SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — An eyewitness recorded cellphone video of a Santa Ana police officer shoot and kill an unarmed 22-year-old homeless man at a shopping center earlier this week.
The witness, who wished to remain unidentified, was standing in the parking lot of the Harbor Place Shopping Center on South Harbor Boulevard around 3 p.m. Tuesday when he said he filmed a confrontation in front of Jugo’s La Tropicana between an officer, later identified as a 13-year veteran, and victim Hans Kevin Arellano.
“She exited her patrol car, gun drawn, and asked the gentlemen to get on the ground. The gentlemen didn’t get on the ground, he was still inside the restaurant. She asked again. The man then exited the restaurant, and as he was exiting the restaurant, he said, ‘What are you gonna do, b—-?’ About a second later, she shot him in the chest,” he said.
CBS2’s Michele Gile showed officers the footage of the incident.
“Obviously this is the first time we’ve seen this,” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department. “This is something that is going to be a key piece of evidence. It’s something that we encourage people, if they have, to bring forward. This needs to get in the hands of the D.A. and our detectives. Like the chief said yesterday, we’re trying to be open and honest. There’s three separate investigations that are going on simultaneously. This portion, as the chief said, I can’t comment on.”
Arellano’s relatives were horrified when they viewed the video and believe the officer shouldn’t have used lethal force.
“I believe they should have Tased him, hit him with a baton, anything, but not shot him to kill him,” said Arellano’s niece, Yenniffer Moreno.
At a press conference Wednesday, Santa Ana interim Police Chief Carlos Rojas said Arellano, a convicted burglar, was “combative” when he initially got into altercations with various people in a McDonald’s parking lot.
When authorities arrived to the scene, Arellano ran to nearby juice bar, where the shooting unfolded.
“It was a confrontation. It wasn’t a casual conversation,” Rojas said.
When asked why the officer didn’t Taser the man, Rojas said, “Could the officer have had other options? There’s always a lot of different options you have in these situations. It really comes down to the mindset of the officer at that time and what threat they may have been facing.”
Meantime, family members and friends gathered for a vigil Thursday night in front of Jugo’s La Tropicana.
An older sister of Arellano told KCAL9′s Tom Wait that her mother is in Mexico and in a lot of pain.
A translator said, “They haven’t seen any TV or anything or what’s going on because their mom is in Mexico and all she cares about is the suffering of her mom in Mexico.”