• Wed. Dec 7th, 2022



San Leandro police release footage of August fatal shooting

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SAN LEANDRO — Police released body-worn camera footage Tuesday of a confrontation last month between a vehicle-theft suspect and an officer that ended in a fatal shooting, but said investigations into the incident are continuing.

In footage shared to social media and described as a “critical incident video,” police said Alameda County Sheriff’s dispatch told a police dispatcher that a black Acura Integra had failed to yield to deputies earlier and was last seen northbound on Benedict Drive toward Estudillo Avenue.

The sheriff’s dispatcher also said a similar vehicle failed to yield to Hayward police two hours earlier, and added that the Acura had been reported stolen and might have a firearm inside.

Around 11 p.m., officers encountered the Acura near East 14th Street and Durant Avenue, and pursued it when it failed to yield to a traffic-stop attempt.

Moments later, the Acura crashed into a parked semi-truck trailer in the 10400 block of Pearmain Street. and police said the man got out and pointed a semi-automatic weapon at San Leandro police Officer Anthony Pantoja. The officer told the man to put his hands up, released his K-9 dog Kane and began firing his service weapon while running.

The man ran northbound on Apple Street onto Pippin Street, where he hopped a home’s fence as Pantoja continued to fire toward him before approaching the man on the ground next to a home.

In body-worn camera footage, other officers can be seen responding to the man as Pantoja yells at him “put your hands out to your side, I will shoot you in your f-ing head.” Pantoja then leaves the scene, searching for his deployed K-9 as other officers tend to the man before paramedics’ arrival. The dog was later found about eight hours later, police said.

Despite paramedics’ efforts, the man, identified as 35-year-old Vasquinho Bettencourt of Castro Valley, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators who arrived soon found a discarded semi-automatic weapon under the truck, and recovered it as evidence.

San Leandro police said they are still reviewing the incident, adding that Oakland police are acting as lead investigating agency because the shooting happened in Oakland. The Alameda County district attorney’s office is conducting a separate and parallel investigation into the incident, police said.

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