Witnesses Recall Fatal Shooting

Residents See and Hear Officer Use Deadly Force on Knife-Wielding Man

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
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Although the Santa Barbara Police Department has released few details about the officer-involved shooting that left a knife-wielding man dead near the corner of Victoria and De la Vina streets Sunday night, The Santa Barbara Independent spoke to several residents in the area who shed some light on how the incident unfolded.

De la Vina resident Patricia Cordero said she was jolted awake by the sound of five or so gunshots at around 11:30 p.m. Sunday night. When she walked outside onto her porch, she said, she saw two police cruisers on the street. “Within seconds,” Cordero went on, “about 10 cop cars pulled up.” Cordero said officials stayed at the scene overnight until around 8 a.m. the next morning when they removed the body. “They literally investigated everything,” she said.

Greg Slater — who lives in an apartment building at the intersection of Victoria and De la Vina — said he watched the confrontation take place from his upstairs window. He said he first looked outside after hearing the buzzer of a police car and then saw a police officer standing about 20 feet away from a man who was holding a six-inch knife by his side.

“The cop told him to stop and drop the knife,” Slater recalled. “He turned around and started walking toward the officer. The officer told him again to stop and drop the knife or he would shoot. Then the guy said, ‘Yeah, I know,’ and just kept walking toward him.” Slater said he then heard about four gunshots, and that the whole event took a matter of seconds. “It looked to me like suicide by cop,” he added.

Slater recalled that the suspect appeared to be a large, six-foot-tall man who had a beard and was wearing a baseball cap. He said he thought the man was white, or possibly Latino, but that it was hard to tell because it was dark outside. “It looked justified to me,” Slater said. “It looked like it was textbook. I mean, the guy was a threat — he didn’t put his weapon down.”

Slater’s next door neighbor, Dennis Burke, also got out of bed around 11:30 p.m. when he heard a police car pull up outside of his apartment. He also recalled hearing an officer yell “Drop the knife!” repeatedly, followed by several gun shots. “It happened so quick it was unbelievable,” he said. “He looked like he could have been a dangerous guy,” Burke added.

“I heard the officer calling out to somebody further down on Victoria,” Burke also said. “I don’t know if this individual had been involved in an incident further down the street — I’d really like to know what that guy had been doing.” He said a police officer knocked on nearby doors about 10 or 15 minutes after the shooting to ask apartment residents to recall what they had seen or heard.

Another apartment resident, Henry Delavega, said he first remembered hearing a police officer yell, “Drop the knife!” several times. He said he then heard several gunshots. “At first, I thought it was a backfire. I thought it was kids fooling around.” Delavega also expressed concern because he knows that the entrance to his apartment building is unlocked all night. “I don’t know if they were chasing him or what. Everything happened so fast. It was so dark.”

Victoria Street resident Marian Sorensen said she heard gunshots down the street as well. But, she asked, “Why didn’t they taze him?” She also expressed frustration because her young son saw the deceased man’s uncovered body on the sidewalk before it was removed. “Why didn’t they cover the body right away?” she wondered.

Other nearby residents down both streets said they heard anywhere between four to eight gunshots just before midnight. They added that officials cordoned off a two-block radius around the scene until the next morning. As of 4 p.m. Monday, a bouquet of flowers had been placed next to a utility pole at the intersection.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

One witness said "why didn't they taser him ?" I say a man with a gun and a man with a 6 in knife? The cop has to shoot to kill rather than disable the dangerous fellow with a knife? Murderer!

larry18 (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 8:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Taser battery dead? The guy was still 6 feet away? Plenty of time for a Tase. Yet another in a long and growing list of misbehavior by SBPD.

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 8:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

yes, or why didn't the police officer try a austin powers judo chop. jeezus.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 8:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Tasers don't do the job 100 percent of the time. The guy could have been on meth. So the cop has a choice, risk his life with the Taser, or defend himself with his handgun. And you shoot at the best target, the torso, not the extremities where you are more likely to miss, and it may not stop him anyway.

discoboy (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 9:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good job LE....continue to get the scum off our streets.
SantaBarbara is getting pretty dirty these days....

zuma7 (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 9:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A perfect example of our cops being trained to kill rather than subdue and or evaluate.

