BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Kern County District Attorney’s office has found that a California Highway Patrol officer who shot and killed a man armed with a knife on Highway 99 acted in self-defense and in the defense of motorists and the shooting was legally justified.
The incident leading to the shooting began Aug. 24, 2018, when Felipe Perez stabbed himself twice in the chest then drove into a wooden utility pole at 80 mph without his seatbelt on, according to a DA’s office release.
Protected from major harm by an airbag, Perez got out of his vehicle, climbed over a fence and started walking along Highway 99.
CHP Officer Dan Fallas arrived and spent four minutes ordering Perez to stop and allow him to help him, according to the release. Perez then walked onto the freeway, which was busy with traffic.
An RV nearly hit Perez, and Fallas followed him in his patrol vehicle to the center median. That’s when the officer noticed Perez had a knife in his hand, prosecutors say. Fallas got out of his vehicle and ordered Perez at gunpoint to drop the knife.
Perez did not comply. Instead, he approached Fallas in a fighting stance while holding the knife, the release says.
Fallas fired his weapon several times, backing away as he fired. Perez continued to approach even after being shot.
Perez then tried carjacking several vehicles on the freeway, according to the release. Fallas moved toward Perez to stop him, and Perez, still armed with the knife, rushed at him.
Fallas fired again, killing Perez.
Multiple witnesses reported Fallas had no choice but to shoot Perez, and one witness said the incident appeared to be a “suicide by cop,” according to the release.
Prosecutors said an investigation revealed Perez had suffered mental health problems for years, had previously attempted suicide and had been experiencing another bout of depression.