District Attorney Jeff Rosen declined to file charges against a county sheriff deputy who shot and killed a 61-year-old woman described as "crazy, evil, pissed, possessed" the night of the fatal encounter.
Andrea Naharro-Gionet had a history of mental instability, according to the DA's report, and she had been acting erratic in the days preceding her encounter with law enforcement Nov. 16, 2013. Her husband, Camie Gionet, told investigators that Naharro-Gionet had been talking to people who weren't there, posting nonsensical rants on Facebook and, hours before she was shot and killed, had attempted to stab him with a knife when he tried to enter their San Jose home.
When three deputies from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office arrived at an apartment complex on Cleveland Avenue shortly after midnight, they found Naharro-Gionet holding a guitar in one hand and a kitchen knife with a five-inch blade in the other. The DA's report says Naharro-Gionet stood five-feet-tall and weighed 160 pounds.
According to Deputy Jennifer Galan—who fired three shots that struck Naharro-Gionet in the neck, chest and abdomen—the suspect was yelling things like, "What the fuck are you going to do?" and "Why are you here?" Galan had been with the Sheriff's Office for three years at the time of the shooting and had training to deal with people with mental health issues. She was joined on the call by deputies Fernando Espinosa and Joseph Brown.
After being told to drop the weapon, Naharro-Gionet reportedly advanced on the officers, who shielded themselves with patrol cars. At a certain point, Naharro-Gionet was able to get in between the officers, with Brown on one side and Galan and Espinosa on the other.
The report states: "Deputy Galan recognized this created a crossfire situation and told Deputy Brown to 'get the fuck out of the way.'"
This command got the attention of Naharro-Gionet, who then turned on Galan and Espinosa.
Deputy Galan reportedly told Espinosa, "Fuck, we're gonna have to shoot her."
Espinosa responded, "I don't want to."
Deputy Brown decided to run behind another car and get out of the way, and deputies Galan and Espinosa retreated back toward the apartment while Naharro-Gionet advanced. Espinosa then stepped off to the side, between two cars, while Galan retreated further back. Naharro-Gionet reportedly came within four feet of Galan and raised the knife, which is when the deputy fired three shots.
Following the shooting, Deputy Brown stayed with Naharro-Gionet while deputies Galan and Espinosa searched the home. They found marijuana in the apartment, and an autopsy found traces of the drug in Naharro-Gionet's system.
"The Deputies responded and attempted to resolve the situation through voice commands and then drawn weapons," states the DA's report. "Naharro-Gionet did not respond. Instead she advanced on the Deputies, chased them into the street, around patrol cars and back towards her residence, separating the three Deputies and leaving Deputy Galan with nowhere to retreat. Naharro-Gionet was within 4 to 6 feet of Deputy Galan who had run out of room to back away, when Naharro-Gionet raised the knife to chest level. Deputy Galan ordered her to drop the knife one more time and Naharro-Gionet refused and continued her advance. Preventing injuries to herself and her fellow Deputies, Deputy Galan fired her gun three times in self-defense."
Naharro-Gionet's family filed two wrongful death lawsuits last year against the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office. The complaints stated that Deputy Galan's use of lethal force was unnecessary. Naharro-Gionet's husband, Camie, gave an interview to Silicon Valley De-Bug last year talking about his late wife's life. The Mercury News reports he has since died, and posts on Naharro-Gionet's Facebook page note as much.
This is the third officer-involved shooting report released by the DA in the last month. All of the reports involved suspects who were believed to have mental health issues. In May, a San Jose State police officer was found to have broken no laws in the shooting of a "mentally unstable" man who was carrying a saw blade. Last week, a San Jose police officer was cleared in the shooting death of mentally ill teenager who was found to be carrying a power drill that officers mistook for a gun.
In all of the DA's officer-involved shooting reports going back to 2011, no officers have been found to have violated any laws.