Anaheim motorcycle cop Steven Anderson made an anything-but-routine traffic stop around 2:40 p.m. on June 8, 2015 when he pulled over a brown Chevy Suburban by La Palma Park. The vehicle had been speeding, and Anderson wrote up the ticket when a black Ford F150 suddenly pulled up next to them. Anderson thought the driver wanted to ask for directions. “Motherfucker,” Rene Garcia yelled at Anderson instead when he exited his truck. “Fuck cops!”
According to an Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) investigation, the situation quickly escalated when Garcia pulled a concealed 9-inch butcher knife out and brandished it towards the motorcycle cop. Garcia returned to his truck and searched the interior. Anderson thought he might have been retrieving a gun.
Around the same time as the traffic stop, Anaheim police officer Yesenia Escobar had been helping out with the Homeless Enforcement Team at La Palma Park. She caught sight of Garcia running towards Anderson with a knife in hand. The cop pointed his gun at Garcia and ordered him multiple times to drop the weapon before opening fire on Garcia.
Escobar pulled up to the scene in her patrol car and heard the shots. Garcia, slowed but not downed, advanced past Anderson and towards Escobar with the knife still in hand. She shot him twice before he finally collapsed. Transferred to UCI Medical Center in Orange, Garcia was pronounced dead about thirty minutes later.
The investigation notes that Garcia’s brother told the OCDA that the slain man suffered from years of mental illness. He added that two or three weeks before the shooting, Garcia watched YouTube videos about “suicide by cop” scenarios. Digital audio recorders are cited throughout to corroborate certain moments of the officer-involved shooting. Body worn cameras were also part of the investigation, but the report merely mentions them as an aside without detailing what they reveal. The OCDA found the shooting to be within policy all the same.
“Officers Anderson and Escobar were justified when they shot Garcia,” the legal analysis concludes. “They carried out their duties as peace officers in a reasonable, lawful and justifiable manner.”
As always, read the report in its entirety online.