Fresno Police shoot and kill man with a knife in second officer-involved shooting this month
Three Fresno Police officers shot and killed a knife-wielding man outside a substation in southwest Fresno late Saturday in the department’s second officer-involved shooting in two weeks.
The shooting occurred shortly after 11 p.m. outside the Southwest Substation in the Kearney Palms shopping center at Fresno and B streets. A third officer who was inside the substation and heard the call went outside and tried to assist the other two. The officers and the man were not identified.
“We had two police officers, actually a supervisor and an officer, who were communicating right outside the station. That’s when they noticed a white male, approximately in his 40s, who was suspiciously standing by one of our gates,” Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said at the scene.
“Keep in mind this is a police station; it’s a secure facility. Really no reason why a civilian would be standing out in that area. It is suspicious. They made contact with this individual. The individual produced a knife at some point. This happens to be about a seven-inch fixed blade similar to a Bowie knife he had in his hand and was non-compliant.
“The officers communicated with him and tried to de-escalate and, at some point, this civilian started approaching the officers, made some movements that were aggressive and they were forced to discharge their weapons.”
The man died at the hospital, Balderrama said.
Saturday’s violence marked the second deadly officer-involved in Fresno in March.
Fresno Police on March 4 exchanged shots with and killed a man who fled a traffic stop. Police said they used patrol cruisers to strike the suspect’s car, which spun out of control near Herndon and Ingram avenues.
State Attorney General Rob Bonta said the California Department of Justice would review the fatal encounter and provide an independent review under Assembly Bill 1506.
The Fresno Police had three officer-involved shootings at this time last year, Balderrama said.
It is possible, the chief said, that the man shot to death late Saturday was attempting suicide by cop or had mental health issues, given the interaction between police and the victim.
“At this point, that is a possibility,” Balderrama said. “The suspect’s incoherence and lack of communication, it could be mental health issues, it could be substance abuse. At this point, we just don’t know. Later, when they do the toxicology, we’ll get more information and discover whether there were any intoxicants in the person’s system.
“This is highly unusual. The officers have to look into it. I mean, It’s after 11 o’clock, it’s near a secure facility. There’s really no reason why this individual should be by the police gate. We don’t know if he went there on purpose, knowing that he would encounter a police officer.”
Balderrama said he had watched the video of the incident and said the officers attempted to communicate with the individual and de-escalate the situation with no response.
“He was really having none of that,” he said. “One of the things I noticed is that as the officers were talking and trying to de-escalate, this person was not engaging at all. I saw a sense of desperation, the way he was acting, and right before he came toward the officers in an aggressive manner with a knife in his hand, that’s when the officers were forced to discharge their weapons.”