Officer Justified in Fatal Shooting of Man Armed With Knife

Police say the man was armed with a knife when he crawled out the driver's side window in an Orange strip mall parking lot

An officer was justified in the fatal shooting of a man armed with a knife after a tense hourlong standoff in a strip mall parking lot earlier this year, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Orange Officer Carlos Gutierrez killed Michael Anthony Perez, 33, March 13 after a traffic stop and standoff. Police used a fire hose to flush Perez out of the minivan when he threatened to light a gas can on fire.

The shooting happened after police tried to pull Perez over for a broken tail light and discovered he had a warrant for driving without a valid license, Orange County Assistant District Attorney Ibrahim Baytieh said Wednesday in a news conference announcing the decision.

As part of the news conference, prosecutors showed reporters a 12-minute video that showed the conflict from every angle. It is part of a new policy to increase awareness of officer-involved shooting investigations, officials said.

Surrounded by police in a bustling strip mall parking lot, Perez refused to get out of the minivan, Baytieh said. He stuffed a towel into a gas can and threatened to light it, telling police he didn't want to go back to jail.

In an unusual move, police used a fire hose to flush him out.

He crawled out the driver's-side window and struggled with an officer. Bean bag rounds fired by police failed to subdue him.

Gutierrez fired when Perez tried to reach for a knife while struggling with another officer, Baytieh said.

Perez was a father of six children ages 3 to 18. He had a criminal history dating to 2001 that included arrests for DUI, drug possession, assault with a deadly weapon, and weapon possession.

His former wife filed a restraining order against him a month before he died, saying he was delusional, suicidal, and violent, Baytieh said. He had given a family member a suicide note a few weeks before he was killed.

His daughter, Monique Perez, questioned why police used a fire hose to flush her father out of the van.

"He was goofy and funny and he was just outgoing and I miss him," she said. "I feel like the cops shouldn't have did that at all."

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