10.26.2021 | 4:30 PM | TUSTIN – Body worn video recently obtained by County News Service provides additional insight into the fatal officer-involved shooting of a homeless man that was holding a pole earlier in the year.
The critical incident review video, provided by Tustin police in response to a public records request and apparently first uploaded by a law firm that regularly represents cities and police departments, sheds further light on the August 9 shooting involving Tustin police that claimed the life of Luis Manual Garcia and has spurred demands for justice by his family members.
In the video a police call taker can be heard taking information from a caller who reports that a man, who had been observed in days prior with a “large steak knife,” was seen in bushes behind the Saddleback Mobile Lodge.
“Male White, 30s, slim build, about 5′ 6″, blonde hair,” the caller says of the man’s description.
When officers arrived on scene around 10:00 AM they met with the calling party and were directed to the bushes where they later contacted Luis Manual Garcia, according to text edited into the video.
Two officers, one whose body worn video was released, and a second female officer who eventually discharges her firearm, are seen on the video approaching the bush where the Garcia was hidden within.
“Hey! Wake up. Come out with your hands up,” the second officer shouts. “Okay,” Garcia responds.
Then the second officer seemingly identifies Garcia as someone she is familiar with, “I know you. Come on.”
Garcia then responds but it is unclear from the video what he says.
An increasingly tense exchange continued as officers gave commands to Garcia, ordering him to come out with his hands up. Garcia responds in English and Spanish at some points, asking the officers to let him out and then saying he is waiting for his friend, and later, collecting recyclables, according to translations added to the video.
Garcia then appears on the video appearing to exit the bush, just over a minute after officers first make contact with him, both officers grab at him. He then retreats back into the bush, again saying, “I’m doing recyclables,” and, “hey, don’t hit me.”
The first officer then identifies that Garcia is holding a stick and both officers step back, one drawing her firearm and the other his taser.
As Garcia remerges on the video, just seconds later, he can be seen holding a long white pole and a clear bag as he exits the bush.
A taser is then deployed by the first officer and Garcia, appearing stunned, slowly backs into the bush before the effects of the taser seemingly waned.
Garcia then comes back out of the bush as the second officer steps back into another bush behind her and fires the first of two gunshots.
Garcia then appears to be running away from the gunfire towards a third officer when the second officer fires a second and final shot.
Still running, Garcia is tackled by the third officer and taken into custody before officers rendered aid and summoned firefighter paramedics to the scene.
Garcia was later transported to a local hospital where he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
The video provides some insight into a shooting the man’s family thinks could have been prevented through through the use of non-lethal tools.
Family members described Garcia as a father of three who struggled with mental health issues.
His nephew, Christian Garcia, told ABC7 Eyewitness News, that Garcia “was homeless” but “not violent” and “not the type to carry weapons.”
It remains unclear if Garcia was the man who was reportedly seen with a knife days prior or if a knife or other weapon was found near him at the scene.
Still the incident remains under investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Justice.