Questions still remain in Walnut Creek shooting

January 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Friends and relatives of a Walnut Creek man shot to death by police still have questions even as police release new details about the confrontation they had with 22-year-old hair stylist Anthony Banta at an apartment complex.

"Officers don't shoot and kill anyone, they don't shoot anyone unless they are absolutely forced to do that," said Walnut Creek Police Chief Joel Bryden.

Bryden defended the actions of his officers who shot and killed Banta two days after Christmas. Bryden described the morning of Dec. 27th after a frantic 911 call from inside Banta's apartment. Four officers arrived to find a "highly-agitated" Banta, on top of a staircase, waving a 10-inch chef's knife.

"Officers ordered Mr. Banta to drop the knife several times. Mr. Banta suddenly charged down the stairs toward the officers with the knife in his hand. The officers fired their guns at Mr. Banta in self-defense," said Bryden.

However, the attorney for Banta's family, Larry Peluso, says they're still not convinced events unfolded exactly as police described them, especially given Banta's history as a hard-working employee of Walnut Creek's Salonamour and complete lack of a criminal history or troubled past.

"It's just really hard to make sense of. There are a lot of things that just don't add up right now. It may be in time, they will add up and we'll be able to make sense of this. The family is shocked and in disbelief that this could've happened," said Peluso.

"The first thing they do is kill him," said neighbor Kathy Colliau. She lives in an apartment near Banta's. "They do not want to divulge anything. They want to protect their officers and there was never even a consideration that he might be mentally ill."

Police still will not say how many officers fired and how many shots were fired at Banta. The four officers who were on the scene at the time of the shooting were placed on administrative leave, but have since returned to duty.