FAIRFIELD (KRON) — Family members of a Napa man who was shot and killed by police are speaking out about the incident.
The Napa Police Department says on Tuesday night that 23-year-old Noel Russell was carrying a knife and threatening people when two officers shot and killed him.
On Thursday afternoon, KRON4’s Charles Clifford visited with the Russell family who say they are shocked and want to know exactly why Noel was killed.
“He was certainly a bright light to us in this family,” brother Samuel Champion said.
On Thursday afternoon, KRON4 sat down to speak with Russells’ brother, sister, and cousin, Leanda, who Noel called mom.
“He’s the only child I’ve had,” Leanda said.
They remember a gentle soul who loved basketball, music, and was an aspiring filmmaker.
He directed and starred in a short film while attending classes at Pacific Union College in Napa County.
“He was a sweetheart,” sister Ebony Houston said. “He was goofy. The life of the party. He always put others before himself.”
Napa police say that on Monday evening, two officers responded to reports that Russell was acting strangely near a Home Depot.
He was also allegedly threatening motorists and people on foot with a knife. Shortly after making contact with Russell, both officers fired their service weapons at him. He died a short time later.
The two officers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave and the Napa County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an investigation into the incident.
Noel;s family is stunned by the news and they want to know why the officers, who were armed with handguns, felt it necessary to kill a young man carrying a knife.
“There’s no use of a taser,” Champion said. “There’s no use of any kind of different ways to detain him.”
Napa police also said this week that Russell was wanted on two warrants for drug possession and assaulting a peace officer.
His family acknowledges that Noel faced challenges in his life but they say he didn’t deserve to die.
“It seems there’s a picture being painted of our brother that is not accurate,” Houston said.
“He was just another youth that had to go through some things, but at the same time, he’s just not afforded that time to turn it around now,” Champion said.
The family also says they have retained a lawyer to assist them in learning exactly what happened on Monday evening.