SAN JOSR (CBS SF) — San Jose’s newest top cop addressed multiple controversies swirling around his selection, including a deadly officer-involved shooting early in his career and allegation of bias against the LGBTQ and Muslim communities.
“I was involved in an incident 22 years ago resulting in the death of a man. It was a tragic incident that changed my life. It’s something that I don’t want any officer to go through,” Chief Anthony Mata told reporters at a press conference announcing his selection as the next chief for the department.READ MORE: San Jose Hit-and-Run Victim Assaulted After Confronting Escalade Driver
In 1999, Mata shot and killed an African-American robbery suspect in Salinas. Mata says he thought the suspect was armed but what he believed to be a weapon turned out to be a pair of sunglasses instead. Critics say the shooting should have made the city think twice about hiring him.
“No one disputes the fact. No one disputes that fact that he killed an unarmed black man. And that’s disqualifying for the Chief of Police for the city of San Jose in my view,” says Assemblyman Evan Low.
Despite the shooting, Mata has his defenders, including Rev. Jeff Moore, the President of the Silicon Valley NAACP.READ MORE: UPDATE: Mom Who Threw Drunken Teen Sex Parties at Los Gatos Home to Be Arraigned
“He protects and serves the entire community regardless of their status, gender or ethnicity. He’s here to protect and serve them. And he believes that,” says Rev. Moore who served as a character reference on Mata’s application for chief.
Mata’s candidacy was nearly derailed in the 11th hour when a former transgender officer wrote the city, claiming he didn’t support her transition and feared he would create an environment hostile to other LGBTQ officers.
The city attorney’s office was not able to substantiate the allegations of bias. Gabrielle Antolovich, President of the Board of the Billy DeFrank Center spoke on behalf of the new chief at the press conference.MORE NEWS: Fresno Search And Rescue Team Finds Palo Alto Hiker Missing For 48 Hours
“Time will tell and the community will know if Chief Mata is going to follow through on supporting the LGBTQ community,” Antolovich said.