In the wake of Friday’s fatal shooting of a 27-year-old man by a Huntington Beach police officer, some City Council members Monday contended the shooting was warranted while others urged the public to withhold judgment until an investigation is completed.
Council members also maintained their support for Police Chief Robert Handy amid increased pressure from the city’s police union for his ouster.
This was the seventh officer-involved shooting in Huntington Beach this year, and the second resulting in a person’s death.
Friday morning’s shooting outside a 7-Eleven at 6012 Edinger Ave. was captured on video by multiple bystanders.
A new 96-second video that surfaced over the weekend and was posted to Twitter provides a longer view than earlier ones of an altercation that preceded the shooting. It shows the suspect, identified as Dillan Tabares, aggressively approaching the officer — who was pointing a weapon that police said was a Taser stun gun — and throwing at least one punch before the pair began to wrestle on the ground. Tabares got up and the officer, whose name has not been released, fired seven shots. Tabares collapsed against the store and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Warning: The following video contains graphic content.
A video that surfaced earlier shows Tabares appearing to pull an item off the officer’s utility belt during the struggle.
Councilman Patrick Brenden said the new video shows the officer was justified.
“It’s a tragedy,” Brenden said. “It was clear from the video this individual was very aggressive and escalated it.”
Mayor Barbara Delgleize said she wants to wait until the end of the investigation to draw conclusions. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the case, as is typical for officer-involved shootings in Huntington Beach.
But Delgleize said the longer video shows Tabares approaching the officer and initiating a fight.
In a statement Friday on Facebook, Delgleize urged the community to withhold judgment about the shooting.
“Until the investigation is concluded and all facts are made known, speculation serves no purpose and does a disservice to all who were involved,” the statement says. “I ask that everyone show compassion for all involved parties. … As more information is revealed, we will make sure that the public is informed and whatever action is appropriate will be taken.”
Councilwoman Lyn Semeta on Monday expressed support for the city’s “excellent” police force while similarly urging the public not to rush to judgment.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey and council members Jill Hardy and Billy O’Connell did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday.
For his part, Handy told reporters Friday evening that Tabares wouldn’t obey any of the officer’s commands.
“The suspect was resisting and clearly the officer was defending himself and trying to take the suspect into custody,” Handy said. “Just because the person didn’t have a weapon, if he’s struggling with that officer and actively assaulting that officer and trying to take his weapon away, trying to take equipment away from his belt that can harm him — he has every right and every responsibility and we train them to defend themselves with lethal force.”
In August, the union, the Huntington Beach Police Officers’ Assn., took an overwhelming vote of “no confidence” against the chief.
A majority of the council has voiced support for Handy throughout his conflict with rank-and-file officers over issues such as body cameras, Handy’s decision to remove rifle suppressors from department weapons and what the union called his failure to support and bond with his management team and officers.
Peterson, Delgleize, Semeta and Brenden said the rash of officer-involved shootings this year doesn’t affect their support for Handy.
“I don’t think this reflects on Handy,” Brenden said. “He provides great leadership. These are societal issues.”
Peterson agreed, saying, “This doesn’t have to do with management at all.”
Brenden and Peterson said the shootings may be indicative of the effects of Proposition 47, a 2014 state ballot measure that downgraded some felonies to misdemeanors, resulting in many reduced sentences and early prison releases.
“Police all over are dealing with more issues, and the state has tied their hands,” Peterson said.