The Santa Clara County District Attorney released a report Tuesday saying police were justified when they shot and killed a 27-year-old man during a confrontation at a San Jose energy facility in January.
The 44-page report and three body camera videos detail the events leading up to Thompson Nguyen’s shooting on the evening of Jan. 9. According to the report, officers Adam Hutson and Timothy Faye lawfully shot Nguyen while he was holding an axe and a pipe at Metcalf Energy Center.
The graphic videos show Hutson and Faye following Nguyen shortly after 5 p.m., asking him to drop an axe and saying they want to talk to him. They tell him to “drop the weapon” multiple times, and he says, “I didn’t do anything,” and “Shoot me!” Police respond saying they don’t want to shoot.
Nguyen is seen moving toward the left side of a police car, where Hutson was located, and several gunshots can be heard in the video before Nguyen drops to the ground. Hutson fired four shots with a pistol and Faye fired four more shots with a rifle after Nguyen walked past Hutson “unfazed,” according to the report.
Hutson, who was about three feet away from Nguyen when he fired the first shots, said in the report he didn’t have time to switch to a less-lethal weapon, like a Taser. He believed Nguyen would have attacked him or other officers with the axe.
Faye said in the report he believed Nguyen would have injured Hutson if he had not fired additional shots. At the time, Faye did not have a clear view of Hutson on the other side of the police car.
It is unclear in the video whether Nguyen brandished a weapon at officers. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at 5:37 p.m.
Nguyen’s toxicology results found he was under the influence of methamphetamine and amphetamine at the time of his death. The medical examiner determined he died due to internal bleeding after being shot five times.
Police initially responded to a call from an employee reporting a suspicious person at the energy facility at 1 Blanchard Road in South San Jose. Nguyen had entered the facility after jumping a fence, according to police.
An investigation after the shooting revealed journals in Nguyen’s car written between August and October 2017 that claimed employees of the energy facility had placed microchips in his brain to erase his memory, the report says.
Nguyen had been placed on a 5150 psychiatric hold in September 2017 when he walked into traffic yelling the name of a girlfriend, according to the report. He was diagnosed with psychosis at the time, but family members did not recall him receiving medication, the report says.
Police had also been called to his home before when he was allegedly wielding a knife, and family members asked police to leave because they didn’t want officers to shoot Nguyen, according to police interviews with his sister and brother.
Police searched Nguyen’s backpack after his death and allegedly found several knives, handcuffs, a flashlight, pepper spray and a replica police badge. After obtaining a search warrant for his car, police retrieved three poles, a sword, seven knives, a nun chuck, a GoPro camera and the two journals, according to the report.
Prosecutor David Boyd wrote in the report:
“Any reasonable officer would conclude that Nguyen, whether as a result of a mental health issue or not, had decided that he was going to die that day and that if he had to attack an officer with a weapon to make it happen, he was going to do so.”