SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

San Francisco police released videos Monday of two officers shooting and killing a 21-year-old man who allegedly rushed an officer with a knife after carjacking a Toyota Prius on Market Street.

Officers Nick Delgado and Kyle Roach fatally shot Cesar Vargas at around 11:30 p.m. Oct. 10 near Otis and Brady streets when he allegedly sprinted toward one of them with a knife in his hand, police said.

“Bitch I’ll kill ya,” Vargas allegedly yelled at an officer after police told him to drop the weapon and get on the ground.

Police released body-worn camera and surveillance video as well as recordings of four 911 calls and dispatch audio from the incident during a virtual town hall meeting.

Police Cmdr. Robert O’Sullivan described a chaotic series of events that began when Vargas allegedly started opening car doors near Market and Valencia streets.

Vargas allegedly jumped on the hood and windshield of a Toyota Prius and pulled the driver out of the vehicle, holding a knife to her face.

“Mr. Vargas shouted something to the effect of ‘kill me bitch,’” police said.

Police said they recovered this knife after officers shot Cesar Vargas. (Courtesy SFPD)

Police said they recovered this knife after officers shot Cesar Vargas. (Courtesy SFPD)

Surveillance video appeared to show a man identified by police as Vargas wearing a gray Gap hoodie with dark-colored pants.

He could be seen in various videos jumping on the Prius and also shoving a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus.

Police released a still shot of the cracked windshield on the Prius.

When police arrived at the scene, Vargas allegedly began to run as officers briefly pursued him in their police vehicle with lights and sirens on.

Both surveillance and body-worn camera captured the encounter that unfolded within a matter of seconds when Roach and Delgado exited their vehicle at Otis and Brady streets to encounter Vargas.

“What do you have, man?” one of the officers shouted. “Drop it, drop it.”

Videos show Vargas walked away from officers, removed the hood of his sweatshirt from his head and tossed his glasses as police illuminated him with flashlights.

He then appeared to sprint toward either Roach or Delgado with the knife in his hand while threatening to kill them.

San Francisco police on Monday released body camera footage of incidents leading up to the police shoting of Cesar Vargas on Oct. 10. (Courtesy SFPD)

San Francisco police on Monday released body camera footage of incidents leading up to the police shoting of Cesar Vargas on Oct. 10. (Courtesy SFPD)

The officers can be heard firing at least four gunshots, causing Vargas to fall to the ground and moan in pain.

Roach and Delgado then waited for backup to arrive and help handcuff Vargas before rendering aid.

Vargas died at the scene.

While the San Francisco Examiner previously reported the names of the officers involved in the shooting, police confirmed their identities for the first time Monday and revealed that both officers opened fire.

Police Chief Bill Scott offered his condolences to the family and friends of Vargas. He said the department intended to release information from the shooting in a “non-judgmental way.”

“This evening is about transparency,” Scott said.

The videos prompted outrage from some callers who dialed into the meeting to accuse the police of failing to de-escalate the situation.

“It is very clear from the evidence and video presented that this person was in a mental health crisis,” said Adriana Camarena, an advocate with the group Justice for Luis Gongora Pat.

Camarena acknowledged that Vargas appeared to have a knife and to have attempted to enter cars, but questioned whether police could have established a perimeter to contain him.

“What did the officers do to de-escalate the situation other than rush this individual?” Camarena said. “Did these officers make a plan to de-escalate because I didn’t see any.”

The case marks the first fatal SFPD shooting since officers shot and killed 21-year-old Jehad Eid during an exchange of gunfire at a barber shop on Geneva Avenue in March 2018.

Five investigations are ongoing into the shooting by agencies including the District Attorney’s Office Independent Investigations Bureau, the SFPD’s Investigative Services and Internal Affairs divisions, the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Department of Police Accountability.

This is the first fatal police shooting under District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who has pledged to hold officers accountable. His office will decide whether to file charges against Roach and Delgado.

“The recent shooting of Cesar Vargas was a tragedy,” Boudin said in a statement to the Examiner. “Our office remains committed to examining each use of force case carefully and that is exactly what is happening here.”

Boudin said his office is also providing support to Vargas’ family.

Harry Stern, an attorney for Roach, previously told the Examiner that the shooting was “an entirely lawful use of force under any applicable standard.”

An attorney for Delgado has not returned requests for comment.

A recording of the police presentation at the town hall meeting that includes videos and audio recordings from the case can be viewed here.

This story has been updated to include additional information.


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