Santa Clara County prosecutors are declining to file charges against a San Jose police officer who shot a knife-wielding man in January, saying that the officer’s actions were legally justified.
On Jan. 15, Officer Geeno Gular, a 17-year veteran of the Police Department, shot 51-year-old Qazi Do, of San Jose, on a property in unincorporated Santa Clara County near San Jose. Prosecutors concluded from their investigation that Gular “acted reasonably under the totality of the circumstances” because he felt his partner’s life was in danger.
The events of that afternoon unraveled after two San Jose police officers, a police sergeant, and a sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of a suspicious man holding a pair of 4- to 5-inch blade knives near a home at 4008 Higuera Road, according to the sheriff’s office. Do was first spotted by a contractor working in the area who assumed he was a burglar because he was loitering near a trailer where some of the contractor’s construction tools had been stolen recently.
When the contractor and two other workers confronted Do, he allegedly threatened to harm him with the knives, according to the sheriff’s office. The contractor backed away and got into his car as Do started running away toward a ravine. He called 911 to report the incident while following Do in his car down the narrow and rugged ravine near the Higuera Road home.
The contractor then ran up the hill, knocked on the front door of the home and told the homeowner to call 911, according to the sheriff’s office. When authorities arrived, they negotiated for about 10 to 15 minutes with Do, who was in a creek bed, holding a 4-foot stick in one hand and two knives in the other.
They ordered him to drop the knives, and to come out and talk with them, the sheriff’s office said. He did not comply with the officers’ repeated orders and in an effort to disarm Do, police Sgt. Munson deployed his Taser, but for an unknown reason, it did not seem to affect him. Do allegedly pulled out the Taser barbs and flung them at Munson.
He then dropped the stick, held a knife in each hand and raised them over his head and charged at Munson and allegedly attempted to stab him, coming within four feet of Munson, but just missing him. At that time, Gular, who was protecting Munson, ordered Do to stop and when Do ignored him and continued charging, Gular – fearing that Do would kill Munson – discharged his firearm four times and fatally shot Do.
Do was struck four times and was pronounced dead at the scene, the sheriff’s office said. He was an English-speaking Vietnamese resident with a history of mental illness, namely paranoid schizophrenia, according to prosecutors.Do also had a history of antipathy toward police officers. In July 2004, he threw lighter fluid at an officer in Orange County and tried to use his baton against him, prosecutors said.
He was later arrested and charged. A medical staff, having found him mentally incompetent, administered psychotropic medications, which improved his mental status. His daughter, Kim Do, told investigators she believed that her father was not taking his medication and she could not force him to do so.
She, as well as his roommates, said that he would barricade himself in his room or often walk around carrying kitchen knives. They said they never called police because they feared Do would overreact to their presence. His daughter said she was “afraid this would happen and it did,” according to prosecutors.
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