Orange County, CA — A graphic video captured the final moments of a troubled father of six, who’s since been identified as Michael Anthony Perez. The incident began as a traffic stop, however, it quickly escalated to a deadly situation.
On Sunday, around 11:15 pm, an Orange County police officer attempted to pull over Perez for a broken tail light. According to police, during the traffic stop, they found a warrant associated with the license plate.
According to police, Perez initially refused to stop, but eventually pulled over in the parking lot of a strip mall in Anaheim. That is when the routine traffic stop took a turn for the worse.
Update on Officer Involved Shooting. Suspect identified as 33 year old Michael Anthony Perez. pic.twitter.com/mxT5sokzx6
— Orange PD (@OrangePolice) March 13, 2017
Perez, who according to his widow, was a drug addict and had been living in his van for a year, began acting very strange when officers approached. Instead of getting his license and registration, Perez barricaded himself in the vehicle with a gas can and a lighter.
“At this point, the officers were no longer concerned about the traffic ticket,” Orange Police lieutenant Fred Lopez said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Perez then poured gas on a cloth and lit a cigarette.
“It was, do we have a suicide? Do we have other incendiary devices inside the vehicle? That’s why a plan was devised to get him out of the vehicle.”
In an attempt to preserve life and prevent a fire, officers on the scene came up with a rather intuitive plan — they called the Orange County Fire Department and requested an engine to assist them. If Perez was going to try to light himself on fire, police and firefighters were going to make it very hard for him.
When the fire truck arrived, police distracted Perez while other officers smashed out his windows with their batons. Then they deployed the fire hose and sprayed a massive amount of high-pressure water into the van — effectively rendering any attempt at starting a fire null.
“I’ve been here for 22 years. I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard of a plan like this. I think it was an excellent idea to use the water to prevent him from lighting himself on fire,” Lopez told KABC.
Their plan went off without a hitch and Perez was unable to start the fire. However, after Perez exited the van and was surround by multiple cops, he allegedly had a knife. While none of the other officers on the scene felt the need to escalate to deadly force, apparently one officer did.
A single shot was fired into the torso of Perez and he went down. Perez was then brought to the hospital where he would die.
A news release from the Orange Police Department says that they attempted to use “less lethal munition,” but they were not effective in subduing Perez. The less than lethal weapon attempts are also not in the video below.
Perez was later identified by his sister, Lovina Perez, who told KTLA, “He is not just another person shot by the police, he is a son, brother, and father.”
It is truly a shame to watch all the great police work to preserve life get ruined by a single officer who felt the need to result to deadly force. Although the video below cuts off just before the fatal shot is fired, it is still graphic.