"To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail..."

No reason on earth for an armed cop, trained in hand to hand combat, armed with numerous non-lethal weapons to shoot and kill a guy with a small knife in such a short amount of time... Why didnt they beat the man to the ground or disarm them with non-lethal means? Because they're weak minded, scared an over armed idiots... that's why

Another case of a weak minded, scared cop shooting first and asking questions later. This is murder by an idiotic, weak cop. Not an act of self defense by a threatened law enforcement officer.

iamsomeguyinsb (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 9:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Way to go SBPD. Add another murder that you hide behind the badge. This isn't the first time you have killed somebody in the name of "justice". You are freakin' hypocrites. A knife? Wow... So scary. You are trained in all kinds of hand to hand combat, and you have tasers and other non-lethal ways of disarming a suspect. But noooo.... You have to kill him... Good job.. I applaud you.. Asshats....

MeliK84 (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 10:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

We were told we'd see more transparency from the police department. What we got was silence from the solidarity of those receiving the highest pensions in the country!

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 10:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm disgusted at the hatred towards those charged with protecting our safety.

Good job SBPD, you are appreciated by many (and hopefully most) despite the ignorant comments displayed here.

Do you people have any connection to reality? Hell yes a knife is scary, more dangerous than a gun when at close range. Just because you learned two defenses against knives in your tae kwon do class doesn't mean you have a clue what its like to face someone trying to carve your face off on a dark street.

MoKajavva (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 10:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

cry me a river. pull a knife on a cop. get shot dead. simple enough.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 10:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Some of you watch WAY too much TV. Law enforcement is one of those professions that everyone thinks they can do better than the men and women who are actually trained for it and are actually out there doing the work. Put down the TV remote or the video game controller and open your eyes to the way things really are out there.

The fact remains that in the real world anyone armed with a large knife and advancing on an armed police officer while at the same time ignoring the officer's commands to drop the weapon is a threat to both the officer and the public and is asking to get shot.

Police officers are not paid to ignore threats, nor are they paid to be placid masochists and allow themselves to get stabbed or cut so as to satisfy some citizen's warped idea of fairness in such a situation. While I regret that someone's son/brother/father had to die, I'm also glad the officer is unhurt and that the person with the knife is no longer a threat.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at noon (Suggest removal)

Lots of talk about position from what I have read is...I was not there...I don't know the mental state of the man with the knife-being a cop is a hard job-your choices are vastly different than in any other job-It must be hard to live with these choices sometimes...hard to find a way to just stay balanced. What I do not understand is why people who were not there and have only a limited amount of info can think so violently toward the office. I have been assisted a few times in my life by a PD-one SAVED my life once...I think we should try and be realistic when this kind of thing happens--The man with the knife made a choice...and the officer simply responded...the officer now gets to live with his choice is not a small thing...not an easy choice. Would throwing him a little grace be too hard? Peace and may the sad soul that caused his own demise now find his own peace--this planet is not an easy place to be--these days anxiety and violence are everywhere--my suggestions is that we perhaps put the officer in the best light possible...he is right now probably having one of the worst days of his life---my $00.02....from a soul who has a long list of choices that have left soul kind. Lizzy

emenzies (Elizabeth Menzies)
September 3, 2013 at 12:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This makes me sick! People like ' MoKajavva ' and anyone else who pays their taxes and then doesn't start a revolution when s**t like this happens. You are the exact reason WHY this s**t is allowed to continue!

I moved to the UK 4 years ago and never looked back. Knife crime is a problem where I live, and guess what - the majority of cops don't carry guns. They carry retractable batons and pepper spray. And guys with much bigger knives than that chap had on Sunday are, guess what, taken down with the tools at hand - not .40 caliber pistols.

