Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin says officers were justified in fatally shooting a 26-year-old man outside the Mi Pueblo store on East Alisal Friday.
McMillin says Osman Hernandez told officers in Spanish to "please forgive me" as they approached him, and that he then exposed his knife. Investigators said he then began removing the knife from his waistband and was getting off the ground. He looked like he was going to attack the officers, police officials said at a press conference Thursday.
McMillin and other police department leaders said the officer uses the force of threat because they feared for their safety, and there were people in the shopping center who were genuinely fearful for their safety because of Hernandez.
Police had responded to the shopping center for reports of a man brandishing a knife.
Three two officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave but have since been cleared for duty as most of the investigation has concluded.
Chief McMillin says he is satisfied with all the steps the officers used before using firearm.
Earlier this week, police said Hernandez had no prior criminal record in Salinas. Police used a stun gun on him before firing their guns.
The shooting sparked outrage within the community, with conflicting reports of how the incident went down.
Meanwhile, Hernandez' family has obtained the help of civil rights attorney Christopher Dolan and the Dolan Law Firm in San Francisco in seeking an unbiased review of the case.
In a press release sent out by the law firm, a family spokesperson said “they killed Osman like a dog as he lay on the ground. Why are we to trust them investigating themselves? Why does it take so many bullets to the head to subdue a man who is already lying on the ground? Osman’s life had value – We want the truth!”
Dolan said that based on eye witness reports, the incident appears to be an example of excessive use of force.
"Mr. Hernandez didn’t even have a weapon in his hand when he was gunned down," Dolan said. "The police, given the ultimate power by us, the citizens, owe each of us a duty to use only the minimum amount of force necessary. Officers are trained how to disarm a suspect and it’s not by shooting them in the head over and over!"
Dolan says he plans to have private investigators and have Hernandez' body transferred to a private pathologist for analysis of the bullet trajectories and gunshot residue.
At this time, no decision has been made as to whether the family will file a lawsuit against the police department.