Family questions chain of events in deadly crash following Richmond chase

RICHMOND, Calif. (KTVU) – KTVU is learning more about the man killed after a police chase in Richmond Saturday night.

Police say he was an innocent victim, simply driving home from a nearby community center with friends. Now, Anthony Nguyen's family is raising questions about the chain of events that led to his death.

At Moler Barber College in San Pablo, the chair at Nguyen's barber station is empty, and the tools are put away. The mirror at his station has become a memorial to the 24-year-old husband and father, and friends and classmates have been writing their goodbyes on the mirror all week.

"This one right here hurts. A lot," Stevie Early, Nguyen's friend and instructor at Moler, said.

Early said Nguyen graduated from the college's 10-month program on Friday. He was killed in a car crash the next day.

""He told me, 'I'm going to go open up a shop in Vegas'" Early said of his last conversation with Nguyen. "He just really wanted to take care of his baby. Make sure his family was taken care of. That's the type of guy he was."

Nguyen never lived to fulfill that dream. He died Saturday night in a car crash at 24th and Gaynor in Richmond. The driver who crashed into him had been fleeing police. Epigmenio Perez, 20, was arrested for manslaughter.

Police had tried to pull Perez over for driving recklessly, but lost sight of his car and stopped the chase. About 30 seconds later, the crash happened.

It's a chain of events that angers Nguyen's family.

"If the police not follow him, my son not die," Nguyen's mother, Thuy Nguyen, said.

Richmond police said Perez, who was driving recklessly and failed to pull over in the first place, is the one to blame.

Sgt. Nicole Abetkov of the Richmond Police Department said, "Because of his actions, that's what caused the accident, not the fact that we were chasing him," Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said, "Ultimately, the fault rests on him."

Richmond police policy allows officers to initiate a pursuit to stop and arrest drivers for traffic violations like speeding.

"He's a danger to people," Abetkov said of Perez's actions. "He's a danger to people on the roadway."

But no matter who is at fault, it doesn't change reality for a mother mourning her only son, and family and friends struggling to deal with the loss of a young father.

"He left us so soon. He didn't deserve this," Nguyen's sister, Stephanie Nguyen said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds for the Nguyen family after the tragedy. Interested parties can make a donation here.