The Kern County District Attorney’s Office has determined that a California Highway Patrol officer was in his legal rights in an officer-involved shooting from 2018.
The DA’s Office said on Aug. 24, 2018, Felipe Perez stabbed himself twice in the chest before driving off and shortly hitting a wooden utility pole. After getting out of the vehicle, he began walking along Highway 99 north of 7th Standard Road and was found by CHP Officer Dan Fallas.
For several minutes, Fallas ordered Perez to stop, after which Perez began crossing the freeway and was almost hit by a vehicle, the DA’s Office said. Fallas followed him and saw that Perez had a knife in his hand. He got out of his patrol car and ordered Perez at gunpoint to stop and drop the knife.
Instead of doing so, Perez began approaching Fallas. In fear of his life, the officer fired his weapon at Perez multiple times. However, Perez allegedly continued to approach the officer after being shot.
When Perez allegedly began trying to carjack several vehicles along the highway, Fallas approached him to get him to stop. When Perez rushed toward him, Fallas fired his weapon again and this time killed Perez.
“Numerous witnesses to the incident informed deputies that Officer Fallas had no choice but to shoot,” the DA’s report said. “One witness said it looked like ‘suicide by cop.’”
Upon further investigation, KCSO learned that Perez had suffered from mental health issues for years and had previously attempted suicide.
Given that Fallas gave Perez multiple opportunities to stop and drop his weapon and that Perez chose not to do so, the DA’s Office said Fallas acted in self-defense and that there is no criminal liability relating to the shooting, as Fallas' actions were legally justified.