The family of a man shot to death by Tustin police officers Monday morning are questioning the use of lethal force and the way the mother of the deceased was informed of her 23-year-old son's death.
The end for Robert Villa came when the Tustin Police Department received an 11:35 a.m. call Monday about a family disturbance in the 1400 block of Nisson Road.
“When officers arrived, they were confronted with a male adult suspect armed with a knife,” reads a statement from Tustin Police Sgt. Andrew Birozy. “An officer-involved shooting ensued and the suspect was struck.”
The man was taken to Western Medical Center Santa Ana in critical condition, but he later died, said Birozy, who added the Orange County District Attorney's office is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
Birozy's statement does not identify the deceased, who actually had yet to be named by the department as this post went up. But Vicenta Hernandez, Robert Villa's cousin, confirms via Facebook he was the dead man.
“I live [in] Fontana and made my way to Orange County once I heard the devastating news that he had been shot four times in front of my aunt Leticia Villa,” Hernandez writes. “My aunt was left without answers for hours until Western Medical staff advised her that my cousin Robert had passed.”
Hernandez adds “it is my opinion” that the Tustin officers “should have took different actions to put my cousin down.”
She wrote of Villa, “He had an unknown object in his hand, and I believe being shot four times in front of his mother is wrong in every single way. I want justice and want people to know my cousin wasn't a bad person; he was smart and very friendly …”
Villa leaves behind a son, Hernandez added. His Facebook page indicates he worked at Freeway Honda in Santa Ana, attended Santiago High School in
Corona Garden Grove and Santa Ana College and liked the Dallas Cowboys.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.