SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Two veteran San Jose police officers lawfully shot and killed a hatchet-wielding man at a San Jose power plant earlier this year, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Thompson Nguyen, a San Jose man who suffered from mental illness, drove to the Metcalf Energy Center that day armed with two hatchets, three pipes, seven knives, nun chucks, a GoPro camera, and a sword.
During the confrontation the 27-year-old repeatedly asked officers to shoot him. The officers only fired after their de-escalation efforts failed and Nguyen advanced on them with a hatchet and a metal staff.
“Any reasonable officer would conclude that Nguyen, whether as a result of a mental health issue or not, had decided that he was going to die that day and that if he had to attack an officer with a weapon to make it happen, he was going to do so,” prosecutor David Boyd wrote in a 44-page report.
Around 5 p.m. on January 9, Nguyen drove to the plant on Blanchard Road, climbed over a fence and began to walk around the facility carrying a hatchet in one hand and a metal staff in the other.
Police arrived soon afterward and tried to get him to disarm.
Nguyen told responding officers, “Shoot me!” and “Kill me!” numerous times. One officer replied, “We don’t want to shoot.”
Ignoring orders to surrender, Nguyen advanced on the officers with his weapons. Officer Adam Hutson fired four shots. Officer Timothy Faye fired four more shots. Nguyen fell, mortally wounded. He was pronounced dead at the scene by San Jose Fire Paramedics at 5:37 p.m.
After the shooting, officers found a fake police badge and journals in Nguyen’s car in which he wrote that Metcalf employees had put microchips in his brain.
The San Jose Police Department referred all questions and comments regarding the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office.
The district attorney isn’t commenting either, but directed KPIX 5 to its report.
The report says Officer Hutson told investigators he was afraid Nguyen could attack him with the axe or get around him and attack the other officers with the axe.
While the report concluded the shooting was lawful, others have questions.
“Although he’s saying a lot of different things, he’s walking away from them, not toward them. That’s the troubling part of it,” said Richard Konda with the Asian Law Alliance.
The DA’s office confirmed that the officers were armed with Tasers. But Officer Hutson stated that there wasn’t time to use his Taser, his pepper spray or his baton.
“It seems like there should have been some way to de-escalate the situation. It seems as soon as the officers arrived, things got escalated,” said Konda.