No charges filed in fatal officer involvced shooting last year involving armed man

SEASIDE (KRON/BCN) — Charges will not be filed in the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old man who resisted an officer while armed with garden shears and a machete last year in Seaside, the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

Officer Manny Fernandez acted in self-defense last Nov. 22 when he shot and killed Nestor Cruz, who allegedly used his 3-year-old son as a shield from police and assaulted the officer, district attorney’s officials said.

Fernandez is a 14-year police officer and knew Cruz threatened to kill his common-law wife and their three children ages 3, 5, and 8, according to district attorney’s officials.

A week before the shooting, Cruz’s wife decided to leave him because he was abusive and on Nov. 22 went to their rented home in the 1600 block of Laguna Street to pick up the children, who they shared custody over, district attorney’s officials said.

Cruz refused to send the children with his wife and the pair began to argue, according to district attorney’s officials.

The woman left the home with two of the three children after Cruz allegedly choked her, leaving behind their 3-year-old son who wanted to stay with his father, according to district attorney’s officials.

The wife recounted the incident to a friend, who in turn notified police, according to district attorney’s officials.

Fernandez responded to the scene around 5:30 p.m. that day and spoke with the mother before approaching Cruz, who was in a truck with the toddler near the home, district attorney’s officials said.

Fernandez warned Cruz he would be arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and delaying an officer, but Cruz moved away from the officer with his son, toward his toolbox at the truck’s rear, according to district attorney’s officials.

Fernandez attempted to physically arrest Cruz, who had grabbed garden shears with 10-inch blades from the toolbox, prompting the officer to draw his firearm, district attorney’s officials said.

The suspect continued to hold the shears after the officer repeatedly told him to drop the tool, district attorney’s officials said.

Cruz allegedly charged at the officer with the shears while he carried his child on his left side, according to district attorney’s officials.

Cruz then went to his toolbox to switch the shears for a machete with a 22-inch blade, which he lifted above his head as he continued to refuse Fernandez’s orders to drop the weapon, district attorney’s officials said.

Fernandez went to his patrol car for his K-9 partner and both faced Cruz on the home’s driveway, where Cruz yelled in Spanish, “Well, kill me,” to the officer, according to district attorney’s officials.

Cruz continued to ignore the officer’s demands to let go of the machete while his son was crying and the K-9 was unable to bite him, district attorney’s officials said.

Cruz allegedly threatened to kill Fernandez while they were 2 to 3 feet away from each other, and in return the officer shot two rounds, according to district attorney’s officials.

Cruz was transported to a hospital for gunshot wounds to his head and neck and was pronounced dead about an hour later, district attorney’s officials said.
“The law of self-defense and defense of others does not require proof that Mr. Cruz intended to stab Officer Fernandez with a machete, although it was a reasonable inference he intended just that,” district attorney’s officials said.

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