The officer's training maybe top notch, but the suspect's family is asking if more could've been done to save 44-year-old Marshall Tobin. "They didn't have to kill him. I don't care what the situation was. They could've shot him in his legs," says Desiree Gennsuo, the mother of Tobin's daughter. Gennsuo and Tobin's sister Anna are grieving his loss and asking questions. "I need to know what happened, you know?" Anna told ABC7 News.
It happened in the parking lot of the Safeway at 709 Lincoln Road West. Just before 3 a.m., Vallejo police were responding to a domestic violence call when the suspect they were looking for was found in the Safeway parking lot. Officers say they approached the suspect and as he got out of a red Nissan, he was distraught and they could see what appeared to be a handgun in his waistband. That's when officers called out to the suspect.
"I heard, 'Show me your hands. Show me your hands,' and then I heard about six shots," said one witness who lives across the street and saw the whole incident play out. "The guy was agitated. He woke up the whole house out here."
Officers ordered Tobin to place his hands on his head and when he didn't comply, one officer fired his taser, but it failed to take Tobin down. That's when officers say the suspect reached for and grabbed the handgun in his waistband. "The subject went for the gun that he had concealed in his waistband. The officers discharged their weapons in defense of their lives," said Sgt. Herman Robinson.
Tobin died a short time later from his injuries.
The Vallejo Police Department has been hit hard recently with budget cutbacks and losses of their own. The department has been under heavy scrutiny in what appears to be an alarming rate of officer-involved shootings. On Saturday, officers shot and killed a 17-year-old suspect who was accused of robbing a liquor store and pointing his weapon at officers. In May, 42-year-old Anton Barrett Sr. was shot by police after trying to elude capture after running through a DUI checkpoint.
"I can't speak to the spate of the recent officer-involved shootings, but the officers have the right to defend themselves. These individuals have been armed with handguns and the officers have defended themselves. Our training is top notch," Robinson said.
Robinson said police are currently working with one-third of the staff they had at their peak of 158 officers. He also said the death of Officer Jim Capoot last November still weights on the minds of the officers. Capoot was fatally shot multiple times in the back by a suspected bank robber.