney’s Office released a report Friday that calls the shooting a “justifiable homicide” and details how a night patrol officer confronted an aggressive man high on drugs who refused orders to drop a large knife he was carrying as he approached the officer. Members of Tacadena’s family, however, claim that Brian’s death was an example of police brutality, that the 46-year-old was mentally ill and could have been subdued with nonlethal force, and that the DA’s report contains major holes.

Tacadena took a bus from San Jose that arrived in Santa Barbara at approximately 7:00 p.m. on September 1, the report reads. He planned to stay with his sister in Santa Maria and later visit his daughter in Goleta, and records show he had just moved out of a residential treatment facility in Santa Clara County, where he was on probation for confronting a man in public with a knife. Not long after he arrived on the South Coast, Tacadena — on a medication that treats schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — texted his daughter, “I’m dead.”

Between 7 and 9:45 p.m., Tacadena’s whereabouts are unknown, until a witness walking her dog saw him in the area of Castillo Street and Anapamu Street, angrily talking to himself and saying things like, “You mother fucker, now you did it.” A coroner’s report would later reveal that Tacadena had a large amount of methamphetamine in his system at the time, more than 10 times the amount typically found in an “average” meth user.

Police say Tacadena was wielding this military-style survival knife as he strode toward the officer.
Click to enlarge photo


Police say Tacadena was wielding this military-style survival knife as he strode toward the officer.

At around 10 p.m., the same witness observed Tacadena “ranting and raving” on Bath Street, the report reads. The witness called 9-1-1 but officers were unable to locate Tacadena. At approximately 11:25 p.m., another witness saw an agitated Tacadena “looking in parked cars and up into people’s windows” and told authorities he was “in fear for his safety.” Other witnesses (none of them are named in the document) reported similar sightings to authorities.

Just minutes later, the report states, the patrol officer observed Tacadena and reported to dispatch, “I’ll be diverted, 1300 De la Vina Street on a man with a knife. I have one at gunpoint. Can I get a code three cover?” (“Code three cover” is an emergency request for other officers to respond to the scene with lights and sirens. Authorities have declined to release the name of the involved officer, citing a fear of retaliation because of Tacadena’s known gang ties.)

According to the DA’s Office, the officer stopped his cruiser, backed up from Tacadena, exited the car, and ordered Tacadena to stop and drop his knife. Tacadena reportedly refused, instead putting down his two backpacks and walking at “a quick pace” directly toward the officer. When the officer yelled for him to stop (four witnesses described him shouting, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!”) Tacadena responded by saying something of the effect of: “I know you will.” When The Santa Barbara Independent interviewed area residents immediately following the shooting, one man corroborated the DA’s statements, saying the incident appeared to him to be a “suicide by cop.”

As Tacadena walked toward the officer, he fired five .40 caliber shots from his Smith & Wesson handgun, striking Tacadena once in the upper chest and severing his aorta. Tacadena was 66 feet away from the officer when first confronted, the report reads, and he was hit when he was approximately 12-15 away. The other four shots struck a wall and tree across the street and a retaining wall behind Tacadena.

Authorities discovered a small bag of methamphetamine hidden in the handle of Tacadena's knife
Click to enlarge photo


Authorities discovered a small bag of methamphetamine hidden in the handle of Tacadena’s knife

Only the beginning of the confrontation was caught on camera. Surveillance video from the front of a building on Victoria Street (which doesn’t include sound) shows the officer stop his car and illuminate Tacadena with a spotlight before Tacadena turned to face the officer and walked toward him. The report states that the patrol car’s video system wasn’t working at the time. Other cruiser cameras show the aftermath of the shooting, including the recovery of Tacadena’s military-style survival knife, which had 0.2 grams of meth hidden in the handle.

In its finding of “justifiable homicide,” the DA’s Office cites the “21-foot rule,” a rough guideline that states that when an officer is defending himself from a knife or other edged weapon, a distance of 21 feet “is necessary in order to effectively stop the threat of injury or death by that suspect.” Police spokesperson Sgt. Riley Harwood explained the cruiser’s video system—installed this year along with 28 others—was slated for repairs, but that ordered parts had not yet arrived. An inoperative camera is not cause for pulling a cruiser off the streets, he noted, as the police force needs those patrols “out in the field.”

