City Council members in Richmond, California voted on Tuesday to open a new investigation into the police killing of 24-year-old Richard “Pedie” Perez, and announced an $850,000 settlement agreed to by his family.
A Police Commission Investigation will now determine if officer Wallace Jensen used excessive or unnecessary force when he shot Perez outside of a Richmond liquor store on September 14, 2014.
The decision follows several other investigations into the matter, which all cleared Jensen of wrongdoing, but Vice Mayor Eduardo Martinez, along with council members Jovanka Beckles and Gayle McLaughlin, proposed another probe in light of witness testimony and surveillance video contradicting Jensen’s claims.
McLaughlin said the commission probe represents a “civilian review process” that is “important,” but Mayor Tom Butt argued there is no need for an additional review because the department and city already looked into the case a number of times and found their employees did nothing wrong.
“It’s not like nobody has ever investigated this,” Butt said. “It’s been investigated at least four times… I’m really puzzled about what people want to get out of this.”
Jensen said he was conducting a security check at Uncle Sam’s Liquor Store near Cutting and Carlson boulevards, and encountered a heavily intoxicated Perez – who during a struggle – tried to grab the his gun, which prompted him to fire three shots into his chest.
Perez’s family and witness accounts of the incident do not mesh with the officer’s claims however. In the civil-lawsuit, it was claimed that Perez was ordered to sit on the curb when Jensen detained him, but then got up and was grabbed by the cop.
The suit said when Perez “struggled to free himself of defendant Jensen’s constricting grasp, the officer got up, stepped back and, from a distance of five to six feet, shot Perez in the chest several times.”
Surveillance video recorded from the scene appears to corroborate the family’s version of events, as well as witness testimony, and shows Jensen fire at Perez while standing at a distance. Perez is then seen stumbling into the liquor store where he falls and dies.
Watch the raw footage containing witness testimony:
In approving the settlement, the city of Richmond does not have to admit fault or liability in Perez’s death. As such, even if the new investigation finds that Jensen acted inappropriately, the city will not bear any legal responsibility for his actions.
Perez’s mother, Julie Perez said that any findings of wrongdoing will simply validate whether or not excessive force was used so the commission can make recommendations to hopefully help prevent other-such incidents in the future.
“It’s not a coincidence that they settled and now they want an investigation,” she said. “They came out saying Pedie tried to take the officers gun… nothing is showing that, including forensic evidence. Pedie was simply trying to resist the officer and walk away from the incident.”