Visalia Police held a press conference Monday. Chief Colleen Mestas laid out the details of the fatal officer involved shooting. The suspect identified as Armando Santibanez. Mestas says he was an ex-felon and a drug dealer.
Chief Mestas said, "The narcotic unit was familiar with Santibanez and had arrested him on two prior occasions."
Police started following Santibanez in December. Investigators say he was selling meth and using rental cars without a license to make the deals. On Friday, officers pulled him over in hopes of making an arrest, "he was immediately defiant to the commands of our officer, he began to roll up the window, he began to rev the vehicle," Mestas added.
She says officers boxed Santibanez in but he reached for something under his seat, forcing one officer to shoot. "Our officer shot five times at the suspect, believing at any time during the revving of this engine that was continual, that the car was going to either prevent him from living or other citizens."
Santibanez died at the hospital. Investigators say they found a stolen gun in the car he was in, one expended round in the floor board and a nylon mask. Mestas says officers found 46 grams of meth in his apartment along with pipes, scales and packaging materials.
Neighbors say they didn't know Santibanez and had no idea what he was up to. Michael Sweat said, "It was a shock because this is a nice neighborhood and we don't like to have that stuff around here because there's kids and especially the school down the road."
Mestas says she stands by her officer's actions. She says the investigation isn't over and it's in the hands of the sheriff's department.