SAN DIEGO — The family of a man shot and killed by a San Diego police officer said the details don’t add up and they want an independent investigation into the officer-involved shooting.
On Saturday night, officers responded to the 5800 block of Adelaide Avenue in El Cerrito after a 70-year-old woman reported that her 52-year-old nephew had thrown a brick at her.
The sister of the caller, another aunt of the suspect, said she’s shocked that police used deadly force. When FOX 5 first spoke to Sally Carolino, she was crying and praying in her backyard. Carolino said her nephew had mental health issues that would cause him to act out — but never violently.
“There’s a lot of blood,” Carolino said as she stood near the blood-stained area where her nephew was shot. “Not like this, not like this.”
Carolino said her nephew suffered from mental health issues but was never violent. She said she wants answers because the story she’s heard doesn’t add up. “He’s innocent, but he’s mentally disabled. He’s a nice guy,” Carolino said.
San Diego police received the call from Carolino’s sister just before 8 p.m. Saturday. Two officers arrived at the scene, which then escalated into the officer-involved shooting.
The 52-year-old was struck one time. Despite life-saving efforts by officers and medics, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
“She’s trying to call the police for help because sometimes he has mental issues and he talks bad — only talking bad. Then the police came,” Carolino said.
Police said the suspect advanced on the officers while swinging a shovel. He was then tased by an officer but continued to advance, prompting the other officer to discharge his weapon.
One of the officers involved was a four-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, while the other was a 16-year department veteran. Neither of the officers were injured, nor was the 70-year-old female caller.
“We were right next door, you know?” said a next-door neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous. The neighbor was hosting a housewarming barbecue when he said he heard five gunshots. He told FOX 5 the incident sounded suspicious because it was completely silent prior to the shooting. “It’s weird, I didn’t hear any screaming. It’s an interesting story,” he said.
Carolino said there were no witnesses other than her sister and the officers because the shooting happened in their covered and secluded yard. “Not like that; not like that. Even if he has mental problems, he’s a very good guy. All of the family loves him,” Carolino said.
The family has called for an independent investigation and is waiting for the San Diego Police Department to release its body-worn camera footage from the shooting. A new law that went into effect on July 1 requires the San Diego Police Department to release body-worn camera footage involved in incidents like these within 45 days.
“I have to figure out everything that’s going on,” Carolino said. “If it’s foul I wish he’d get the right justice.”
The officer who opened fire was placed on administrative leave from the Mid-City Division pending the investigation.
Police have not released the name of the victim, but his family identified him as 52-year-old Dennis Carolino.