Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin says every effort was made by his officers to end a standoff Wednesday morning with an unidentified, knife-wielding suspect at the corner of Enos and Broadway in downtown Santa Maria without injury or loss of life.
“At one point he started cutting his throat and at another point he started stabbing himself”, Chief Martin says, “officers deployed less than lethal weapons, consisting of bean bag shotguns, the hard 40-millimeter hard balls and he did go down, but he didn’t let go of the knife, and at one point he got back up and we have a video that clearly shows he charged the officers and at that point three of the officers on scene fired their duty weapons.”
The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, died later at the hospital from the gunshot wounds.
The deadly police shooting triggered emotional reactions from people who were watching it happen, with some voicing support and others opposed to the police action.
Chief Martin says the deadly shooting is unrelated to other police and law enforcement action that has sparked national outrage across the country.
“This incident is unique, this is not part of what is going on nationally”, Chief Martin said Wednesday afternoon, “this person I believe had some mental issues, and we tried to do the best we could, and I don’t like the outcome, I don’t like the outcome that we had to use deadly force on somebody, but at the same time those officers are going to go home tonight after somebody charges at them with a large kitchen knife.”
Santa Maria Police, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office will all conduct investigations into the shooting Wednesday morning to see if it complied with department policy and was justified.
The names of the SMPD officers who fired on the suspect have not been released.
Its unclear if they have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal and external investigations, which is standard policy for most law enforcement agencies.