San Pablo police release body cam footage of fatal officer-involved shooting

San Pablo police release body cam footage of fatal officer-involved shooting
Image of an officer's gun drawn from body cam footage provided by the San Pablo Police Department.

The San Pablo Police Department on Friday released body camera footage from a fatal officer-involved shooting involving an armed man Wednesday, Dec. 15. 

The Police Department said releasing the footage is “an effort to foster transparency and trust with our community.”

Warning: the video is graphic.

At about 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15, police received a 911 call from a store clerk at Evergreen Produce Market on Market Avenue reporting a man, later identified as 45-year-old Sergio Escalera-Valdez, was in the parking lot carrying what appeared to be a firearm and even taking the magazine out from the gun and putting it back in. The clerk, who feared he would come into the business, then informed police that the man recklessly drove out of the parking lot in a vehicle. Police responding to the scene located a red pick up truck traveling westbound on Market Avenue and initiated a traffic stop. With guns drawn from behind their patrol vehicle, police ordered Escalera-Valdez to show his hands several times before he complied. Police noticed his hands were bloody. 

Police then told Escalera-Valdez to exit the vehicle with his hands up. Escalera-Valdez exited the vehicle armed with the handgun, later determined to be a BB gun. He mimicked the motion of racking the slide of the gun before pulling the weapon to his chest and then turning in the direction of officers, according to police. Four of six officers at the scene opened fire. Escalera-Valdez fell to the ground and officers rushed to him to provide medical aid. He died while en route to the hospital, police said.

The officers who opened fire have been identified as Monica Louis, Javier Rios, Shaun Swaleh, and Waseemah Ali. All four were placed on paid administrative leave per County protocol. 

“It remains unclear why the man was in the store parking lot brandishing the pellet gun or why he exited his vehicle holding the weapon and mimicking the actions of a real firearm in the presence of officers,” police said in a statement.

During the investigation, detectives learned the man made statements to a witness of his intention to force officers to kill him. It was also learned the man made statements of ‘goodbye’ to family members earlier in the day. In that goodbye message, he shared a photo of the BB gun, police said.

He also reportedly told an employee in the market parking lot that he was going to force police to harm him.

The incident remains under investigation by San Pablo police, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office and the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office. 

Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call the San Pablo Police Investigations Division at 510-215-3150. All calls can remain anonymous.