The report goes into great detail on Tacadena’s criminal history and gang affiliation. It notes Tacadena had been in and out of prison and jail over the last 31 years, convicted on drug and weapons charges, spousal battery, resisting arrest, and a number of other crimes. It also describes him as a member of the Nazi Lowriders, a prison-based white supremacist gang. Tacadena — who was a quarter Latino, a quarter Filipino, and half white — had multiple gang tattoos on his body, including “White Pride As I Low-Ride” across his chest, Nazi runic symbols, and swastikas. Authorities say it’s unclear if Tacadena was an active member of the gang, but noted he had recent photographs stored on his cell phone with Lowrider insignia and was wearing boots with Nazi symbols drawn inside.

Though Tacadena’s cousin Frank said he and other family members weren’t necessarily surprised by the shooting report’s findings — stating the document is a “nice little package” that only serves to convince the community it should think “good riddance” to a supposed “monster” — they take issue with its accuracy and purpose. Frank pointed to the lack of video evidence in the report, calling it more than a little suspicious that there is no visual proof of the account. He also asked why so much of Brian’s criminal history was included, explaining, “His past had nothing to do with him being shot that night. They didn’t know his past. They didn’t know who they were dealing with.”

Frank lamented that the officer chose to use lethal force instead of a Taser or other submission means, pointing to a recent incident in Santa Ana where a suspect wielding two samurai swords in public was subdued without any shots being fired. “They didn’t even give him a chance,” Frank said. “He wasn’t a saint; he had a troubled life. But people need help, not get murdered.” Frank said a demonstration against police brutality is planned for this weekend and that the Tacadena family is meeting with detectives in the coming days and has discussed the possibility of filing a wrongful-death lawsuit.


DA Report on Tacadena Shooting

Released December 13, 2013

Download .PDF


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Nobody deserves to lose their life, so the Officer did the right thing by preserving his own life and taking that of this monster. I am sure it is very hard for the Family as I am sure at one point he was a nice kid turned wrong. Looking at this guys record made me sick, and I believe "Justifiable" is putting it lightly. Imagine had he not been stopped, could have been a totally innocent victim of a monsters rage and for what, because he could have been helped??? I don't think so.....

sbloc93111 (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 1:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And let the Monday morning SB freaks begin talking $h!t…

Can't wait to hear from the self made educated mind numb defense freaks who have no information to give but will tell us how someone else should have defended themselves…

I better grab a cup of coffee and be prepared to hit the head after splitting my gut from laughing at these idiots...

Priceless (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 2:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is what happens when schizos walk around with knifes... They kill random people.

Why didn't Frank help his brother before this tradegy happen? If they cared so much for him why didnt they help him with his meth addiction and mental problems?

deniseL (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 2:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@Priceless, So you think it's funny that someone lost his life? Thats Priceless I bet you and Dick Box would make good cell mates.

Byrd (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 3:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It should be noted that methamphetamine use increased drastically decades ago as penalties for sale and possession of cocaine increased and brought the prices up and the quality down. Meth is said to be the 'poor man's cocaine'. It is also much more dangerous than cocaine.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 3:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have to side with DeniseL on this one. If Brian needed help, Frank had a lot of time to provide it given his brother's long history of violence.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 6:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So you don't think he tried?

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 6:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sounds like he's been a drain on society for years.
Good riddance.

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 8:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

meth is the toxic waste of recreational drugs. 10x the average level of intoxication means he was so high he could have sprouted wings and flown away had he felt inclined to. by the way the 21 ft rule refers to the studies that have shown it takes about 1.5 seconds for the "average angry man" to cover 7 yards which is the same amount of time it takes to present and ready a holstered or concealed firearm when attacked unexpectedly.

