Officer Cleared in Fatal Shooting of “Delusional” Man
By Jesse B. Gill
It began when Rialto police dispatchers sent two officers about 6:45 p.m. on June 2, 2011 to a 911 call of a report that a man in the front yard of 105 N. Palm Ave, claimed that he “had a gun” and “was going to be killing people,” according to the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office.
Patrolling officers Glen Anderson and Mark Render responded to the call. Prosecutors say Anderson and Render arrived at the address to find 45-year-old Rialto resident Anastacio
Verduzco sitting in the front yard of a house two of his sisters called their home.
Shortly after the shooting, police officials told the press that one of Verduzco’s family members called police, saying he had grown unstable. She late told investigators that a recent change in medication left him erratic—and suffering from hallucinations. Those hallucinations led Verduzco to violently act out, she said.
One of Verduzco’s sisters told investigators that the man had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder some 20 years before he was shot to death. The medication he took was meant to treat that disorder, she said.
When coroner’s officials released their findings in an autopsy report, they said Verduzco had Quetiapine and Benzodiazepines in his blood stream—the former is often used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the former used to treat other issues stemming from anxiety.
She also told investigators that Verduzco said he was tired of going to the hospital and that he was, “. . . determined not to be taken again,” according to prosecutors.
Verduzco allegedly sat near some red bricks with one of his sisters, sharing snacks and listening to music, prosecutors said. His other sister suggested he turn the music down and he freaked out, allegedly threatening to assault her.
Prosecutors say Verduzco threatened his neighbors and began making wild threats, claiming to have a gun and saying he “. . . .was going to be killing people.”
When Anderson arrived on the scene, he announced himself to Verduzo, ordering him to stay down and put his hands on his head.
(Two weeks before the incident, Verduzco had walked up to Anderson’s police car, shouting nonsense, according to prosecutors. He allegedly stopped traffic a short time later by running out into the street.)
Despite the commands barked at him by police officers, Verduzco (allegedly) had his own plan. Prosecutors say he grabbed two bricks—one in each hand—and drew a bead on Anderson.
The officer drew his Taser, according to a comprehensive report released by the District Attorney’s Office. Witnesses said heard Anderson tell Verduzco, “Andy, don’t do it,” as he tried to convince the man to sit on the ground.
Prosecutors say Anderson’s Taser came equipped with a built-in video camera that activated every time he drew the weapon. According to the District Attorney’s report, the video from the Taser shows Verduzco picking an unidentified object from the lawn and acting like he planned to throw something at Anderson.
The officer fired the Taser at Verduzco, but to little effect, if any at all. Prosecutors say Verduzco then appeared get to work in chucking a brick at Anderson, who felt boxed-in because of some bushes and a parked car. (One of Verduzco’s sisters told investigators that no Taser was fired. The other sister said an officer shot her brother without warning as he sat in the front yard. Witnesses later gave testimony that conflicted with both sisters’ accounts.)
He drew his .45 caliber handgun and squeezed the trigger, twice, according to the District Attorney’s report.
Bullets struck Verduzco’s hand and left shoulder, prosecutors say. They say police gave the wounded man first aid until paramedics arrived and rushed him to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton.
Doctors there pronounced Verduzco dead at 7:12 p.m.
An autopsy revealed that one of the bullets Anderson fired went through one of Verduzco’s ribs, both lungs, the ninth thoracic vertebra and his spinal canal (not necessarily in that order).
According to the District Attorney’s report, a sheriff’s investigator examined Verduzco’s clothing and found some medical paperwork in his pocket, one document stating the man was “delusional.” Across some of the documents, Verduzco allegedly wrote “Rialto police will die,” and “Come on Rialto Police you are murderers.”
The District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case, as it regularly does. It found Anderson was justified in shooting Verduzco to death, citing the immediate threat the mentally ill man presented by picking up bricks and allegedly motioning as if to chuck at least one of them at the officer.
Prosecutors ruled that Anderson did not exceed what’s considered a reasonable amount of force and he will not be charged with a crime.
Contact Jesse B. Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @IEW_WatchDog.