WHITTIER (CBSLA) — The family of a man who was killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies after causing a commotion in a Whittier neighborhood with a machete and a knife say he never showed any signs of violence before.
“We call them for help, but instead of helping, they killed him,” said Frank Mosqueda, who says he was the uncle of 37-year-old Mark Antonio Vasquez.
Deputies responded to the area of Waddell Street and Norwalk for the first time at 8 p.m. Sunday to check into reports of a man with a machete yelling and banging on windows. A mental health evaluation team was also sent in to check on the man, later identified as Vasquez, who was determined to not be a threat. Authorities decided no crime had been committed he could be left with family members.
A different group of deputies were called out to the neighborhood a second time at about 10:30 p.m. This time, Vasquez reportedly was holding a knife to a woman’s throat and said he wanted to be shot by cops. There was no time to call for a psychiatric team again, authorities said.
“Kind of parked a short distance down the street to formulate a game plan, so to speak,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred of how deputies responded to the neighborhood a second time. “However, upon stopping nearby they could hear the commotion, they could hear that they needed to take immediate action, and they drove into the cul-de-sac where they encountered the suspect in the driveway.”
Sheriff’s officials say Vasquez advanced on the deputies, and they opened fire, killing him. A knife was recovered at the scene.
“They could have shot him with a bean bag, shot him in the legs,” Mosqueda said, shaking his head.
Mosqueda said his nephew, who was known in the family as Tonito, may have been ill, but had never before been violent.
“My sister said that his brother was grazed by a bullet. I don’t know if it cut any skin or not, but she says that’s how they were shooting — indiscriminately,” he said.
No one else was hurt in the shooting, which remains under investigation.