Off-duty cop who shot armed robbery suspect in San Pablo is gun expert

Authorities say Amanuel Moreno, 29, robbed an employee at a Nation's restaurant in San Pablo at gunpoint and probably had no idea that there was an off-duty cop inside watching his every move.

KTVU has learned that UC Berkeley police Sgt. Brian Sato was having lunch with his wife when he saw the robbery. The cashier told KTVU the sergeant then challenged the suspect.

"He yelled at him to drop his weapon," the employee said. "I ran, and all I heard was a gunshot. I don't know how many were shot, I just heard one."

KTVU legal analyst Michael Cardoza noted that many police officers, while off-duty, carry their service weapon or an alternative weapon.

Cardoza says cases like these should serve as a warning to would-be robbers.

"So when you walk in somewhere there just might be an off-duty police officer there armed and trained on how to use it," Cardoza said.

In fact, Sgt. Sato is the lead firearms instructor and range master – or shooting range supervisor - for the UC Berkeley Police Department and has served overseas as an Army reservist.

The suspect served time in federal prison for robbing several East Bay banks of $6,000 in 2012 and 2013.

In a sentencing memo in that case, federal prosecutors wrote, "The defendant's criminal conduct has demonstrated a concerning history of violence that appears to be escalating... In the final bank robberies, the defendant moved from telling the victim tellers that he had a gun to outright threats to shoot them."

Cardoza says the sergeant appears to be justified in shooting the armed suspect.

"You are the one with the gun. People don't know what you're going to do with that. They don't know if you give them money, if you're going shoot them after," he said.

Sato is on administrative leave from the UC Berkeley police force. The shooting is under investigation by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office.