Justified Shooting? Man Shot and Killed By California Police After Smashing Windows of a Restaurant With A Pipe

This video on YouTube raises serious questions over the necessity of shooting a man outside of a Carl’s Jr. in Monterey Park, California. The man was smashing windows with a pipe and failed to yield to commands from officers. When he turned toward one officer and raised the pipe, he was repeatedly shot by the other officer in the video.

Frankly, listening to the cellphone left me equally shocked by the callous attitude of the people speaking as by the film itself.

The man clearly was a danger to the officer with a 3-foot pipe. However, he was only responsible for property damage at that point and the police could have backed away and tried to continue to use the tasers as well as the dog. The man’s resistance to the taser is a classic indication of being on drugs, particularly Phencyclidine (PCP) or “angel dust.” Given the man’s turning toward the officer, it is likely to be viewed as a justified use of force under police guidelines since he had a weapon. I am not convinced however that this shooting was necessary. It looks from this video that police could have avoided the shooting that further endangered people in the area. The officers also fired an excessive number of bullets, including one that almost hit a woman standing underneath a nearby sign. She was injured by the failing glass and debris.

A typical police manual stipulates that “[a]n officer may use deadly force in the circumstances permitted by this policy when all reasonable alternatives appear impracticable and the officer reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary.” It would seem that there were reasonable alternatives here, including backing away and isolating the man with the dog or non-lethal force. Nevertheless, it would fit the current interpretation of Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985).

When automatic and semi-automatic Glock 9mm weapons were introduced in the police force, many experts expressed concern over the ease of firing the weapon and its large number of rounds in its standard clip (often 30). The concern was that it would increase the number of rounds fired in such incidents and thereby increase the likelihood of fatalities, including to bystanders.

Once again, while police have threatened or arrested citizens videotaping them in public, this video is another example of its value to the public.

Source; Youtube and ABC

35 thoughts on “Justified Shooting? Man Shot and Killed By California Police After Smashing Windows of a Restaurant With A Pipe”

  1. Mespo,
    Why did they get so close if they were unsure of the threat he posed? If the FBI fired 40 times and missed that old guy, those agents need more training or a new profession?? 🙂

  2. rafflaw:

    I was talking to a retired Judge who is the former head of the FBI SWAT team in Detroit. In teh 80s, the FBI was having trouble with thefts from bank night deposit boxes and staked out the likely locations. An old man was spotted reaching into a night drop box and SWAT rolled. They surrouded the guy and he pulled a gun. The six SWAT guys tried to wound the ol’ timer who obviously was no match for them. After firing 40 times the old man fled the scene but was later captured unharmed. It turned out he was out at night looking for his cat and carried a gun because it was a high crime area. He didn’t knoe it was teh FBI.

    There you had six FBI trained marksman trying to wound the guy and firing 40 shots. He managed to get away for a short period of time. Would you have taken that chance with a pipe wielding felon about to strike your partner?

  3. Larissa:

    “Swift-to-kill incidents like this erode the public’s trust in law enforcement, making them less likely to report disturbances and quicker to shoot at any officer looking in their direction. They are counter-productive in the long run.”


    A drug-crazed felon has you down on the ground with a 4′ length of iron pipe poised above your head in the midst of a robbery. The police arrive Code 2-1-1 S (Robbery Silent). Seeing this, our felon makes a clear attempt to strike you with the pipe and flee. Do you want a “swift-to-kill” officer or a “slow-to-kill” officer? Assuming you survive the encounter with a “slow-to-kill” officer, how would you rate your trust in the police department?

  4. Mespo,
    I would think that even under the influence that a shot in the leg would have distracted him enough to enable the officers to gain control of him. How many shots did he squeeze off? Six or eight? Secondly, did they need to be that close to him in the first place if they weren’t going to use a tazer? It also looked like he was walking to the car originally. If that was his car, they could have gotten control of the situation by letting him get in the car and then disabling the car. Six or eight shots is excessive from what I saw on the video. Just one man’s opinion.

  5. This shooting happened within driving distance of where I live. So did a killing that is even more questionable. The local newspaper has reported on the audio of the emergency call requesting police assistance. It is challenging to reconcile what was said during that call with the situation that the police claimed that they encountered when they arrived. To the extent, if any, that the police account is accurate, then it must be asked whether they mis-handled the situation and tended to provoke the encounter they allegedly had to deal with:

    “A woman who was shot to death by sheriff’s deputies appeared to be sitting “very calmly” in the lobby of a mental health clinic moments before her death, according to audio from a call for assistance released Tuesday.

    “Jazmyne Ha Eng, 40, did have a ball-peen hammer in her lap, the caller, an unidentified male, told sheriff’s deputies during the Jan. 4. call for help.

    “Eng, a Rosemead resident with a history of mental illness, was killed by sheriff’s deputies who said she was wielding the hammer over her head and screaming in the clinic’s lobby when they arrived on the scene.