And guess what else? Gun crime is almost non-existent. Why? Because guns, for the purposes of 'home deeeeeeefence' and general all-round trying to extend the already pathetic length of one's genitalia, are simply not allowed.

What's the point here? My point is take the guns away from most everybody - criminal and cop alike. Cuz from the front porch looking in? It's hard to tell the difference between the two these days.

So glad I moved away.

ps: I miss Freebirds.

calicaledonia (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 1:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear calicaledonia,

Are you Pho-king kidding me? Start a revolution because a police officer an armed man advancing on him with an edged weapon? Most people would consider me a left wing liberal but compared to you I'm feeling like I might have NRA tattooed on my balls.

If I could push a magic button and make guns disappear you bet I'd do it in a heart beat. Sorry, my practical experience in the physical world tells me there is no magic strong enough to overcome the mess we've created so instead we need practical solutions like police officers. I'm glad the UK manages crime without guns. I'm also glad our officers here in Santa Barbara are well trained and have firearms that they use when lethal force is justified (such as in this case)

I've had a lot of martial arts training and the most important lesson I've learned is that despite one's level of training, people can be injured or killed very quickly and unexpectedly. There is no question that an adult armed with a knife, and refusing to halt is a target for lethal intervention. Had he decided to start running/lunging he would have been able to cover 12-15 feet in about the same time it takes to unholster a weapon. Even after being shot the momentum can carry an attacker forwards to inflict a lethal slash.

If you'd prefer to watch Chuck Norris movies and pretend all cops should be able to disarm ninjas with a well placed crescent kick than please don't share your opinions in the real world.

Freebirds misses you too.

MoKajavva (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Best to wait for an independent investigation to identify the facts involved that led the officer chose to shoot rather than take a less fatal approach against this suspect.

whatsinsb (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 1:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

MoKajavva. Seriously. When was the last time you had somebody come at YOU with a knife. I'm guessing never.

SB Police Officers well trained? A gun vs. a knife from a starting distance of 20 feet? Really? Did you not read my last post? The cops over on this side of the pond(don't worry I'm staying over on this side of the pond), handle altercations like this on a regular basis. It doesn't require the lethal force of a .40 caliber pistol to right the man's wrongs. The very fact that you feel refusing to halt is a reason for lethal intervention - that is the problem. 12 - 15 feet before the officer can unholster his weapon? If it takes a well trained hand that long to draw, perhaps he/she should consider a new gig!

With all of your "martial arts training", you state, rightfully so, that people can be killed or harmed unexpectedly - from a blind position. But the attacker wasn't coming out of the unexpected big bad nowhere. He was 20 feet directly in front of the cop!!! Just sayin'.

And let me tell ya, I hadn't heard the terms "disarming ninjas" or "crescent kicks" in at least 20 years. I don't even think Chuck Norris has! Thank you.You've refreshed my memory Bruce Wannabe(Lee).

Perhaps you should consider applying for the next opening at SBPD. Sounds like they could use a caped crusader like you.

ps: please don't tattoo your nuts. that will hurt.

calicaledonia (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 2:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

calicaledonia: Yes, seriously.

"When was the last time you had somebody come at YOU with a knife. I'm guessing never."
You validate my point, thanks. All these people on here claiming the cop should have shot the guy in the leg, used his baton (requiring the guy to get within arms reach), use a taser (not always effective, sometimes heavy clothing blocks it) have most likely never had a guy charging at them with a knife. I've never been in a self defense situation against a knife but I have participated in edged weapon defense classes and the prime goal is to get away, only fight if it's truly your last resort. Knives are freakin dangerous in every direction. It doesn't require a "blind position" to pose danger.

If you don't believe me grab a couple friends, a sharpie and a stopwatch and simulate running at someone from 15 feet away as they release the snap or safety from a holster, then draw and raise a simulated handgun. Use good soap when removing the ink from your face and arms.

