After a 20-year-old college football player wrestled a ghost gun away from a man involved in a late-night brawl at a San Jose restaurant, police ended up mistaking the young athlete for the gunman and shot him.
San Jose police said Tuesday that 20-year-old K’uan Green, an Oakland native who plays football at Contra Costa College, failed to drop the gun, as ordered, but his attorney argued his client wasn’t given any time to comply. Bystander video of the shooting shows that Green had his back to the officers as he left the restaurant and was shot as soon as he turned toward them, although the officers can’t be heard.
“There’s four seconds of time, and they didn’t give him time to recognize the police, especially in the midst of all that was going on,” Green’s lawyer Adante Pointer told VICE News. “There’s a lot of yelling and confusion in the restaurant from the people who are physically trying to take the gun away from him.”
Multiple San Jose police officers arrived at the La Victoria restaurant Sunday night to find patrons fleeing and saying that a fight had broken out involving what was later identified as a ghost gun—an untraceable, DIY firearm that can either be 3D-printed or bought online in parts and then assembled. As a result, officers on the scene anticipated an active shooter situation.
When the fight between the two men spilled outside, one of the men had a firearm in his hand. An officer commanded the individual to drop the weapon before firing his own multiple times, according to San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata.
But police didn’t shoot the man who brought the gun to the restaurant causing hysteria. They instead shot Green, who witnesses say was a hero and kept the suspect from firing the gun at others. Surveillance footage from the restaurant shows that Green, who wasn’t involved in the initial brawl, successfully pulled the gun away and backed out of the restaurant with the weapon in his left hand.
“He was a peacemaker,” Pointer said. “And the thanks he got was being shot by the police. The very thing that the police called themselves coming there to do, both deescalate the situation, save people, find this gunman, he had already done.”
Green was hit in leg, abdomen, and twice in the arm and was taken to the local hospital after the shooting for non-life-threatening injuries. Pointer told VICE News he was handcuffed to his bed until late Monday and wasn’t allowed to see his family until Tuesday.
The identity of the officer who shot Green hasn’t been released to the public, although Mata said the officer has four years on the force. He’s currently on administrative leave while the San Jose district attorney investigates the shooting.
“The officer knew that the person coming out of the restaurant was holding a gun and pointed it at others,” Mata said in a press conference Tuesday. “The officer knew that the individual holding the gun did not drop it when commands were clearly given to him. What the officer did not know was who brought the gun to the restaurant. That information came to light after the detectives viewed surveillance footage after the shooting.”
San Jose officers were also a block away from the restaurant that night, at the scene of a homicide that took place less than an hour before. With no lead yet on who shot and killed the victim of the separate crime, they rushed to the scene of La Victoria as patrons fled.
“The officer knew that a homicide with a firearm had just occurred, and the suspect with the firearm had fled and could be in the immediate area. The officer knew that less than a block away from the homicide, a man with a gun inside a crowded restaurant engaged in a fight and that panicked customers were running out and reporting what was occurring,” Mata said.
As for the man who brandished the gun at the restaurant, he was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Mata.
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