    “A spokesman with the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said sheriff’s deputies likely missed when they fired a stun gun at a mentally-ill woman before the fatal shooting.

    “The caller described Eng as “not immediately violent but I don’t want her to get to that level.” DMV records show that Eng was 4-foot-11 and just over 100 pounds. . . .

    “We have a low-level threat emergency situation,” the man said during the call. “We’ve got a middle-aged female, small stature, sitting in our front office area who is known to us as a patient but she’s refusing contact with anybody. But she’s sitting there with a ball-peen hammer in her lap.”

    “The caller also said Eng had been hospitalized for mental illness in the past and that staff members believed she was off her medication at the time. He said Eng’s therapist was in the lobby with Eng, but was “trying to stand back.”


    “When deputies entered the lobby of the location, they encountered (Eng), wielding a hammer above her head, screaming,” Deputy Peter Gomez said in a written statement.

    “The deputies tried to talk to the woman but she did not respond to their commands, the deputy said. A deputy tried to shock the woman with a Taser, however it was not effective.

    “She then advanced towards to deputies, with hammer over head,” Gomez said. “Fearing for his safety, a deputy fired two rounds from his duty weapon, striking her.”


    1. Ross,
      What first stinks to high heaven with me about this case is that they needed the police at all. I worked for 6 years creating and running programs for severely mentally ill people, who were also addicts. I handled many situations like this myself.
      When I needed the police called in to have someone hospitalized, I was right next to the. patient and running the show. The staff copped out. The police could have done better.

      I used to give roll call lectures at NYPD precincts on dealing with mentally disturbed people, often the PO’s had better, safer tricks than I did. Things have changed I suspect.

      1. Thanks, Mike, your experience and insight is especially welcome. Around here we have incidents where law enforcement’s response to someone who doesn’t immediately obey orders is to shoot to kill, and to later claim that they did so in self-defense. No doubt this is true at least part of the time, but thank God for independent witnesses & especially the wide distribution of devices that the public can use to videotape such encounters. But even where it is true that police ended up having to act in self-defense, couldn’t they have figured out a better way to deal with somebody who is obviously mentally out of it and can’t immediately obey police orders. Thank God the authorities are prosecuting the Fullerton, CA, policemen who murdered Kelly Thomas, a person with schizophrenia who also didn’t immediately obey a police command (see for example http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-kelly-thomas-case,0,3703611.story ). Your advice reinforces the conclusion I had tentatively come to. I will NOT call the police regarding somebody who appears to be unable to immediately obey police orders because there is too high a risk that they will be murdered by the police. Isn’t is terribly sad that it has come to this?

        1. “Isn’t is terribly sad that it has come to this?”


          It is sad and I think the police often act too quickly, but I must admit I feel sympathy for them. They work in an atmosphere rife with corruption and I’m talking about the running of most municipalities. The LEO’s are given covert, though sometimes overt messages by their leaders, that their job is to control the riffraff. They are now trained as if they were paramilitary, seeing themselves as separated from the citizenry. Finally, they are inculcated into a macho, us vs them code, the “blue wall of silence” being an example. Some of them like Joe Arpaio are status-seeking sadists getting thrills by abusing those in their power. We must remember though, that it is the attitudes of society, mixed with the needs of the 1%, that eggs them on.

          Most people never get to see the severely mentally ill up close and personal. They are very frightened people, far from being frightening, who can’t make sense of the world around them, because their vision and senses are skewed.
          During my heart illness I experienced first hand what it is to be in a psychotic state and the over all sensations are those of fear and confusion. The really dangerously disturbed mentally ill are the sociopaths, they mimic normalcy and thus are hard to detect.

          The police, whose job is based on imposing normalcy, become disturbed by those outside of the “normal” parameters. In their fear and possible disgust the police react aggressively against very frightened people who are then further spooked and thus the possibility of violence escalates. While I can sympathize
          with LEO’s, I don’t believe we should let those who cross the line off easily. This overreaching of LEO’s and expansion of their authority needs to stop.

          1. Thanks once again, Mike, for your very insightful response based no doubt upon the body of experience you have had both with the severely mentally ill and with law enforcement officers. If only LEOs realized that they could probably in the great if not overwhelming majority of these cases successfully deal with these people and defuse the situation without force or violence, if only they will use their heart and their head and take the time necessary to do so, instead of quickly escalating the situation. How come police traditionally were willing to take the time to try to save the lives of the suicidal, but have no time to deal with the severely mentally ill? Again, no doubt it is because of the factors that you have mentioned. Thanks again.

  6. Swift-to-kill incidents like this erode the public’s trust in law enforcement, making them less likely to report disturbances and quicker to shoot at any officer looking in their direction. They are counter-productive in the long run.

