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2 Newport Beach police officers cleared in deadly shooting

Police shooting of mentally ill man in Newport Beach was justified, district attorney finds

Two Newport Beach police officers were justified when they shot and killed a 22-year-old mentally ill man in May, the Orange County district attorney's office has ruled.

Police shot Gerrit Vos four times — in the shoulder, chest and thigh — the evening of May 29, according to a 12-page letter released Wednesday that outlines an analysis of the fatal shooting.

Officers reasonably opened fire after Vos sprinted toward them while wielding a metal hook, prosecutors said.

Investigators said that a security camera recorded Vos yelling for someone to shoot him in the head during the minutes leading up to the shooting.

"You want me dead" and "Kill me already, please," the San Clemente hairdresser shouted, according to investigators.

Vos was a diagnosed schizophrenic who last year entered rehabilitation for heavy drug use, investigators said, adding that he had methamphetamine in his system when he was shot to death.

His friends painted a far different picture, saying Vos had cleaned up his personal life after getting sober.

"I could never imagine him being in a situation where he was being aggressive enough to be shot to death," said Christian Kekel, who attended beauty school with Vos.

In November, Vos' parents accused the police of using "excessive, unwarranted and brutal" force during the standoff.

Officers had ample time to use non-lethal means to subdue their son, they argued in a pair of legal claims seeking $50 million from the city.

Officials denied the claims, which are often precursors to lawsuits. The law firm representing Vos' parents did not return calls.

One witness told investigators that Vos showed up on his doorstep the night of the shooting and seemed paranoid and erratic.

About 8 p.m., the friend told Vos to "leave and clear his head," and Vos skateboarded to a nearby 7-Eleven at Superior and Placentia avenues.

Investigators wrote that Vos ducked into an aisle, said someone was trying to kill him and then chased a customer out of the store with a screwdriver. Vos also cut a store clerk with a large pair of scissors, investigators said.

The first officer on the scene told investigators that Vos reached behind his back for his waistband and began pantomiming that he had a gun.

Vos then hid in a small room behind the counter while 10 more officers arrived and waited outside the store, some with guns drawn, according to the district attorney's office.

About 8:40 p.m., Vos emerged from the room holding a 6-inch metal display hook above his head in a "stabbing position," one officer told investigators.

He then sprinted toward the officers outside, ignoring an order to drop the hook, according to the report.

One officer fired a non-lethal projectile when Vos was about halfway to the 7-Eleven's open door, but Vos did not stop, the report said.

When Vos was about four feet from the door, two officers opened fire with AR-15 rifles, investigators wrote.

jeremiah.dobruck2@latimes.com

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