StockiestCastle (anonymous profile)
December 18, 2013 at 11:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I know for a fact that the Officer will have to see a shrink and get the OK to return to work as per P.O.S.T. and Department Guidelines, plus any Officer related shooting requires years of counseling, so even though the shooting was justifiable doesn't mean that it's a done deal, the Officer may have PTSD from it or other mental health related issues, he may leave Law Enforcement all together as taking a life even to save your own causes a great mental rift in a persons ethical persona. This "Monster" has damaged another even if a knife was not the method of causing but the experience of dealing with a persons life ending CHOICE by Cop, as a Force Protection Officer, the 21 ft rule is the shoot-don't-shoot rule to follow. How far was the Perp? An estimated 66 feet and in a matter of seconds or minutes the Perp was far within the 21 foot distance to shoot at a Edge weapon wielder? The Perp was hell bent on two things, ending his life, or another.
I have NO sympathy for the Perp!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 6:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

dou4now and deniseL- If the officer ends up with mental health issues for Murdering someone, does he need help and counseling ?Maybe Brian's brother(cousin), Dr. Frank can help with the counseling?Or does he just need to be killed?
Was he drunk or high that night, that's why he missed 4 times from close range? Maybe in his PAST he was bullied ,so now that he's a cop and carries a gun, he just snaps. Doesn't even wait for back up. Hmmmm????

anon84 (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 7:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If the officer was shooting from 21 feet and missed 4 times out of 5 he needs some serious time at the practice range.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 8:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

JohnL, a S&W .40 has a barrel length of ~8" max. The travel deviation of a bullet leaving the barrel increases every so many units per foot of travel.
With that said, 5 (at the very least) things are apparent:

a) The laws of handgun ballistics came into play.
b) A 20% (1 out of 5) target hit rate is effective.
c) The officer did what proper training taught him.
d) JohnL has never fired a handgun at a distant traget (>10').
e) JohnL knows nothing of law enforcement protocol.

The law enforcement officer is alive and well, thank you for doing a good job and following through with the proper training techniques, protocol and practices.
Do I fear said officer in the future? Well, I don't plan on doing a load of meth or approaching him, or any other LEO with a K-bar (the type of knife this knucklehead was carrying).

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 11:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Thanks for making my point valid. Next time do yourself a favor and actually read what I posted. Never said it was funny taking a life. It was in reference to idiotic posts such as yours who make accusations without proof or knowledge of anything.

Now I can drink my coffee and LMAO!!!!!

Priceless (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 6:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Priceless, regarding Byrd, haven't you heard?

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 19, 2013 at 7:52 p.m. (Suggest removal)

blahblahmoreblah: I shoot an M&P 40 about once a month. I routinely put 10 in a 5 inch circle from 21 feet with a barrel of much less than 8" (don't think I've ever seen a 40 with an 8" barrel).. Might wanna hold back on your assumptions.

This does sound like a justified shooting, but if 1 in 5 is effective we need a new definition of effective.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 11:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@John Lock-Once a month at the gun range shooting your newest toy and looking cool in your latest purchase from the Cabela catalog, is a little different than having rounds coming back at you or an drugged up retardo with a big knife coming towards you. My bet is that you would not only go ZERO for five but would find a big lump in the back of your pants as well.

edukder (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 12:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

See there Johnny boy, edukder seems to get it, yet you can't. Lab conditions versus real scenario, guess which one fits you?
Now go back to your gun range and perfect the art of non-combat shooting at a target that stands still, its your calling in life.

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 12:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Absolutely predictable response. Assumptions once again. How do you know I wasn't military or LEO myself. You don't, of course. Either of you have any experience with guns and shooting? At all?

I am an amateur shooter. I expect professionals, i.e. LEOs to be VERY proficient. 80% should be minimum qualification, retested monthly.

Lose the attitude and research the number of Officer Involved Shootings in SB County vs NYC. EIther we have a crime rate 8 to 10 times that of NYC or an out of control law enforcement community.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There goes JL with that stupid SB vs NYC analogy again. I checked into ALL the stats surrounding his argument and it only strengthened my assumption of his ignorance of law enforcement training, policies and practices in the two agencies.

