Fresno Chief Dyer says officer had to make split-second decision in shooting

The Fresno BeeJuly 17, 2014 

A Fresno police officer who feared a woman would be killed by a knife-wielding man fired four shots at the attacker, Michael Reams, Chief Jerry Dyer said Thursday.

Dyer filled in details about the confrontation that ended with the death of Reams and his victim, Cindy Raygoza, just after noon Monday on El Dorado Street near Fink White Playground. Dyer said the officer did not know that Reams had already stabbed Raygoza in the chest and upper torso by the time the shots were fired.

The chief said the deadly incident illustrates the type of split-second decision officers are forced to make in extreme domestic violence incidents. The names of the officer and his partner, both 17-year veterans, have not been released.

Police arrived at the home about 12:03 p.m. on reports that a man and a woman were arguing inside an apartment. There were also reports that a young boy was crying in the front yard. Dyer said the officers heard Raygoza screaming or crying in the home and knocked on the door three separate times, but Reams warned them that he had a knife and would fatally stab Raygoza if officers entered.

Officers heard no sound for less than 30 seconds, then heard Reams say "it's too late." Dyer said that's when the officer kicked the door twice, which opened with difficulty because Raygoza was lying near it, with Reams on top of her, his legs straddling the sides of her body. The knife was poised to stab and was moving down when the officer, at the threshold, fired the rounds.

"He believed Reams was about ready to stab her," Dyer said. "What the officer did not know was that Michael Reams had already stabbed Cindy Raygoza 22 times."

Raygoza also had facial injuries from being struck with some type of object multiple times before police arrived, Dyer said.

Inside the home, investigators discovered the home's back door had been locked and barricaded with a couch.

"The challenge for officers is when to make entry, how to make entry, and you're making that decision in a split second," Dyer said.

The reporter may be reached at (559) 441-6339, jguy@fresnobee.com or @jimguy27 on Twitter.

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