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Release Date/Time: 5/22/2014 5:46 PM
Incident: Press Conference
Date: Thursday, 5/22/2014
Time: 5:46 PM
Location: Salinas Police Department
Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin Provides New Information on Officer-Involved Shooting
Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin today provided new information on the officer-involved shooting that occurred near the corner of Del Monte Avenue and N. Sanborn Road on May 20, 2014.
Chief McMillin played audio of the 911 call related to the incident, as well as video from a security camera and a cell phone.
At 12:14 pm on that day, two police officers responded to a 911 call from a woman who said a man was threatening her and trying to break into her house. The Chief identified the man as Carlos Mejia, 44.
The woman said the man was threatening her with tijeras, which was translated from Spanish as "scissors," although the weapon turned out to be garden shears. The woman said the man, using a vulgarity, told her he wanted to have sex with her and exposed himself. She said he also grabbed her small dog and began choking it.
The dispatcher advised that both the woman and the man were Spanish speakers, the responding officers called for an additional officer to serve as a translator.
The officers made contact with Mr. Mejia and repeatedly ordered him in English and in Spanish to halt and drop the weapon. Brandishing the shears, he refused to comply.
Both officers attempted to subdue him with their Tasers. The first Taser misfired. When the second one was fired, one of its contacts struck a telephone pole, rendering the shot ineffective.
The officers followed Mr. Mejia, continuing to order him to drop the weapon. As he neared the corner of Del Monte and Sanborn, he planted a foot, turned and lunged at the nearest officer, with the shears raised.
At that point the officers fired their pistols. Mr. Mejia died at the scene.
Chief McMillin played unedited versions of the 911 call and the two pieces of video footage, and also took reporters through the videos in zoomed-in and slowed-down modes, in order to make visible additional details of the sequence of events. The audio and video files were made available to reporters.
The Chief described the sequence, noting that he was unable to characterize it due to pending litigation. In general, he said, police officers are trained to use the level of force needed to stop a violent suspect depending on whether or not he is armed, his proximity, whether or not he his attacking and other factors.
He said he understood the deep concern and anger expressed by some members of the community, based on seeing a view of the shooting from across a street, as shown in the cell phone video. That video has been played on TV, the web and in social media. He said that while he was confident in the thoroughness and impartiality of the police department investigation that has begun, at the same time he wanted to take every measure to ensure trust in the process.
He announced that there will be three independent reviews of the department's investigation. One will be performed by the Monterey County District Attorney as standard procedure. The second will be done by the FBI, in parallel with the DA's review. The FBI will then forward its review to the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Justice, for a third reviews.
Chief McMillin was joined at the press conference by Salinas Mayor Joe Gunter, City Council Member Gloria de la Rosa and California Assembly member Luis Alejo. The three expressed confidence in the investigation under way and in the potential for communication at upcoming community meetings, while calling on residents to preserve peace and safety.
Release Authorized by: Cdr. Dave Shaw