  7. Jason:

    You and I rarely agree on gun control issues, but here I think you’re right. It’s near impossible for that type of firing precision mentioned by rafflaw especially in a volatile and fluid situation with the adrenalin pumping. The bottom line from a legal perspective is that the man made a threatening gesture with a deadly weapon and there was a reasonable belief that he, as a felon caught in the act of robbery, would carry out the threat. I do not think the officer had to wait until the blow was struck to be in reasonable fear for his safety. Not really that close a call in my opinion.

    Also I have no issue with the police having overwhelming force ,as in this case, a Glock semi. Overwhelming force tends to alleviate an agressive response from a violent arrestee, not promote it.

  8. “The cops are not in Iraq anymore and they need to be given a less lethal job in that town.”


    Makes a good point in that our police have become militarized due to the current regimen of training being given ad the umber of ex-military people now
    being LEO’s. This has led to the inordinate use of SWAT teams and a general overkill when it comes to perceived threats to personal safety.

    Nevertheless, in this instance it is a very hard call to decide what’s right, give the time frame and I think the officers should get the benefit of doubt that they felt endangered. They were acting as is common police practice today. The fault lies not with them, but with how we train our police and the unstated messages sent to them, as to how they are supposed to act.

  9. My video did not show enough clearly. The dog handler should not let the dog run right into a pipe swinger. The dog would be dead. The question of taser over automatic pistol is interesting, except most of the world does not know that a taser can kill. Kind of on the same level as the pipe. Taser is deadly use of force. As time goes on and more cases are litigated with some medical science involved, the cops will finally come off this crap that it is just a tool. If the perp here had a taser they would be justifying shooting him as shooting a guy wielding deadly force would they not?
    While we are on the subject of dogs and shootings the cops often shoot innocent non threatening dogs who might growl. They get a call about a dog on the loose and bam they shoot him/her. We need more U Tube videos of pigs shooting dogs unecessarily.
    This town should hire some good bar bouncers from a rough bar. They would know how to handle a methhead or drunk with a pipe. The cops are not in Iraq anymore and they need to be given a less lethal job in that town. But do not relegate them to dog catcher.

  10. “When automatic and semi-automatic Glock 9mm weapons were introduced in the police force, many experts expressed concern over the ease of firing the weapon and its large number of rounds in its standard clip (often 30).”

    It’s not the case that a standard magazine carries thirty rounds. In fact, high capacity magazines like 30 rounders are seen as unreliable, and more importantly in the context of police, completely impractical. A magazine that size necessarily extends a good distance outside of the magazine well, making them pretty much impossible for a cop to carry.

    “Couldn’t they shoot him in the leg to reduce the danger?”

    No. This is a myth that has been propagated by movies and TV. Police are trained to shoot center mass, and that if they discharge their weapons, it is to be only in response to a deadly threat. If you intentionally fire at a leg, it can be assumed that you weren’t in fear for your or someone else’s life, and therefore should not have fired at all. Also, it’s really really hard to hit a leg as opposed to center mass. Legs are obviously a smaller target, and more importantly, will move more quickly and erratically than the torso. The risk of missed shots and collateral damage goes up.

  11. rafflaw:

    I think the officers saw what Professor Turley pointed out. Namely, a man likely under the influence of a drug like “Angel Dust.” Even wounded he would prove to be a deadly threat as the drug desensitizes its abusers to extreme pain. That’s why some call phencyclidine “rocket fuel.”

  12. At :44 you see the pipe wielding man advance against the officer on the left with a clearly threatening move. It would be a reasonable belief in the mind of the other officer that deadly force was about to be employed by the perpetrator against another person. Note the firing officer had less than a second to react. Accordingly, this appears to be a justified shooting to me. I tend to follow the rule that the person most able to avoid the confrontation should be at fault. There was very little the officer could do under the circumstances as he was simply attempting to corral the perpetrator’s movements before the shooting.

  13. This isn’t close. Two cops and a k-9 against a guy with a pipe? The cop with the dog should have kept his gun on him while the other cop beat the crap out of him with a night stick.

    No need to kill the perp.

  14. Frankly,

    I think that Tennessee v Gardner would and could be applicable…and very decisive of the case….In this situation, where is the line that can be drawn….Ok, so the officer shot too many bullets…If the officer reasonably feared for his safety or others then yes, I do believe it is a justifiable shooting….But if it is to save merely property….then, I think it goes a little over the line….I think, it will come down to what the court believes that the officer did….the Department may send him for further gun training and a psych eval….

  15. This is a tough one. the guy was very close to the one officer so the reaction had to be pretty quick. At the distance between the shooter and the target a tazer might not have hit or might not have worked quickly enough. while we complain about the over use of Tazers you probably have to use them earlier in an engagement before it gets to this point because of the failure rate (missed hits, intoxicated targets that don’t go down). On the other had the officer has a dog I’m very surprised he was not threatening the man with releasing it.

    This is an ugly thing & both sides messed up. Its suicidal to approach any cop with anything like a weapon. We ask them to do a crumby dangerous job and then second guess them in the comfort of our living room. They make a lot of mistakes but this scene is just a hot mess.

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