Yakima, WA — On Christmas night, police in Yakima, Washington shot and killed two people within just a few miles of each other. One of the men shot at officers, so they returned fire. However, another person was shot and killed by police inside his own home and in spite of the fact that he was blind.
The suspect, Juan Miguel Garcia, a 31-year-old blind man, was gunned down in his apartment after police breached his door when he refused to open it.
According to the Yakima police department, officers responded to the Cascade Apartment complex around 7:30 p.m. on Christmas night to reports of a man allegedly threatening people with a gun.
When officers arrived on the scene, the 31-year-old blind man—who may or may not have been the person threatening individuals with a gun—was barricaded in his apartment, according to police.
Police noted that in spite of Garcia being in his home alone, they heard him talking as if other people were inside the apartment, indicating that he was in a diminished mental state. Police say they attempted to negotiate with the man for five hours but made no progress.
In an attempt to speed up the encounter, police then obtained a search warrant for Garcia’s home. A SWAT team then breached the door to the apartment. According to police, they continued their attempt to talk the man down for a few more minutes. However, this was apparently unsuccessful.
“…after a few minutes the situation deteriorated and two officers fired shots at the suspect killing him,” the police statement read.
Apparently, police felt that a man who could not see them was so much of a threat that they killed him.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Yakima police captain Jeff Schneider said that they can’t give any details as to why the officers opened fire on a blind man—”simply because we don’t know, because the officers haven’t been interviewed.”
Close to 48-hours after they killed a blind man in his own home, police have yet to even ask officers what happened, and this is apparently department policy.
Department policy requires investigators to wait 48 hours before approaching officers involved in shootings, and the officers reserve the right to consult with an attorney before answering questions in a criminal probe, Schneider said.
The department noted that officer Shane Stevie, 28, was one of the officers who fired on Garcia and he’s been with the department for three years. The other officer who shot a blind man is Patrick Shad, who is a 25-year-old rookie, having only been on the department for a year.
Naturally, during the press conference, Schneider said that Garcia had an “extensive” criminal record with assault charges. However, according to court records, the misdemeanor assault charges against him were all dismissed after he was found incompetent to stand trial.
Although police claim to have found a weapon in Garcia’s apartment, they did not state whether or not he was in possession of this weapon at the time he was killed. Also, they did not mention how a mentally ill blind man could pose a threat to heavily armed SWAT officers.
After the Yakima police department killed two people, including a blind man on Christmas, the very next day, they shot another man. In less than 24 hours, 5 police officers in this department have been placed on administrative leave for shooting people. Nothing to see here.
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