First of all, NYC officers get shot and killed on the job on a pretty often basis by LE stats. How many SB officers get killed a year? WHY?? That's because CA trainings and standards are much higher. CA law enforcement are trained under POST standards that teach them, more than any other state, how to stay alive. Most LE that die on duty do so in auto accidents.

If you want to question why this officer shot and killed (Justifiable Homicide) this drugged up suicide by cop felon, or question all of the recent shootings, then question by what standards they are trained. You want to call cops killers then prosecute the law makers voting for the laws that establish their training, policies and the laws protecting them.

All other anonymous attacks have no bearing.


Validated (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 1:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gee Validated, do you think that the fact that the NYPD has 34,500 officers vs. the SBPD's 150 might have something to do with the fact that no SBPD officers get killed? Not to mention NYC's population of 8.2M vs. SB's 100K and the fact that NYC is a huge city with many crime-ridden areas and SB is a rich coastal tourist town? Nah, you're right, it's the training that makes all the difference.

Botany (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 1:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's not an analogy, Validated. It's a valid (teehee) statistical comparison. Quite valid, Validated. If you guys would rather hide your heads in the sand and continue to spout opinion instead of fact, that's on you.

If SB County training considers a 20% hit rate as "efficient", then our training is severely lacking.

And I stipulated earlier that this shooting did seem to be justified. Not because our in-police-pocket DA said so, but by the news reporting. Although I would worry about the people behind the wall that three of the misses went into.

And, duh, I'm not calling cops killers - that is your overstatement. I am pointing out an uncomfortable truth. Far as I know the training standards are set by the law enforcement community. If the lawmakers have anything to do with it other than rubberstamp I'd be surprised. Do you have actual knowledge of the process?

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 2:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JohnnyL: "I am an amateur shooter."

Well, you just admitted it, therefore no assumptions necessary on mine or edukder's behalf.
So now we have a self-professed amateur (rookie, novice, greenhorn, newbie) telling the world how a "professional" should be able to shoot? Dude, thank you for the awesome Christmas cheer! LOLOLOLOLOLMAO!

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 3:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

12-15 feet away is what they said. 1 shot at close range and 4 misses??? One witness who a reporter questioned,but the police failed to interview said Brian didn't even walk toward the cop!! But we don't see him listed as Anonymous witness #10!!
Lets look at the dash cam video.Oh the camera was broken, I forgot. Or lets look at the surveillance video from across the street that showed everything , oh yea EXCEPT THE SHOOTING!!

anon84 (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 3:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The statistics are what indicate the problem, If an amateur like me can beat the pros so badly, then the pros need a tuneup.

And as I said before, any facts to support your opinions? I thought not.

Have a nice Holiday in your personal reality distortion zone.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 3:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

LOL John, you beat the pros with a NON-MOVING STANDING STILL TARGET!
But hey, in YOUR world that's professionalism. Good luck putting that realism to practice if a time ever comes. Talk about a case of social distortion!

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 5:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

blahblahmoreblah, I understand what you're saying, but a pro should be MUCH BETTER or not be a pro You still don't get it, Just don't make any sudden moves around a local LEO.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 6:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"One witness who a reporter questioned,but the police failed to interview said Brian didn't even walk toward the cop!! But we don't see him listed as Anonymous witness #10!!
Lets look at the dash cam video.Oh the camera was broken, I forgot. Or lets look at the surveillance video from across the street that showed everything , oh yea EXCEPT THE SHOOTING!!"

Ya it sounds like the cop was justified on the cover, but honestly, cops lie so much I wouldn't be surprised if the story was complete BS.

Here's a story about a teenager who shot himself in the head ... Oh ya, except his hands were cuffed behind his back and he was in the back of a police cruiser:

I think what might answer the question that JohnLocke is trying to get to is that there is such a huge distrust between the public and police officers that people who come in contact with police expect that there is a high likelihood that they are going to be mistreated and some people naturally become very defensive which causes police officers to believe that they are being threatened. It is a horrendous cycle caused by an ever growing police state and is exacerbated by the war on drugs.

