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Video Captures Salinas Police Fatally Shooting Man With Garden Shears On Busy Street Corner

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Still frame of YouTube video shows two Salinas police officer moments before fatally the man in the center who allegedly waved gardening shears. (Curtis McHenry/YouTube)

Still frame of YouTube video shows two Salinas police officer moments before fatally shooting the man in the center who allegedly waved gardening shears. (Curtis McHenry/YouTube)

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SALINAS (CBS SF) — Police shot and killed a man allegedly swinging a pair of garden shears toward them on a busy Salinas street corner Tuesday afternoon in an incident that was recorded by one of dozens of witnesses and posted on YouTube.

The officers had responded to reports from a resident of Elkington Avenue at 12:14 p.m. that a man, identified as 44-year-old Carlos Mejia, was trying to break into their home and was threatening to kill them, police said.

Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin on May 22 released tapes of the woman’s 911 call in which a dispatcher told police, “she advises that he is grabbing her dog and trying to choke it.”

When police arrived, they soon found Mejia walking down Del Monte Avenue holding garden shears, pointing the shears at them and refusing to put the instrument down as the officers, speaking Spanish, commanded him to do, according to McMillin.

A video captured by a witness and posted to YouTube shows the two officers following Mejia with guns drawn as he walks down the street toward a busy  intersection.

The officers attempted to use their Tasers on the suspect to subdue him, but the cartridge from one officer’s Taser missed hitting Mejia  and the other officer’s Taser did not work, McMillin said.

The two officers decided to use deadly force on Mejia to prevent him from possibly harming people inside a bakery as he approached the  entrance to the business at the corner of Del Monte and Sanborn, McMillin said.

Witnesses are heard screaming on the video, including one woman who yells, “Why the f— didn’t you guys just Taser him? You guys didn’t even try.”

McMillin pledged to send copies of the Police Department’s investigative reports on the shootings of Mejia and Hernandez to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division for review and to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.

The Police Department is not going to release the names of the two officers who fired their service weapons and killed Mejia, said Salinas police spokesman Spencer Critchley. Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

It is the third fatal officer-involved shooting reported in Salinas this year and the second this month.

On May 9, police shot and killed a man who allegedly threatened them with a knife while they were attempting to handcuff him in a shopping center parking lot at 880 E. Alisal St. at about 7:20 p.m.

On March 20, police shot and killed Angel Francisco Ruiz, 42, of Salinas, after he allegedly threatened them with a replica firearm outside the Wingstop restaurant at 1488 Constitution Blvd. at about 9:50 p.m.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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