SAN LEANDRO, Calif. - Vasquinho Bettencourt had dropped an assault rifle before he was shot and killed by a San Leandro police officer, according to newly-released body-camera video. His anguished mother wants answers.
"I just wanted to know why they did that. If somebody's not armed, why they killed him?" said Mary Tanigawa.
Body-camera video released by San Leandro police shows K-9 Officer Anthony Pantoja chasing Bettencourt last month.
Bettencourt was driving an Acura Integra that authorities say failed to stop earlier that night for both Hayward police and Alameda County sheriff’s deputies.
"He’s gonna hit the dead-end here. He just foot-bailed," Pantoja told dispatch.
The suspect crashed into a parked big-rig on Pearmain Street in East Oakland.
"Hands up!" Pantoja ordered.
The officer told investigators that’s when Bettencourt got out and pointed an assault rifle at him.
Pantoja released his K-9, began chasing the suspect and fired numerous shots at the fleeing suspect in several bursts of gunfire
"Shots fired! Shots fired!" Pantoja yelled on the radio.
The officer then fired a fourth and final round as he caught up with the suspect in a yard.
"Man down, man down!" the officer reported.
Bettencourt, a father of two, died at the scene.
It wasn’t until after the shooting that police realized that the suspect had dropped his assault rifle on the ground, under the semi trailer, at the beginning of the foot chase.
"San Leandro PD is trigger-happy," said Bettencourt's sister Sandra Bettencourt, who wants Pantoja to be criminally charged.
"I want that officer to do time, like anybody else would have to do time, for killing my brother, because he was not armed," she said. "Just because you have a badge does not give you the right to kill somebody and get away with it."
Officer Pantoja remains on paid administrative leave. He’s been with the department for eight years and previously worked for the LAPD.
Because the shooting happened in Oakland, the officer’s actions are being investigated by Oakland and San Leandro police, as well as the Alameda County DA's office. Prosecutors will determine whether the officer will face criminal charges.