Friends: Man killed by Walnut Creek police was gentle

December 29, 2012 9:52:02 AM PST
Friends and co-workers of a man killed by Walnut Creek police on Thursday tell ABC7 News Anthony Banta was a kind and gentle young man, not someone who would be aggressive, especially toward police. Meanwhile, the city's police chief is defending his officers' actions.

Citing an ongoing investigation, police still won't say what weapon 22-year-old Banta was holding when he was shot and killed at his apartment.

Banta worked at Salonamour for the past two years, where friends and coworkers say they can't imagine him being violent toward anyone.

"When someone is taken from you so violently and they're gone so early at a young age, the tragedy is there, but there's the memory and the acts of kindness, we have to embrace that," salon owner Michael Falcon said.

Banta's friends and co-workers say he was the consummate professional, always punctual, hard-working, generous and enthusiastic. Now, Banta's station is empty and the salon closed for the day to give employees a chance to grieve.

"It's hard to wrap our brains around the fact that he will no longer be here with us; we're just trying to focus on being positive and honoring his memory," co-worker Amy Futakawa said.

At 3:13 a.m. Thursday, police received a 911 call from Banta's apartment on Creekside Drive. Screaming could be heard in the background. Minutes later police confronted Banta. Investigators say he had a weapon in his hand, forcing at least two officers to shoot and kill him.

"No police officer wants to shoot and kill anyone and it's a tragic incident that we all wish hadn't happened, but unfortunately it did," Walnut Creek Police Chief Joel Bryden said.

In a photo taken a couple weeks ago, Banta is seen smiling with co-workers at the salon's annual Christmas party.

His friends say Banta was a small man, about 5 foot 4 inches tall and never showed any tendency toward violence.

"It's very shocking because it's absolutely out of his character," Falcon said.

An autopsy was performed Friday; one of the things they will look at, besides cause of death, will be whether Banta had any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of his confrontation with police.

Friends of Banta will hold a vigil Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the salon where he worked which is located at 1459 Newell Avenue in Walnut Creek.


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