SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – A 21-year-old man who died in a police shooting earlier this month allegedly ran toward an officer while wielding a knife before being shot, police said Monday during a town hall meeting.
The suspect, later identified as Cesar Vargas of Fairfield, died in the Oct. 10 officer-involved shooting on the first block of Otis Street.
During the town hall, police revealed that before officers encountered Vargas, he attempted to open the doors of several cars near the area of Market and Valencia streets.
According to police, around 11:25 p.m., Vargas stood in front of a Toyota Prius that was stopped at a red light and jumped on the hood, yelling for the driver to get out and shattering the car’s windshield. Vargas then allegedly held a knife to the victim’s face and pulled her out of the driver’s seat.
The victim was able to back away from Vargas and run to safety. Vargas then drove the Toyota for a short distance, before getting out moments later and allowing the car to roll onto the sidewalk, police said.
A witness at the scene tried to stop Vargas, but the witness noticed Vargas was apparently armed with a knife. As Vargas took off running, several witnesses called police and attempted to follow him.
Now at the corner of Market and Gough streets, Vargas allegedly tried to enter a silver BMW that was stopped at a red light, but was unsuccessful. He also allegedly pushed a person getting off a nearby bus, police said.
Vargas next ran toward a woman opening her vehicle door, but witnesses yelled for the woman to lock her car doors, and she was able to keep Vargas from entering.
Minutes later, officers arrived and pursued Vargas as he ran south on Gough, then east on Colton Street and south on Brady Street before finally stopping on Otis Street.
When officers yelled for him to drop his weapon Vargas stood back, but then allegedly charged at one of the officers with the knife still in hand, and threatening to kill the officer.
That’s when the two officers shot Vargas. Although police and medical crews tried to revive Vargas, he died at the scene.
The officers have been identified as Officer Kyle Roach and Officer Nicholas Delgado. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave as the shooting is investigated separately by the San Francisco district attorney’s Independent Investigations Bureau, the Police Department’s Investigative Services Detail, the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, the Department of Police Accountability, and the San Francisco medical examiner’s office.
At the town hall, police showed several videos, including surveillance videos and body-worn camera footage of the fatal shooting.
During public comment, several community members spoke out against the fatal police shooting — the city’s first in nearly two years — urging officers to employ more less-lethal tactics.
“It’s very clear from the videos and evidence that this person was in a mental health crisis. Yes, he had a knife. Yes, he was trying to enter cars.
His behavior was very erratic,” said Adriana Camarena of the organization Justice for Luis Gongora Pat. “Did those officers make a plan to deescalate? Because I didn’t see any.”
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