SAN JOSE, Calif. - The young man who was hailed a hero for confronting an armed suspect in a taquería and was then shot by a San Jose police officer sat down with KTVU for an exclusive interview about how he’s moving on with his life.
For the first time, the public gets to know K’aun Green in his own element – on the football field.
Green has been through a lot, but he’s determined not to let being shot by police slow him down.
The City College of San Francisco defensive end, wearing the No. 24 jersey, was doing what he does best on Tuesday at George M. Rush Stadium.
"You get a rush, a real rush, just turnt up, joy," Green said.
Football is his passion.
"You get a sack, and it’s like winning the Super Bowl," Green said.
He grew up living and breathing the sport.
"It’s my life," Green said. "It’s like a first love."
At 6’4, the student athlete stands out on the field where he’s a key part of the team’s first line of defense, not unlike the dangerous situation he ended up in, in a San Jose taquería in March 2022.
Surveillance video showed Green confronting an armed man inside the restaurant.
Green took the gun away from the suspect.
City College of San Francisco defensive end KAun Green speaks to KTVU, Nov. 21, 2023. (KTVU)
When police showed up and saw Green holding the gun, to keep it away from the suspect, officer Mark McNamara opened fire, "Right here," Green said while he pointed out the scars where one of the bullets struck his knee and got lodged in his thigh.
He was also shot in the arm and stomach.
Green said the pain in his stomach is still sharp and makes it hard to do simple things like digest red meat, but he’s determined to move on with his life.
"I got to force myself to play," Green said. "It still hurts, but I don’t want to say anything about it. I’d just rather be on a field than in a bed."
His teammates don’t treat him any differently.
"No, I wouldn’t let them," Green said. "It’s really like a dog-eat-dog sport. Only the strong survive. You got to be strong."
City College of San Francisco Head Coach Jimmy Collins described Green as an elite athlete and a leader both on and off the field.
"K’aun’s a high-level player, and he’s going to get some good opportunities at the division one level after this season," Collins said. "He’s been unbelievably impactful for us this year."
Green compared the game to going to therapy.
"Takes me away from all the pain," Green said.
When asked if he would do anything differently when it comes to the gunman, Green replied: "I wouldn’t change a thing. God has a plan for everybody. That’s how God wanted it to play out, and I’m still here. I’m still doing what I love to do."
Green said he would graduate in December and plans to transfer to a four-year university.
KTVU met him during football practice while the team was getting ready for their next game against American River College.
His dream is to make it all the way to the National Football League.
Green’s lawyers are suing the city of San Jose and former officer McNamara, who is no longer with the department.
They claimed the racist text messages from McNamara to other officers prove the shooting was racially motivated.
The civil case goes to trial in April in a San Jose courtroom.
On Tuesday, KTVU learned McNamara's name was added to the state's de-certification list.
SJPD Chief Anthony Mata recommended McNamara lose his ability to work as a police officer after learning about the text messages.
Efforts to reach out to McNamara have been unsuccessful.