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Salinas Police Department dispatch traffic posted on You Tube early Friday provides a glimpse into the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Marlon Rodes-Sanchez but stops well short of a complete account.

Two Salinas police officers, Manuel Lopez and Jared Dominici, shot the teenager the afternoon of Jan. 18 at the Terrace Street home where he reportedly had been renting a room. Officers were dispatched to the residence near Cesar Chavez Park when other residents reported that the youth had armed himself with a butcher knife and was acting erratically.

In all, about 14 Salinas police officers were dispatched. Deputy District Attorney Ed Hazel, who is in charge of the investigation into the shooting, has said that before the fatal shooting officers shot the boy with rubber bullets and tasers and arranged for the Salinas Fire Department to spray him with a high-pressure hose in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the knife. Most of the confrontation occurred outside the residence but the boy was shot when officers pursued him into the vacated home and, according to Hazel, turned toward them with the knife in hand.

(Previous Partisan post on the shooting)

Witnesses and officials have indicated the confrontation lasted for more than an hour but the scanner traffic posted on the You Tube website runs slightly less than 22 minutes start to finish. The dispatch traffic provides little information about the use of the fire hose. Use of rubber bullets does not seem to be mentioned.

The audio recording appears to have been posted by an Ohio woman, Shelley Ginther, whose Facebook page indicates that she views herself as a law enforcement watchdog. She said in an email that she believed the youth was retreating from officers when he was shot but the recording does not seem to back that up. Recordings of police dispatch traffic are public records but often are withheld until formal investigations into the underlying event have been completed.

The recording begins with a dispatcher alerting units to a male “5150” armed with a knife. The number is  the Welfare & Institutions Code designation for someone with mental problems. He is described as wearing a red sweatshirt and white pants.

By the time patrol units start arriving, the dispatcher provides them with the boy’s name. One of the first officers at the scene advises via radio that he could not tell exactly what Rodes-Sanchez was doing. “He seems to be talking to himself… He is scraping the knife on the cement … He’s not responding to us.”

Three minutes into the incident, an officer reports that the youth appears to be sharpening the knife. The reporting person, the one who called police, lives at the residence, the dispatcher reported.

Four minutes in, officers repeat that the boy was not responding but was talking to himself. A family friend who was there at the time told the Monterey County Weekly that the boy was high on drugs, something he had smoked, but that he did not, in his view, pose a threat to officers.

Officers at the scene called for more units and asked to be provided with a shield. They said via radio that they wanted to remove other occupants from the residence but feared that without a shield, they would be exposed to the boy and his knife.

At different points, officers on either side of the property warned others that if there was gunfire, they might be in the line of fire.

At the 5 minute, 45 second mark, an officer at the scene asked the dispatcher to contact the fire department about using a water stream to disarm the boy. A fire engine arrived less than three minutes later

Officers reported that the boy still was not responding. They discussed removing some fence boards in an attempt to evacuate the residence.

“We’re still trying to talk to him. He’s talking to himself and sharpening the knife.”

At the 12:15 mark, an officer said they were waiting for a fire battalion chief to give the go-ahead to use the fire hose. Fifteen seconds later, at the 12:15 mark, an officer used the radio to say the boy had briefly dropped the knife but “continues to ignore us.”

At the 13:30 mark, there is a brief mention of a police dog. At the 14:00 mark, an officer says, “We’re letting him know that he’s under arrest at this point and needs to comply.”

Fourteen minutes into the incident, an officer reports that they would be deploying the water hose. It sounds as though he says something else would be deployed as well but it is indistinct.

Around the 15 minute mark, an officer says, “He’s moving…. He still has the knife.” At 15:22, “He’s walking back to the house…. He still has the knife.” At 15:45, “He’s back in the house.”

About 90 seconds later, an officer reports “multiple tasers deployed. Ineffective.” He says the boy is behind a wall and is still holding the knife.

Some 17 minutes into the incident, an officer reports that the boy is still not complying and is sharpening the knife.

At the 18 minute mark, someone reports “Shots fired. Shots fired.”

An officer reports that one round had come from inside the residence, had gone through a wall and had struck his patrol car. Though family members have said authorities did not send an ambulance, someone on the radio says “Send medical. Start AMR (American Medical Response).”

At the 18:40 mark, an officer reports “Suspect is down. Send the medical,” and seconds later another officer reports that the neighboring residence had been hit by gunfire. Just under 22 minutes after the recording began, it ends.

Authorities have  declined to publicly release body cam video or witness statements. A police spokesman has indicated that the video likely would be made available after the DA’s investigation is complete, a process that generally takes several months or longer.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Julie Engell January 27, 2017, 7:30 am

    Well, I guess we wait for “several months,” but frankly, I don’t understand enough to know why it should take so long. We seem to be able to “fast-track” and “streamline” just about everything else when powerful interests want to do so. I’m not suggesting corners should be cut when it ones to any kind of criminal investigation. However, it would be reassuring to know that investigations of officer involved shootings are given funding and personnel priority.

