SAN JOSE, California. – An officer fatally shot a man with a history of mental illness, after he charged at him and other officers with a hatchet during a confrontation at a San Jose apartment complex, police said Sunday.
The officers were responding to reports of a disturbance at a unit in the complex early Sunday and saw the flames and smoke from under the door when they arrived, Police chief Eddie Garcia said.
When they are forced to open the door, they were confronted by the ax-wielding suspect, he said. The man initially left the ax there, but not in accordance with the officers’ commands, Garcia said.
The agents tried to subdue the suspect with a stun gun, but it had no effect on him, Garcia said. The man then picked up the ax and moved in the direction of the officers, which one officer to fire on him, ” he said.
The suspect was transferred to a hospital, where he died. His name was withheld until the Santa Clara County Coroner’s office confirms his identity and notifies his next of kin.
The police said that he had been committed to a mental institution and has a criminal record including violence, weapons and drugs charges.
The police officer who shot the suspect is placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. He has been with the department for two years.
Garcia defended the officer’s actions, saying he and fellow officers were trying to diffuse a tense situation by trying to talk the suspect and the use of non-lethal means to subdue him.
“He had no other choice,” Garcia said. “This officer responded bravely, and almost certainly saved himself and his fellow officers of the danger, in response to an almost impossible situation.”