Body-worn camera video shows Chula Vista police officer fatally shoot armed hostage-taker
As a man armed with a knife held another man hostage outside the front door of a Chula Vista apartment, a police officer inside the home slowly unlocked and cracked open the door.
Then he took a shot at the armed man.
Newly released body-worn camera footage shows the moment when Officer Alfonso Perdomo shoots Perri Sammarco, as well as the tense moments just before the shooting on Feb. 4.
Sammarco, 37, died at a hospital the next day.
The incident occurred at an apartment complex on Moss Street near Broadway, where several residents called 911 about 7:45 p.m. They said two homeless men were banging on doors and yelling. One caller said a friend felt unsafe; another said residents in the complex felt scared, according to audio recordings of the calls.
The Chula Vista Police Department released the audio and body-worn camera video last week in accordance with state law.
According to the footage, an officer finds the men sitting against a wall underneath a stairwell near a cluster of apartments. A small, collapsible wagon, or pull cart, is positioned in front of them, with a green blanket covering the top.
As the officer walks up, a man — later identified as Sammarco — shouts, “Back up, man. Back up!”
“Chula Vista police,” announces the officer, a flashlight in his left hand.
Sammarco repeatedly shouts at the officer to back up. The victim warns: Sammarco “has a knife.”
“Let me see your hands,” the officer says.
Sammarco continues: “Back up. Don’t shoot me, man. Back up. Back the (expletive) up, man!”
“Come out from behind there,” the officer commands repeatedly.
The officer eventually pulls the wagon away from the men, exposing them. Sammarco, who has a knife in his right hand, pulls the other man closer to him. The officer pulls out his handgun and points it in their direction as Sammarco appears to try to hide behind the victim, who squirms, the video shows.
“Drop the knife,” the officer orders repeatedly, as Sammarco continues to tell the officer to back up.
The victim then begins to yell at officers to “de-escalate the situation.” He, too, tells officers to back up.
“I’m going to cut his throat,” Sammarco shouts, presumably referring to the victim. “Back up.”
The officer again orders Sammarco to drop the knife.
“Just, please, go back. Please, just go back,” the victim yells. “I’m going to get killed over this.”
The officer says they can’t back up because Sammarco has a knife to the other man’s neck. The officer repeats the command for Sammarco to drop the knife, and the men continue to yell back at the officers.
Sammarco then stands, pulls the other man up, and they both walk backward toward the front door of an apartment, according to the video. Sammarco then kicks the door, which does not open.
Eventually, the two men sit near the door, with Sammarco behind the other man.
In the video, an officer the department said was trained in crisis negotiation stands near the stairwell and reiterates that officers can’t back off because Sammarco has the knife to the other man’s neck.
Sammarco replies that the victim is going to “get killed.”
According to police, residents in the apartment allowed officers to enter through a sliding patio door, located around the corner from the front door, out of Sammarco’s view.
Footage shows an officer — Perdomo — walking through the living room. He slowly unlocks the front door, walks back into the living room and faces the door, a rifle in his right hand.
Perdomo pushes the door open with his left hand, then shoots a single round.
Police said later that Sammarco was struck in his head.
Immediately after the shooting, the man who had been held at knifepoint ran toward officers. He had suffered cuts to his head, neck and hands, and was taken to a hospital for treatment, according to police.
The victim was described as homeless and told police he didn’t know his assailant before he was forced to go into the apartment complex, police have said.
The video includes an image of a knife police said officers recovered at the scene.