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Sunnyvale police detail fatal shooting

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SUNNYVALE — A fatal police shooting at a mobile home park last weekend unfolded after a man called 911 on himself, then ambled half-naked toward an officer, holding a kitchen knife and in the throes of an apparent mental health crisis, authorities said Friday.

Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Chief Phan Ngo detailed how 19-year-old Emmanuel Perez Becerra called an emergency dispatcher on March 23 to summon police to the Vienna Drive complex where he lived, and described “a naked man walking outside … with a knife,” according to recordings played at a news conference at department headquarters.

A compilation of video footage from cameras on a police vehicle dashboard, Officer Kevin Lemos’ body camera, and held by an eyewitness was also played, showing Perez, wearing a jacket and naked from the waist down, briskly walked toward Lemos while holding a 12-inch kitchen knife.

Pictured is a photo of a kitchen knife shown at a news conference at the Sunnyvale Dept. of Public Safety regarding a March 23, 2024 fatal police shooting in which a man reportedly carrying the knife at a mobile home park was killed during a confrontation with officers. (Robert Salonga/Bay Area News Group)
Pictured is a photo of a kitchen knife shown at a news conference at the Sunnyvale Dept. of Public Safety regarding a March 23, 2024 fatal police shooting in which a man reportedly carrying the knife at a mobile home park was killed during a confrontation with officers. (Robert Salonga/Bay Area News Group) 

Lemos and Officer Francis Ngo — no relation to the chief — can be heard giving Perez repeated commands, in person and through the the megaphone systems on their police vehicles, to drop the knife. About two minutes after initially spotting then following him, Lemos fired two shots at Perez, mortally wounding him.

Perez did not raise the knife, and was about 10 feet away from Lemos when he was shot.

“This is a difficult situation for everyone involved and affected,” Phan Ngo said. “We take any loss of life very seriously.”

Perez’s family acknowledged his mental health struggles but also made clear he was not known to be violent.

“We are all grieving this sudden loss and everyone is shaken — from the local mobile home neighbors to the larger community who has known Emmanuel since birth,” the statement reads. “We remember him as a gentle and family oriented young man. While he was already working with peers and health care providers to manage his mental health, he was never one to shy away from asking for help.”

Perez’s family described him as having been seriously affected by the lockdown orders and isolation from the pandemic.

“Emmanuel was truly a caring individual who was still healing from those pandemic impacts (both seen and unseen), and his opportunity to ‘return to normalcy’ with his loving and supportive family is now gone,” the statement reads.

The chief said Lemos, a Sunnyvale police officer since 2018, and Francis Ngo, who has one year with the department, have been placed on paid administrative leave. A shooting investigation has been launched, led by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and the department’s internal affairs unit.

Perez had no criminal record and his only past contacts with police were as a crime victim in 2021 and an encounter in 2022 that was deemed not criminal, Ngo said.

Perez was still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher as the officers located and approached him, and also tried to coax him into peacefully surrendering, according to the recordings played at the Friday news conference.

Ngo emphasized that Lemos was backing away from Perez, who did not heed commands to stop and drop the knife in his left hand.

“I’m going to shoot you if you don’t stop,” Lemos is heard saying on his body camera video.



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