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Fresno officer fatally shoots former police captain who was armed with knife

Fresno officer fatally shoots former police captain who was armed with knife
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, center, stands at the scene of a triple homicide in 2017. On Monday a Fresno police officer shot and killed a retired police captain who was armed with a knife and said to be suffering from mental health issues. (Fresno Bee)

A Fresno police officer shot and killed a retired city police captain who was armed with a knife and suffering from mental health issues Monday morning, authorities said.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters that officers responded to the 200 block of East Moody Avenue around 11:30 a.m. after receiving a 911 call from a woman who said her husband was covered in blood and had cut himself.

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After speaking with the woman, the officers entered the home, where the man charged them while holding a knife, according to Dyer.

One officer tried to subdue the man with a Taser, but it had no effect. The other officer fired two shots, killing the man, Dyer said.

Dyer identified the man as Marty West, 63, a retired Fresno police captain and former chief of the Oakdale Police Department in Stanislaus County.

“This is a difficult day for the Fresno Police Department,” Dyer said. “I’ve lost a friend and a family member, and he’ll be missed.”

West had been struggling with mental health issues in recent months, according to Dyer, who said he did not know if West had been formally diagnosed but confirmed he was “under a doctor’s care.”

Police had been called to the residence multiple times in recent months, and West had voluntarily surrendered his firearms to a neighbor, Dyer said.

“He recognized he needed help and he had been seeking help from family members and friends,” Dyer said.

West had served as a police officer in Fresno for more than 30 years, before retiring as a captain in 2007, Dyer said. West then served as Oakdale’s police chief until 2012.

Asked whether West was attempting “suicide by cop,” Dyer said he could not be certain. West had a self-inflicted wound to his neck by the time officers arrived, and his wife had told a 911 dispatcher she feared he was suicidal, Dyer said.

The officer who fired the fatal shots was a trainee who has been with the department less than a year, according to Dyer, who said the young officer had “no choice” but to open fire.

“He had no other options, he really did not,” said Dyer, who already had reviewed body-worn camera footage from the shooting. “When you look at the proximity between Marty armed with the knife and that officer when he fired, he was right on him.”

5:10 p.m.: This story was updated with additional comments from Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

This story first published at 3:00 p.m.

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