Cops Gone Wild (warning: graphic content)

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 20, 2013 at 10:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

During a stressful situation you will not act the same as during a stressful one, so unless the police officer is a battle hardened ex-special forces type of guy, his shooting skills at the time of the incident are normal, That being said, the policies that are in effect are only that way to protect lives, especially those on the front lines, but they do give way too much power which could be used by bad cops, and that should always be taken into perspective, and those bad cops should be weeded out just like the criminals. Good luck taking on the union with this though.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2013 at 11:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

OK loonpt, we get it. You're deathly afraid of law enforcement. I feel your fears have more to do with personal issues than fact, but I'm afraid of heights so I won't judge.

Validated (anonymous profile)
December 21, 2013 at 1:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JohnLocke you would benefit by watching this video

deniseL (anonymous profile)
December 22, 2013 at 4:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A totally justifiable shoot! The officer dod what was necessary, get over it!

madmikey272 (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 9 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Iceland just had their first fatal shooting by a police officer in the entire history of Iceland. That's right, their first ever. And we had several just this year in Santa Barbara.

So are the police officers or the population there gloating over the victim saying how he 'deserved it' and how it was a 'suicide by cop'?

No. They are actually acting like human beings.

"The fatal police shooting of a 59-year-old Icelandic man on December 2 was the first to take place in that country since it achieved independence in 1944.

Iceland is not inhospitable to privately owner firearms: it is ranked 15th in the world in terms of per-capita gun ownership. Its police typically don’t carry weapons – and its population, which is blessed to live in a country where violent crime is all but non-existent, quite sensibly prefers this arrangement."

What do you think the biggest difference is between Iceland and Santa Barbara is? If you answered 'Mexicans', then you not only wrong, but you are racist.

The correct answer:

"Iceland is the first country in the world to formally join the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy was a 19-person panel which issued an assessment in 2011 of the global War on Drugs, opening its report with "The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world"."

loonpt (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 4:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Iceland's population is 320,000, loon! Lots of them huddled in warm bars in Reykyavik (or however you spell it).

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 6:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

dou4now -

Hopefully the Officer will be able to get past this issue without any problems and enjoy a great career to retirement. But, from what I hear, it might be a good idea to remind them not to look for (or trust) internal support from SBPD or Risk Management personnel. In the event there are future issues for the officer it is my understanding they will be seen by city personnel as a liability, a "number." The "number" translates to dollars and the City will likely try to minimize their liability in any manner they can. Document, copy and record everything. A couple sources have indicated it is in the best interest of the involved Officer to trust no one within the City hierarchy to assist them, especially if this were to become a retirement issue.

whatsinsb (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 7:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The more profound question to Dr.Dan and Loonpoint is why is it called "Iceland" when it has much vegetation, whilst "Greenland" is basically a vast wasteland of ice?

Did you also know that Russian pianist Vlademir Ashkhnazsky (or however you spell it) is an Icelandic citizen?

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2013 at 9:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

you swim around a lot, but unless you get Google Earth underwater, you can't see the surface of Iceland: precious little vegetation! Did you know Iceland was discovered by Leif Ericsson's father?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
December 24, 2013 at 10:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here are 10 groups of people mostly immune to prosecution in the USA:
Catholic Priests
Corporate Heads
Law Enforcement
Top Actors
Top Athletes
War Profiteers

Rinconer (anonymous profile)
December 31, 2013 at 9:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If this were Facebook, I'd click "Like" for Rinconer's comment.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 31, 2013 at 2:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I feel bad for the family but its obvious this guy was a monster.. I know hes a son.. a brother.. cousin and uncle to many but what would have happened if the police didnt do anything?? When confronted by police you have to comply..I dont like it either..even when your have to do it. As for the people who want the police to use different methods to subdue this guy.. What would you have done if it was you he was charging?? Would you just say " Im sorry Let me get out of your way"
I think this family knew something like this was going to happen and even though its hard to deal was inevitable. He chose a path and this is the way it ended.. the way it always ends actually.

audidriver2010 (anonymous profile)
January 3, 2014 at 10:01 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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