Written by The Business Journal Staff
(AP) — Police in Southern California fatally shot a man who they say pulled a knife after he was forced from his locked vehicle by blasts from a fire hose.
The man locked himself in the minivan late Sunday with a gas can and lighter, and the hose was employed after he lit a cigarette and poured what appeared to be gasoline onto a rag, Orange police Lt. Fred Lopez said.
Police in the city 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles broke the front passenger-side window and blasted the man with water.
“We felt this guy was going to light himself on fire or blow the car up,” Lopez said.
Video aired by KABC-TV (http://bit.ly/2mDxpTR ) showed that moments after the water was sprayed and police broke additional windows, the shirtless man climbed out head-first through the driver’s-side window.
He stumbled to the ground before jumping to his feet. Officers tried to arrest him when he reached behind his back and pulled out a knife, Lopez said.
In the video, the man was partially blocked from view by another vehicle after he climbed out and struggled with officers. No weapon is seen but a voice is heard yelling “knife” moments before two shots rang out.
A non-lethal round of rubber projectiles was ineffective so officers used lethal force, Lopez said. The man, described as a 33-year-old Orange resident, was hit by a single bullet and pronounced dead at a hospital, police said.
“We try to use less lethal rounds, but it is not always possible,” Lopez said.
The man was not immediately identified but authorities said he had a criminal record that included weapons and drugs violations. Thorsen said an active warrant was out in connection with the minivan.
The man was pulled over for a broken tail light and the incident played out over a 20 to 30-minute span near a 24-hour laundry and other businesses in a surrounding strip mall, police said.
“I had never seen anything like that,” said Fabian Huerta, who watched with surprise as police started spraying water into the van. “I thought he was going to surrender.”
Huerta, who works cleaning businesses at the strip mall, said in Spanish that he saw an officer grab the suspect by the hand before he heard gunshots.
The shooting was being investigated by the county district attorney’s office.
It was the second fatal shooting by police in California’s Orange County in a four-day period. On Thursday, police in the city of Huntington Beach shot and killed a man who a witness said was chasing children with what looked like a broken wine bottle at a sports complex.