The officer who fatally shot 24-year-old Richard Perez during a struggle outside Uncle Sam’s Liquors in Richmond Sunday was identified by police Friday as Wallace Jensen.
Jensen is a K-9 officer with nearly seven years on the force, Richmond police Capt. Mark Gagan said.
The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, but an initial toxicology report shows that Jensen shot Perez three times, Gagan said.
According to police, Jensen was conducting a security check of Uncle Sam’s, a problem spot at 3222 Cutting Blvd., when he encountered Perez about 12:15 a.m. Perez was highly intoxicated, resisted the officer’s commands, and during a struggle attempted to grab Jensen’s gun from the holster while the two grappled on the ground, according to police. (Police Chief Chris Magnus’ more detailed version of what happened is here).
As the fight persisted, police said, a physically exhausted Jensen, “fearing the suspect would overpower him and get his gun,” fired three shots, striking his chest. Perez died at the scene.
Through interviews with Perez’s family and friends, the Richmond Confidential described Perez as “sometimes troublesome – but not dangerous,” generous and well-loved.
New details have been released about Jensen, including that he is a member of RPD’s crisis negotiation team, which requires quarterly training on handling violent situations, Gagan said. During his career, Gagan added, Jensen has never been alleged to have used excessive force.
The Contra Costa Times noted that Jensen did fire his service weapon at least once before, in September 2009, but missed the suspect, a violent gang member.
Jensen is on paid administrative leave while the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office investigates.
A public memorial for Perez will be held at Nicholl Park Saturday at noon, and will be attended by Magnus, who was invited by Perez’s family.
UPDATE: Bay Area civic rights attorney John Burris says he plans to sue city of Richmond on behalf of Richard Perez’s family, saying his firm’s investigation interviewed witnesses who disputed police claims that Perez was trying to grab Officer Wallace Jenson’s gun in the moments before he was fatally shot. Burris is set to hold a press conference after a noon memorial Saturday at Nicholl Park.
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