Video shows California officer yanking driver's arm before fatal shooting

A new video depicting the moments before a fatal police standoff this week shows a motorist reaching behind his back just before a shot was fired.

The graphic video obtained by the Associated Press comes days after the bizarre standoff in a strip mall parking lot in Orange.

According to police, Michael Anthony Perez was driving a white GMC van about 11:15 p.m. Sunday when officers tried to pull him over for an inoperable tail light, as well as an active warrant associated with the license plate.

The 33-year-old Orange resident refused to stop but eventually pulled into the parking lot in the 100 block of West Katella Avenue, police said. He rolled down his window, and officers commanded him to exit the vehicle, but he refused, according to Orange Police Lt. Fred Lopez, a police department spokesman.

Perez produced a fuel canister, then poured liquid onto a rag and lighted a cigarette. Officers could smelled gasoline, so they moved toward the van.

The 36-second video shows at least seven officers descending on the van — some with their guns drawn. The officers peered into the van as another officer tried to open the driver’s side door.

As two officers hit the van’s passenger windows with their batons, other officers used a fire hose to spray high-pressure water into the vehicle.

Seconds later, one of the passenger windows shattered and a torrent of water gushed out.

The video shows Perez crawling out of the driver’s side window as officers continued spray water.

When Perez fell onto the ground, an officer grabbed Perez’s left hand and held onto him. As several officers moved in toward Perez, a loud bang could be heard in the video.

The video shows Perez moving his right hand behind his back as the officer continued to yank onto Perez’s left hand.

Perez appeared to swiftly move his right hand forward just before he fell to the ground and a shot was fired.

Lopez said Perez reached behind his back and “at some point, he brandished a knife.” One officer “fired a single round, which struck the suspect in the upper torso,” he said.

Perez was taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, police said. Police described Perez as a man with an “extensive criminal history, which included weapons violations and narcotics.”

On Friday, Lopez said several videos showing the shooting have been turned over to the Orange County district attorney’s office, which is investigating the case.

He declined to comment on the new video.

“Once the DA's office has completed their investigation and revealed their findings to us, we will reevaluate if an updated press release is appropriate,” Lopez said.

Susan Kang Schroeder, a district attorney’s office spokeswoman, said prosecutors will “evaluate every piece of evidence available.”

The investigation into the shooting could take a few months, she said.

Geoff Alpert, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina who has researched police procedures, said the officers’ use of a fire hose was creative and the least dangerous way to gain control of the situation.

Alpert said he couldn’t comment on the fatal shooting itself because he doesn’t know if the officers’ felt threatened or if there was a risk to public safety.

“What was he doing with the knife?” Alpert said. “There are all sorts of questions.”

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA

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