SAN JOSE (CBS SF/BCN) — A Gilroy parolee wanted in a string of violent crimes who was shot and killed by San Jose police officers was unarmed at the time of the shooting, the police department confirmed Monday.
Acting San Jose Police Chief David Tindall told reporters Monday that 27-year-old David Tovar Jr. was shot by officers Thursday as he reached into his waistband at an apartment complex on 200 block of La Pala Drive near McKee Road in the Alum Rock neighborhood.READ MORE: Homebuyers In Northern California 'High Fire Zones' See Insurance Rates Go Through The Roof
Tovar, who police characterized as a documented gang member, was wanted in connection with a homicide and other shootings in Gilroy and Morgan Hill and had arrest warrants for weapons charges in San Jose. He was also suspected of more than a dozen robberies and auto thefts police said.
Tindall said three officers armed with rifles confronted Tovar in the courtyard of the Villa Fairlane apartment complex, with the officers on the ground floor and Tovar on a second-floor landing, which gave him “a distinct advantage against officers on the ground,” said Tindall.
“Tovar then ran along the walkway toward one officer who could see Tovar pulling what he believed to the butt of a handgun from his jacket,” said Tindall. “Perceiving an immediate threat, three officers fired their department issued rifles at Tovar.”
Tovar was hit, falling to the floor. He was given life-saving measures and taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
After the shooting, police recovered found a screwdriver in Tovar’s pocket and a cellphone on the floor where Tovar was shot, but no gun was found.
Tindall did not identify the officers involved in the shooting but said they were veterans of the department with between 13 and 15 years experience, He also said there were no immediate plans to release the officers’ names “due to the covert nature of their assignments.”
Rosie Chavez, an organizer with Silicon Valley De-Bug, said regardless of Tovar’s record, and especially considering he was unarmed, his death was not justified.
“I get the fact that he was known to commit crimes but that is exactly why we have a criminal justice system,” Chavez said. “He was killed before he had the chance to be proven guilty or innocent.”
She also noted that many family members disputed Tovar’s involvement in the offenses and said they had been left in the dark regarding the circumstances of the shooting.READ MORE: COVID: Mask Uncertainty Reigns As Bay Area Health Officials Push To Loosen Guidelines
Tindall, however, said there was ample evidence, including DNA, video and eyewitness reports, linking Tovar to the offenses.
Chavez said while the Monday news conference effectively detailed Tovar’s suspected offenses, it failed to display the impacts of “police violence in the community.”
She said when she went to talk to the residents of the complex on Monday, she saw at least eight bullet holes in the walls and windows of apartments.
“There were kids on the other side of the shooting,” Chavez said. “Police just terrorized and frightened this whole community right here at the complex.”
She also noted the tactics of a covert police response unit, which approached the San Jose complex in unmarked vehicles and unmarked clothes, and neither had the capability nor the intention to de-escalate the situation.
“I know this because they did the same thing with my nephew who was killed by SJPD in 2017,” Chavez said. “He was unarmed and complying with his hands up.”
Tindall said the three officers involved in the shooting received crisis intervention training – an official de-escalation training for police. He also confirmed all three officers had their body-worn cameras on and the footage will be released in the next 30 to 45 days in accordance with state law.
“Residents and public will be able to see what the officers saw,” Tindall said. “The investigation will speak for itself; the facts will speak for themselves.”
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