A man with a “replica firearm” was shot and killed Wednesday during a confrontation with Los Banos police officers.
Police were called at 12:22 p.m. to investigate a report of a man with a gun in the area of G and Seventh Streets, Police Chief Gary Brizzee told reporters late Wednesday afternoon.
The chief said two officers located the man and were speaking to him for a short time. Brizzee said the man acknowledged having a weapon tucked into his “waistline” but did not follow “basic commands” from police, which Brizzee described as placing his hands in the air and getting down onto his knees.
“Suddenly the man lifts up his shirt with one hand and he retrieves the firearm, the handgun, and begins to withdraw it from his waistline,” Brizzee said.
In response, the chief said, one of the officers fired one shot, striking the man in the abdomen. The man, whose name was not released, was taken to an area hospital where he later died. Investigators later confirmed the object was not a real gun, but a replica painted black, according to Brizzee.
The chief described the incident as tragic and spoke in support of the officers involved.
“Anytime a police officer is required to take a life, it’s a tragic incident,” Brizzee said.
Police said they believe they know who the man was but were working to confirm his identity late Wednesday.
While only one officer opened fire Wednesday, both officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave, a standard law enforcement procedure in any officer-involved shooting.
“The officers were involved in a critical incident, significant incident, so we want to take care of them,” Brizzee said.
The names of the officers were not released Wednesday.
Brizzee confirmed the incident was captured on police body cameras. He said it was too early in the investigation to release any footage to the public.
It's the first officer-involved shooting in Los Banos in almost exactly a year and comes a day after authorities confirmed the shooting on July 31, 2017, by Los Banos police of 39-year-old Norberto Nieblas Reyes was determined to be a justified use of force, according to the Merced County District Attorney's Office.
Wednesday’s shooting also marks the second officer-involved shooting of 2018 in Merced County.
Merced County sheriff’s deputies and a probation officer shot and killed a man March 30 inside a home on Atwater Boulevard in Atwater. The man, later identified by authorities as 42-year-old Timothy Breckenridge, was holding a replica gun and did not drop the object despite numerous orders from the deputies to do so. The Merced County District Attorney’s Office also determined the officers acted appropriately when they opened fire on Breckenridge.