A 41-year-old man shot dead by a California Highway Patrol officer last month twice advanced on the officer while armed with a knife and tried to force his way into multiple vehicles on Highway 99, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office.
The officer — not identified in a lengthy Tuesday press release — believed his life was in danger when he fired at 41-year-old Felipe Casas Perez on two occasions during the incident, sheriff's officials say.
The release says the incident unfolded as follows:
At 12:03 p.m. Aug. 24, the CHP received calls regarding a single-vehicle crash involving a white pickup on northbound Highway 99 near 7th Standard Road. A passerby said there was an injured person armed with a knife.
The pickup had left the freeway and drove through the fence line of 99 across Saco Road, colliding with a fence and pole of a business in the 4600 block of Saco. The driver, Perez, left the vehicle, climbed over the fence line and onto the right shoulder of northbound 99, darting into traffic lanes before returning to the shoulder.
The first CHP officer arrived at 12:07 p.m. and noticed Perez had multiple wounds that were later determined to be apparent self-inflicted stab wounds to his chest. The officer followed Perez in his patrol vehicle and gave multiple commands to stop in both English and Spanish. Perez continued walking and the officer followed with emergency lights activated to warn other drivers.
Perez ran into northbound traffic and was nearly struck by a vehicle. He forced other vehicles to stop as he ran in front of them and went up on the shoulder of the center median.
The officer got out of his vehicle due to the "increasingly erratic behavior" of Perez and the risks he posed to others. The officer ordered Perez to get on the ground, but Perez instead turned toward the officer and quickly approached him "in an aggressive manner while holding a knife in his hand."
The officer fired his gun multiple times while retreating. It's unknown if Perez was hit at that time.
Perez then jumped over the center concrete barrier and ran into southbound Highway 99 traffic, trying to force his way into numerous vehicles. The officer ordered him to the ground and to get away from the vehicles.
Perez again advanced on the officer, who fired at him. Perez was hit and fell. He died at the scene.
The officer was uninjured. A 22-year veteran of the department, he is on routine paid administrative leave.