20 feet was the distance when the cop first noticed the man had a knife. I'm guessing that distance must have shortened considerably as he was walking towards the cop during the alleged numerous warnings to stop and drop his weapon.

The thing of it is, I don't want to engage in violence. I'm not a cop. I'm glad there are cops who, for whatever their personal reasons, are willing to work at a job where people might want to hurt or kill them.

I'd rather read headlines that announce the shooting death of an armed attacker than,

"Four police officers injured in knife attack -
Four police officers were injured, including three thought to have been stabbed, in an incident in north west London."

MoKajavva (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 3:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The "witness" said that "it was hard to tell if the man was white or Latino as it was dark outside"... but he was able to to hear the entire conversation and describe the knife in detail, and then claim it was "textbook suicide by cop". I wasn't there, but it doesn't take an eyewitness to deduce that this "witness's" statement sounds coached, or compromised.

Will there be an investigation? Who knows? When the police investigate the police, the outcome is about as useful as when the Mafia investigates the Genovese Family.

bloggulator (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

At first, I thought that the defenders of the knife wielder were kidding. You know, post-modern irony and so forth. But now that I see that they are serious, I have to conclude that they are idiots. One does not grapple with an assailant who is armed with a knife without getting cut. Even a highly trained and very talented martial artist (who would probably prevail in such an encounter) would also probably get cut. Police officers are not required to take that risk. Knife versus gun, knife loses every time. The knife wielding assailant knew this as did the police officer. I am betting on either suicide by cop or meth head delusions of grandeur. I feel sorry for the poor police officer that was forced to defend himself or herself.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 8:38 p.m. (Suggest removal)

MoKajavva and Legendary Yeti, I am with you on this one. Completely.

And Mok: "Use good soap when removing the ink from your face and arms." Hell, yeah! You had me laughing myself sick. That is one great line.

All the best to the officer who had to stop this guy. Thank you for putting yourself on the line----every day.

chilldrinfthenight (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 9:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The officer did exactly what (s)he was trained for. For those who don't believe that, sign up for a ride-along or the citizen's academy to learn a bit about what these officers are really up against. Like others said, it ain't TV.

karenbug (anonymous profile)
September 3, 2013 at 10:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 5:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you Eckerman for succinctly stating the truth and proper sentiments.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 11:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"cry me a river. pull a knife on a cop. get shot dead. simple enough". Lawdy.
I agree, Pull a knife on me, get shot dead, but not so simple. I was taught like all Armed carrying Protection Officers, to shoot for Center-Mass, torso of the body to carry the most kinetic energy to the armed suspect, also I use Jacketed Hollow point rounds which spread after penetration to deliver even more energy. The not so easy part is the mental and emotional trauma the police officers will feel after the inquiries, and the firearms board will have had on him but the knowledge at least what the witness, Greg Slater stated, “The cop told him to stop and drop the knife,” Slater recalled. “He turned around and started walking toward the officer. The officer told him again to stop and drop the knife or he would shoot. Then the guy said, ‘Yeah, I know,’ and just kept walking toward him.”; Suicide by Cop is not an easy deal or a morally justified shooting but a forced shooting by the suspect who puts up a weak attack by refusing to follow the easiest of instructions, let go of the knife to the ground. This Officer will from now on question his own actions and have that day where a person decided for him that death by Cop was better than get help for the mental illness they had (when they were alive). Sometime lifesaving procedure gets in the way of moral issues of right and wrong.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 12:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I can't believe that even one person would criticize and blame the police in this situation. Be wary people, they (police haters) walk among us.

rblacumbre (anonymous profile)
September 4, 2013 at 1:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Law enforcement officers Killed and Assaulted 2011;
California - 0 All other states - 0, exception Delaware - 1

Law enforcement officers feloniously assaulted 2002 - 2011
Number of victim officers - 543
Assault with knife or other cutting instrument - 3

Another A+ for BS, leo's

14noscams (anonymous profile)
September 8, 2013 at 1:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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