  • lia January 27, 2017, 8:06 am

    i’d like to know why it takes 14 officers and thousands of $$$ in resources to try to subdue a 16 yr. old person who has a knife

  • Diane Cotton January 27, 2017, 8:14 am

    It seems to me that when a 5150 is called in, someone who understands mental health problems should be sent. A mentally ill individual often cannot respond to threats and ultimatums. Better trained officers are necessary….. I don’t know the facts, but it seems to me empathy and understanding could prevent much suffering for everyone concerned: victims, police and those not able to obey the law.

  • Gregory D Lee January 27, 2017, 8:19 am

    Why didn’t the officers just shoot the knife out of his hand?

    • Helga Fellay January 28, 2017, 4:46 pm

      Gregory, I ask that question after every police murder. If the suspect is running away, just shoot at the leg. If you are afraid of the knife or rock or garden shears or cell phone or whatever in his hand, shoot at the hand or the arm. The fact that they shoot to kill at the slightest provocation or excuse is no excuse.

  • Gregory D Lee January 27, 2017, 8:22 am

    By the way, Section 5150 is from California’s Welfare and Institutions Code, it the penal code. It’s not a crime to be nuts. At least not yet.

    • Helga Fellay January 28, 2017, 4:42 pm

      Gregory, if it were a crime to be nuts, we would have to spend many $trillions to build new prisons. The US would be the World’s Incarceration Nation on Steroids (which we kind of are already, only more so, much more so).

  • Trish January 27, 2017, 8:22 am

    Salinas police have a sad history of killing mentally ill citizens. When are they going to get a shrink trained in this to help? Seriously, I would NEVER call for help with a manic person, because that person would end up murdered.

    I remember an incident some 20 years ago with the same outcome – family calls for help with bi-polar father who is acting weird. I knew the family and know they thought they would receive mental health intervention. The guy had a knife, was holed up in a bedroom and threatening suicide. The cops shoot & kill him. The family was devastated and looked for justice.

    This scenario has played out over and over again in our community, whether the mentally ill person is armed or not, the outcome is always the same: murdered. I, for one, want to see serious training and expert medical personnel on the police force to handle these poor ‘5150’ people – killing them is not the answer.

  • Jean January 27, 2017, 8:47 am

    Why doesn’t the County (as a resource for the City of Salinas and other cities) have a Mobile Emergency Response Team in the County Department of Mental Health? It could be deployed to situations like this. Staff could perform other professional support when not on call, and could provide training to first responders. This could save lives and lots of money.

  • Gordon Smith January 27, 2017, 9:15 am

    5150 is code for someone in a mental state of mind who could more than likely be threat to the public or themselves. 5150’s can be held for psychiatric observation for 72 hours without facing charges. This should have occurred in this case.

    • Joanna Greenshields January 27, 2017, 5:49 pm

      This is heartbreaking. I am not sure I would call the police to help me now, if I was dealing with someone with a mental health issue.

  • Diane Cotton January 27, 2017, 9:34 am

    I have tears when I read all of this.

    Mel Mason of the NAACP has a history of working with police departments regarding these kinds of situations. He can be reached through The Village Project, Inc., 1069 Broadway Ave, Seaside 831-392-1500. It would be a good thing for the Salinas Police Department to contact him.

  • Dan Turner January 27, 2017, 11:45 am

    The following is a serious question, not a joke. Why can’t the cops throw a heavy net over these folks? There must be some way, some technique, of using a net of some type or length so that it can be gotten over or around a person w/o the police having to get close enough to be hurt by a knife or a club that the person might have.

  • Dan Miller January 27, 2017, 12:17 pm

    The difference in time could be because of editing. Until all the facts are known I would think it would be a good idea not to criminalize the police. Jumping to conclusions hasn’t served us well in the past.

  • Eric Sand January 27, 2017, 12:59 pm

    The Salinas PD should have procedures in place that mirror Monterey County’s which in my experience is excellent and even though I’ve tried, cannot see how to improve it. In the event of a “5150” in the incorporated parts of Monterey County, an ambulance and a person who is on the Monterey County Crisis Intervention Team of the county’s social services agency and trained to deal with an unstable mentally ill person is dispatched when the Sheriff(s) on the scene request it. The person making the first contact with the Sheriff’s Dept. can also request that a member of the Monterey County Crisis Intervention Team be involved and the Sheriff, when arriving on the scene, does not approach the subject until the ambulance and person from the Crisis Intervention Team arrive at the scene. I believe our Sheriffs and other support members called into a situation have been extremely well trained and do everything possible to protect a person who is obviously having mental health issues….to shoot a person in such is state is unthinkable….

    • jimguy January 27, 2017, 6:20 pm

      Referring to someone as a “5150” is a considered a slur.

