Witness video shows Visalia Police negotiating before fatal officer-involved shooting

Crime
February 07 2021 03:30 pm

VISALIA, California (KGPE) – A witness’ video caught the final moments of a deadly officer-involved shooting in Visalia on Wednesday.

Police said they opened fire on a bank robbery suspect after he refused to drop his gun.

Cameron Ziessler recorded with his cell phone for several minutes as police pleaded with the man to drop his weapon.

“It was so redundant. It was so many times ‘Put your gun down. Put your gun down. Take your hand off your gun. Throw your gun off to the side. Put your gun off to the side. Put your gun down’ and so, I mean, they gave him every, every opportunity,” Ziessler said.

The incident happened on Court Street, near Laura Avenue after officers were called to a nearby robbery at Tri Counties Bank.

Tellers told police they believed the suspect had a gun, was white or Hispanic, and left in a gray Chevrolet truck with the tailgate down.

Arriving officers spotted a vehicle matching the description. After a felony traffic stop police said the suspect got out and moved a handgun in their direction. That’s when officers shot him. He again allegedly pointed his gun up, and they again opened fire. They said he moved the gun toward them one more time and they fired more shots, killing him.

Chief Jason Salazar said there were six officers involved in the shooting, and a hostage negotiator was on the scene.

“Unfortunately the suspect armed himself and refused to drop the weapon. So while it’s tragic, I’m thankful that the officers weren’t hurt. I’m thankful that nobody else in our community was hurt and good work by them getting the suspect into custody,” he said.

Ziessler believes officers did what they had to to keep his neighborhood safe, and says he feels for everyone involved, including the suspect.

“This is just an unfortunate situation and me not even knowing him my heart still breaks because he’s got a family. He’s got siblings. I’m sure that he has people who care about him too,” he said.

The officers involved are described as veterans of the department with between 16 and 28 years of experience. Salazar said they all activated their body cameras and investigators are reviewing the footage. The suspect has not yet been identified. Police do not believe he fired his weapon.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s office will handle the officer-involved shooting portion of the investigation.

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