Southern California cops shot and killed a mentally ill man Sunday after he barricaded himself inside his van after being pulled over for an inoperable tail light.
Orange police can be seen flushing the man out of the van with high-powered water hoses – which they say they did for his safety – before shooting him to death.
They claimed he had a knife, but a video of the incident recorded by OnScene.TV does not show a knife in his hands.
However, the videographer was standing further away from the man than the cops.
Either way, he did not appear to be “lunging” at anybody.
The victim, Michael Anthony Perez, 33, initially refused to stop even though he had “ample opportunity,” Orange Police Lieutenant Fred Lopez told the Los Angeles Times.
After eventually stopping at a strip mall, Perez refused orders to exit the vehicle.
Instead, according to spokesman Lopez, Perez placed some sort of canister next to himself, which officers say smelled of gasoline, then poured some onto a rag and lit a cigarette.
“At this point, the officers were no longer concerned about the traffic ticket,” Lopez told the Times.
“It was, do we have a suicide? Do we have other incendiary devices inside the vehicle? That’s why a plan was devised to get him out of the vehicle.”
After seeing the gas canister, police summoned the Orange City Fire Authority.
Unsure whether Perez was suicidal or in possession of an incendiary device, police devised a non-lethal plan to force him out of the van.
But they were unable to subdue Perez without using fatal force.
Video taken by an OnScene.TV journalist shows police using batons and hatchets to break the windows to Perez’s van then spraying a high-pressure firehose inside, which ultimately flushed him out the driver’s side window.
Perez, apparently not holding any weapons, falls from the window.
As an officer attempts to take him into custody, another officer can be heard shouting, “Knife! Knife! Knife! He’s got a knife! He’s got a knife! Drop it!”
A gunshot can be heard, which apparently struck Perez in the upper torso.
“What the fuck are you shooting for?,” a bystander at the scene can be heard shouting at the police several times. “Hey! What are you guys shooting for?”
“Stop shooting!” yells a female witness on-scene.
Officers attempted CPR to revive Perez, but they were unsuccessful.
He was pronounced dead at UCI Medical Center.
Perez, who struggled with drug addiction and mental illness, had been living in his van for four months.
According to family members, he became more volatile after his wife filed a restraining order against him in February that restricted him from seeing his four kids.
“He was pretty disturbed” Perez’s stepfather-in-law Mike Medina told the Orange County Register. “He loved them but he didn’t know how to control his anger.”
“I tried to help him be a better person. He was in a suicidal state of mind. I tried to help him get back to work. He had a lot of talent.”
Despite personal demons, those who knew Perez remember him as a generous man who often gave free rides to transients.
“He was a nice guy,” John Mehr a 55-year homeless man said. “He was never disrespectful.”
Perez’s arrest history dated back to 2001 and included possession of controlled substance and driving without a license.