SJPD under scrutiny for shooting homicide suspect

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Jose Police Department is under scrutiny after fatally shooting two of three suspects in last week's murder inside an office building on Lundy Avenue. Police are still searching for that third suspect. Now there is a push for an independent investigation into these deaths.

The San Jose Office of the Independent Police Auditor, as well as others, is looking into two important details in the shooting death of a homicide suspect that happened Monday night. One issue is that the suspect was unarmed and the other is that he was running away from police officers.

Police work does involve making split-second decisions and police did have information the suspect had plans to kill again. However, questions are being raised if this shooting was justified.

Any officer-involved shooting, such as Sunday's where a suspect wanted in a murder case reached for a gun when officers tried to arrest him, triggers an internal investigation. San Jose policy spells out rules on the use of force and the use of firearms to apprehend a suspect.

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However, Monday night's encounter on Kirkhaven Court where 40-year-old Richard "Harpo" Jacquez was shot in the back, running from police, has raised concerns. Jacquiez was unarmed.

That bothers Judge LaDoris Cordell, the recently retired independent police auditor in San Jose. She told ABC7 News, "In my five years being the Independent Police Auditor, I do not recall a single case where an officer killed someone who was running away from them and where the person was unarmed."

She says she will file a complaint so her interim successor can review the police department's review of the case.

Friends and family at a vigil Tuesday night argue police used excessive force.

"They didn't have to kill him. They could have shot at his legs. They didn't have to kill him," Miranda Montiel, Jacquez's niece, said.

San Jose police believe suspect Jacquez had to be stopped from entering a home. He died on the doorstep.

"Even if this man, Mr. Jacquez, would have become more dangerous to the community had he been allowed to be holed up in a home where he could have had access to a weapon, that would not necessarily allow the police to use lethal force because it involves speculation," legal analyst Steven Clark said.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is waiting for more facts in the case to come out. He said, "In the meantime, of course we're concerned, as we should be concerned. And I know that our chief is very focused on this issue, and I am too."

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