San Francisco Bay Area Violent Crime

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Releases Details of Fatal Shooting by Santa Rosa Police

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office today identified Santa Rosa police officer Nicholas Vlahandreas as the officer who fatally shot a naked, knife-wielding man at a west Santa Rosa residence Saturday morning.

Three Santa Rosa police officers responded separately to a call about a disturbance involving a “crazy man” in the 2400 block of West Steele Lane around 6 a.m. Vlahandreas, the second officer to arrive, encountered Pablo Garcia Garcia, 35, hiding with a 12-inch kitchen knife under a mattress and bed frame in a cluttered bedroom of the home, sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said. Details of the shooting released today are based on a review of the officers’ body-worn cameras and interviews with them, Crum said. Seven minutes elapsed between the time officers Vlahandreas and Jeffrey Badger found Garcia under the bed and the shooting, Crum said.

The third officer, Park McAllister and other officers arrived at the front door just as the shots were fired, Crum said. Badger and Vlahandreas pleaded in English and Spanish with Garcia to surrender the knife, Crum said. Garcia continued brandishing the knife and Vlahandreas shot Garcia twice with a Taser about four minutes after the encounter began, Crum said.

The Taser appeared ineffective as Garcia remained angry and aggressive and told the officers in English to leave, Crum said. Vlahandreas then sprayed Garcia with pepper spray, and three minutes later Garcia charged the officers with the knife. Badger fired his Taser, which slowed Garcia momentarily, but Garcia continued his charge at the officers, Crum said. Garcia then quickly left the bedroom as the officers retreated backwards, and Vlahandreas fired his 9mm Glock five times at Garcia in the hallway, Crum said.

Garcia went into a bathroom across from the bedroom and the door closed behind him, Crum said. The officers did not know whether Garcia had been struck, Crum said. McAllister and other police officers arrived, including a Spanish-speaking officer who tried to get Garcia to surrender. Ultimately a team of officers armed with a riot-protective shield entered the bathroom and found Garcia on the ground with the knife in his hand. Life-saving efforts were made but Garcia died a short time later, Crum said. Three of the five bullets struck Garcia, two in his upper left torso and one in the left hip area, Crum said. The other two bullets were found in the hallway floor.

Preliminary results of an autopsy indicated there was a central nervous system stimulant in Garcia’s system, but final toxicology tests are pending, Crum said. A man who suffered a stab wound when he tried to flee the bedroom before officers arrived told police Garcia was acting delusional and seeing things that didn’t exist, Crum said. Vlahandreas has been a police officer nearly three years.

He joined the Santa Rosa Police Department in March. Badger joined the Santa Rosa Police Department in July 2015. He has no previous law enforcement experience. McAllister has nine years of law enforcement experience and he also was hired by Santa Rosa police in March. Garcia was convicted of a felony false imprisonment with violence incident that occurred in March 2015.

He was sentenced to three years probation and directed to continue mental health counseling. His probation, however, was revoked in November 2015, according to Sonoma County Superior Court records.

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