Family claims police used excessive force in shooting — (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

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San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Marshall Allen, Staff Writer

January 27, 2003

Family calls shooting death excessive force

PASADENA — The family of a man who was shot and killed by a Pasadena police officer is mourning his death and demanding justice for what they say was an excessive and brutal shooting.
“I look at everything from both sides and this was an injustice, there’s no other way to see it,’ said Antonio Mejia, one of the victim’s uncles.
The family of Javier Quezada Jr., 22, wept and clung to pictures and memories of the young man at their East Los Angeles home Friday.
Javier Quezada Jr. was shot to death at 5:40 p.m. Thursday at Las Encinas hospital, a psychiatric facility in the 2900 block of E. Del Mar Boulevard. Police base their version of the event on the accounts of at least six eyewitnesses and the officer involved, said Lt. Randell Taylor of the Pasadena Police Department.
Police said Javier Quezada Jr. lunged at the police officer with a pair of scissors before the officer shot him multiple times. Quezada later died at Huntington Hospital, according to authorities.
The officer, a 14-year veteran of the force whom police refused to identify, was called to the scene because the suspect was wielding the scissors and arguing with his father, Javier Quezada Sr., Taylor said.
Police officers don’t take special precautions when they respond to disturbances at mental hospitals, Taylor said. Two officers will respond to any disturbance, and more arrived in this situation because the suspect reportedly had a weapon, he said.
The officer had his gun drawn when he arrived, Taylor said. When the officer ordered Javier Quezada Jr. to the ground, the suspect refused, but did put the scissors in his pocket, Taylor said.
When the officer holstered his weapon, Javier Quezada Jr. pulled the scissors from his pocket and charged him, Taylor said. The officer shot him multiple times because he kept charging him, he said.
There wasn’t time to use less- than-lethal force like pepper spray or a bean bag gun, Taylor said.
Javier Quezada Sr. and his wife, Elsa Quezada, told a different story Friday. The day before, the parents said they had taken their son to the hospital for a 3 p.m. appointment so he could change his depression medication.
Javier Quezada Jr. was a person of impeccable character, they explained through their sobs. He loved playing guitar. He was never violent in the three years he struggled with depression.
The son was even going to donate a kidney to his ailing mother, the parents said. The surgery was scheduled for Wednesday.
“He said, ‘Ma, I’m going to give you my clean kidney so you have to take care of yourself once you get it,’ ‘ Elsa Quezada said.
The kidney could not be harvested after the shooting, the family said.
After checking in at Las Encinas, the parents said the family went to the parking lot to look at the cars, said Javier Quezada Sr. They said their son was acting anxious, and when they realized he was carrying a blunt- nosed pair of scissors in his pocket, they told him he needed to give them up. Javier Quezada Sr. said he went into the hospital to ask for assistance in getting the scissors from his son, then returned outside. In the meantime, hospital workers called the police.
When the officer arrived, he approached the three with his gun drawn, Javier Quezada Sr. said. The father pleaded with the officer to holster his gun, he said, while the young man hugged his mother.
“He said, ‘Ma! They’re going to kill me!’ ‘ Elsa Quezada said.
“No mijo, no mijo, (No my son, no my son) just throw down the scissors!’ Elsa Quezada said she replied to her son.
But Javier Quezada Jr. was scared and wouldn’t listen to his parents, they said.
When the officer approached within about 20 feet of the family, Javier Quezada Jr. pulled the scissors from his pocket and started running away from them and the policeman, Javier Quezada Sr. said.
The police officer then shot Javier Quezada Jr. several times until he fell to the ground, then several more times when he was on the ground, and more times when he stood up again, the father said.
“It was a bad situation and it escalated into a tragedy,’ said Mejia.
The Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office are conducting an investigation into the shooting, which will include an autopsy, Taylor said.
— Marshall Allen can be reached at (626) 578-6300 Ext. 4461