Kings County officials are trying to determine whether the man who was fatally shot by a gang officer Friday at the Santa Rosa Rancheria near Lemoore was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
The Kings County Sheriff’s Department and the police chief of Avenal released more details Monday about the officer-involved shooting that claimed the life of Dave Phoenix, 25, of Winnemucca, Nev.
The Avenal police officer, whose name was not made public, fired four times. At least two bullets hit Phoenix. His mother lives at the rancheria, where he lived on and off, authorities said.
Phoenix pointed a gun at an officer, Assistant Sheriff Dave Putnam said. The gun turned out to be a replica lacking the usual orange tip such replicas ordinarily have, he said.
An autopsy was to be done Monday to find out if Phoenix was on drugs or alcohol at the time, and to determine the exact cause of death.
This is the first fatal police shooting in the 6 1/2 -year history of the Avenal Police Department, Chief Russell Stivers said.
The officer from Avenal was on a countywide gang task force when the incident occurred. He has three years of experience with Avenal police and a year and half previous experience elsewhere, Stivers said.
Putnam said that when the incident began, callers identified Phoenix to dispatchers and officers knew him from previous incidents involving drugs and alcohol.
Phoenix fled to a home on Alkalki Drive and was surrounded. He was in the home and officers made several announcements for him to come outside and surrender.
“This never happened,” Putnam said. “He ultimately fled this residence on foot after climbing out a side window.”
The incident lasted more than an hour.
Near 17th Avenue and Coyote Court, “Mr. Phoenix turned and pointed the handgun he was carrying at a law enforcement officer,” Putnam said. The officer fired “obviously fearing for his life when a handgun was pointed at him.”
No shots were fired by Phoenix at the officers, he said. The Avenal officer was not hurt.