  • Julie Engell January 27, 2017, 1:00 pm

    What a novel but obvious idea! Wildlife folks use nets on bears, mountain lions and other critters that need to be tranquillized and transported. If you can use rubber bullets and fire hoses on people, I don’t know why you couldn’t try to net them to contain them. One big net, 14 officers — seems doable to me. I think trying to calm people down who are suffering some kind of crisis is preferable, but if they’re in such a state that communication is impossible, get the net.

    • ENRIQUE MENDEZ FLORES January 27, 2017, 6:46 pm

      Most likely our new chief of police Adele Frese (pronounced her lasr name like “essay…) in Salinas is thinking. “What kind of a police department did I get into”? How soon can I get out of here like my 22 predecessors and their 31 multi-agencies task forces and programs down the tube? Just to quote Mae Eisemann first police woman in Salinas, “The Salinas Police Department is undermanned but every man on the departmeny is doing his job concientiously. They are underpaid…” December 1947
      Pronto perhaps? Time will tell! Salinas for chief of police Number 24 with another magic wand?

  • jimguy January 27, 2017, 6:34 pm

    For decades, mental health services have been cut in this state and both political parties have played a role. I bet most cops didn’t plan on on becoming mental health professionals, but in fact they are our mental health first responders. I believe that they are getting better at it, but it’s got to be pretty tough, especilly when the emotionally disturbed person is armed. I know a big ole knife scares the bejesus out of me. Not sure how well that big ass net would work walking throug a small, darkened doorway, either.

    • Dan Turner January 28, 2017, 3:11 pm

      Of course a net wouldn’t work in cramped quarters. But is there some reason it couldn’t be used if this were taking place in the street, on the sidewalk, or in a parking lot?

  • bill leone January 28, 2017, 10:12 am

    The Larger Problem: Mental Health issues should not be handled by Law Enforcement at this time.
    A large percentage of the incarcerated juvenile & adult population should have been, or should be, treated for mental illness by competent mental health professionals Before they become a danger to themselves or others.

    The California mental health infrastructure was dismantled by governor Ronald Reagan during his two terms in office….it has never been reassembled. As a result, about 30% of American citizens now living on the street suffer from Mental Illness. And as a result of the 2016 elections, this situation will be getting Much Worse. The solution is Not to hire more policemen & women, but to provide more Mental Health & Social Services.

  • Richard Kreitman January 28, 2017, 1:39 pm

    A technical question for those knowledgeable in police procedure: Why didn’t they TASE him? Not a pleasant experience but not fatal either.

    • Royal Calkins January 30, 2017, 9:52 am

      Richard — They did tase him.

  • jim guy January 28, 2017, 3:04 pm

    Richard, I believe the training is Tasers don’t always work, and they don’t. Sometimes the darts don’t penetrate clothing and some people can fight through being Tased. The policy that I know about is that the cop with the Taser has to be backed up by a cop with a firearm if the subject has a lethal weapon, because if the darts don’t work, the cop gets stabbed.

  • Helga Fellay January 28, 2017, 6:24 pm

    This is not directly relevant to this topic, but it’s related, and might be of interest to some readers. A couple of years ago, I vacationed in Nicaragua. When I was in the beautiful colonial town of Grenada, seated in one of the many outdoor cafes along the touristy center across the street from my B&B, a man a block or so away began to act very loud and very violent and started throwing objects, including heavy metal pieces, unbelievable distances, shouting and screaming all the while. One landed near me. I, along with the other guests, quickly fled inside the restaurant, leaving our dinners. The hostess said something to the effect of “oh not again.” After a few minutes, the (totally unarmed) police arrived on their mopeds, parked them and calmly approached the out-of-control man. Upon seeing the police, the screaming stopped, and the man greeted the police like old friends. They calmly talked for a long while, like friends do, and eventually the man calmly walked away. Everybody returned to their outside tables and finished their dinners as if nothing had happened. One of the policemen, who looked very young, almost like a teenager, came into the lobby of my B&B. The restaurant, where I had dined earlier, sent over a free dinner for him, and as he sat down enjoying it, I couldn’t resist but sat next to him to learn what happened and why it happened the way it happened. He clearly didn’t like being questioned, but was polite.

    First I asked whether this man was drunk, on drugs, or a mental case. “All three” was the answer. I said that in the US, in a case like this, he would have been overpowered, handcuffed, and hauled off to prison. Why didn’t that happen here? He told me that according to Nicaraguan law, the police is not allowed to arrest the mentally ill. “You know him, then” I asked. “Oh yes” was the answer. “We keep getting called, and he knows that because he has a medical diagnosis, we cannot arrest him, so we talk to him and we do what we can to calm him down.” At this point he REALLY seemed to not want to talk about this any more, so I left him alone. I was wondering if the policemen were perhaps the violent man’s only friends, the only people who were willing to talk to him like friends, because it was their job to do so. I then wondered, whether perhaps every time he felt desperately lonely and needed a friend, all he needed to do was to act crazy and violent and he would promptly get what he craved. It’s a complex problem. I thought that they way they tried to solve it seems more humane. But still, it is a complex problem.

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