Richmond police identify officer in deadly shooting
on September 19, 2014
Richmond Police identified Wallace Jensen as the officer who shot and killed Richard “Pedie” Perez III during a scuffle Sunday, the city’s first fatal officer-involved shooting since 2007.
Police Capt. Mark Gagan on Friday said Jensen, 31, is a six-year veteran of the department with a clean record.
“He’s never had any type of discipline or intervention for excessive force,” Gagan said.
Perez, 24, was intoxicated and unarmed when he and Jensen crossed paths just after midnight Sunday outside Uncle Sam’s Liquors at 3322 Cutting Blvd. Police say Perez attacked the officer and grabbed for his gun during a prolonged struggle, and Jensen was exhausted and forced to shoot Perez or risk losing his own life.
Gagan described Jensen as a highly-trained officer who draws a range of special assignments.
“[Jensen] is currently assigned as a canine handler and patrol officer in the Southern District. A collateral assignment is that he is a crisis negotiation team member,” Gagan said. “He works in critical incidents trying to persuade people to surrender and act non-violently.”
Preliminary autopsy findings also released Friday show Perez was shot three times in the front of his body, Gagan said. He died at the scene.
The shooting is being investigated by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office. The department is conducting its own investigation as well.
At least one eyewitness, a clerk at the liquor store, has said that Perez never reached for Jensen’s gun during the scuffle. Friends and family of Perez, who lived just two blocks away from the store and was a familiar presence in the neighborhood, have expressed doubts that Perez had to be shot.
Perez had at least one recent gun related arrest and was cited for DUI the day before his death, his father has said.
Jensen had been patrolling alone when he was flagged down by an Uncle Sam’s clerk to intervene after a drunken Perez took a bottle of Hennessy cognac without paying for it, according to the clerk, Mohammad Delik.
Delik said Jensen did not use a taser, baton, or pepper spray on Perez, a detail police say will be settled by the investigations.
“The suspect was aggressive, belligerent, and uncooperative towards the officer,” Police Chief Chris Magnus said on Sunday. “The suspect grabbed and held on to one of the officer’s hands, while using his other hand to simultaneously go for the officer’s gun … The physically exhausted officer, fearing the suspect would overpower him and get his gun, fired three shots at the suspect.”
Magnus also issued a statement one day after the shooting, describing Jensen as Spanish-speaking and Latino.
Jensen has fired at a person at least once before.
On Sept. 13, 2009 he and then partner, Kristian Palma, fired five rounds at Joe Blacknell III, a suspected murderer, during a foot pursuit. All their shots missed.
Blacknell was ultimately convicted of 20 felony counts and sentenced to life in prison without parole in connection with a gang-related crime spree.
According to Jensen’s testimony in a Contra Costa County courtroom, Blacknell aimed a gun at the officers as he escaped through a fence at the end of a dark alley where they believed they had him cornered. It was the first time Jensen had fired his gun on duty, Richmond Confidential reported, and he was not disciplined.
Jensen has been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard protocol, pending the results of the district attorney’s investigation into his use of deadly force.
A public memorial is being held for Perez at Nicholl Park on MacDonald Avenue and 33rd Street at noon on Saturday. Magnus is expected to attend.
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