Police explain why stabbing suspect wasn't cuffed at first

Image 1 of 2

KTVU cameras were rolling earlier this week as police arrested a student accused of stabbing his principal at a special-ed school in West Berkeley. Some viewers wondered why officers didn't handcuff him as as they detained him near a freeway overpass.

 KTVU was on the scene as 20-year-old Angel Juarez was detained by Berkeley police on Tuesday.He's not handcuffed. In fact, the young man, who has autism, is walking freely with an officer near the I-80 freeway on-ramp in Albany.

We caught up with that officer, Jennifer Coats and asked her about her tactics.

"So there are times when sometimes doing less is more," Coats said. "In this case, I wanted to make a connection with him verbally. And he was complying. So at that point i didn't feel like we needed to try and escalate the situation."

The officer's background is unique.

Coats is one of the first Berkeley officers to go through CIT,  or crisis intervention training. She also works with the Special Olympics.

We showed our video to Sgt. Chris Stines, head of the Berkeley police union. He says the officer took care not to over stimulate someone with autism.

"As you can see he's extremely cooperative.," Stines said. 'He's very receptive to what the officers are saying. She says, 'be careful stepping over this,' and he does. I think it's important to understand we're looking for the best resolution for everybody in this situation."

Juarez was eventually handcuffed in the police car. 

The delicate way in which Berkeley police treated Juarez belies the violence that took place at Via Center, a special-ed school on 6th Street in West Berkeley.

Police said administrators met with Juarez because he had a lost a job due to absences.

According to court records, Juarez became upset, told the administrators, "I'm going to kill all of you" and grabbed a large knife from a filing cabinet. As this was going on, the school's executive director Anne Vandenbosch locked the door so that he couldn't leave the office.

Police say Juarez then stabbed Vandenbosch twice in her back, twice in her neck and once on her head.

"The principal victim was stabbed all over and is in the office," a dispatcher said on the police radio.

Police say Juarez fled the scene with the knife.

"Suspect was seen running with knife still in his right hand,' an officer reported on the radio. "Its approximately 10 to 12 inches in length."

When the CHP spotted Juarez near the Buchanan street on-ramp to I-80 Albany, officers say he no longer had the knife.

From there, he was taken into custody.