Six Fremont Police Officer-Involved Shooting Videos Released, Full Breakdown Here
Warning: This article contains graphic videos that may be triggering and inappropriate for some viewers.
On Wednesday, Fremont Police Department complied with the new transparency law, SB 1421, which became effective Jan. 1, by releasing video footage of six officer-involved shootings that occurred over the past three years.
We are including all six videos here and have watched them all so we can provide some context information in case you prefer not to watch.
On Jan. 16, 2015, Fremont police received a 911 call about a man brandishing a knife at located at Salt Lake Drive and Acacia Lake in the Lake Arrowhead neighborhood. It was reported the man walked by and pulled a knife on a Roto-Rooter-like vendor and chased him down. The caller continued to watch the man and told police he was walking toward an apartment building with what he described as a 6-inch blade.
The video depicts the scene as one officer located the suspect, identified as Zaki Shinwary, 48 of Hayward, near Sylvester P. Harvey Community Park. Two sergeants quickly arrived to help, one armed with a taser, according to later reports. When police arrived, Shinwary was on foot, crossing the street into the park. As the officer parks the vehicle, the suspect approaches quickly and goes to his jacket pocket to pull something out. The police yell to him to “stop right there” and tell him to show them his hand. It appears Shinwary struggled to get his hand out of pocket as he continues to approach police. Once out of sight from the dash cam, police are heard yelling, “Stop, stop!” Five shots are fired immediately after.
The video includes a photo of Shinwary after he was shot, with a knife in his hand.
Shinwary has a record of criminal, drug-related and mental instability incidents spanning over 20 years. In 1997, he was arrested for a stabbing. He was committed on a 5150 in 2007 for hallucinations. In 2010, he chased a roommate with a machete and in 2014, he threatened people with a metal rake.
This first question that comes to mind is why the officers needed to use bullets to stop a man with a knife who had a history of mental illness. NBC Bay Area noted in their report that a sergeant discharged his taser at the same time another officer fired his gun.
At the end of each video, a screen appears directing people to www.fremontpolice.org/transparency for further details about the shooting incident. That webpage apparently no longer exists.
On July 20, 2015, Fremont PD received a 911 call about a domestic disturbance on Baffin Avenue, where a woman reported her male roommate had threatened her, his wife and himself with a butcher knife. The caller clearly says, “[H]e was either gonna slice his throat, or he was going to stab me.”
Dash cam footage shows police arriving at the home and trying to address a woman walking in the yard just before a man, identified as Troy Francis, 54, comes down from the front porch with the long knife in his hand. Officers are heard telling him to “put the knife down” approximately four times as he continues walking quickly but awkwardly toward them with the weapon held up.
Four shots are then fired and the man falls to the ground. As he rolls around on the sidewalk where he was shot, officers continue yelling to him to “put the knife down, drop it.”
Francis was still alive when he was transported to a trauma center and Fremont PD claims that, in the ambulance, he acknowledged charging police with the knife. Francis told EMTs:
“Because I’m in pain. I want it to stop.”
Francis lived until Aug. 21, 2015, when he succumbed to his injuries and died in hospice release. The man’s wife later sued Fremont PD for shooting her husband while he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
Gerald Anthony Villabrille
A Fremont police officer attempted a traffic stop on June 1, 2016 at Fremont Boulevard and Irvington Avenue but the vehicle fled into a nearby Auto Zone parking lot. Officers had been briefed that morning to keep an eye out for white rental trucks that may had been stolen. The officer involved noticed a truck matching that description with the driver and two passengers inside.
The police dash cam video depicts the officer starting to follow the truck slowly and as he comes up behind the suspect vehicle, the truck weaves over to the left and makes a sharp left turn against a red light. With increasing speed, it pulls into the parking lot and behind the building, attempting to circle back around and ends up crashing into the front of the police car, nose to nose. You can see airbags deploy inside the truck and about 30 seconds of some movement inside before the driver’s side door opens.
The audio does not begin until well after the suspect door opens and suddenly officers are heard saying, “Stop moving, stop moving!” “Stop moving. Put your hands in the air!”
The visual quickly cuts to a witness’s cell phone video taken from a higher vantage point, where you can see the suspect had run to the rear of the truck after opening the door. It looks as though the passengers remained in the vehicle as an officer had his gun drawn on Villabrille, who was hopping back and forth between the rear of the truck and toward the driver’s door. He waves his arms up over his head and does not appear to have a weapon in his hands.
At that point, Villabrille can be heard saying, “You better kill me now, on camera – I ain’t got nothing,” and asking, “Why did you shoot me?” He points to the roof line on the building near the truck, suggesting there was a security camera there that captured the shooting.
“You shot me, bro. You fucking shot me!”
He pulls his shirt up and points to his stomach area before walking back to the door of the truck and leaning in. From inside the truck, Villabrille continues to ask, “Why’d you shoot me?”
“Oh my God, you fucking shot me.”
The video then shows Villabrille lift his hand through the crack at the door, shoot at the officer and it appears the officer goes down, although a black box is centered over his image at the point. Villabrille comes out with the gun, lays down on the ground and looks under the police vehicle before getting up and running away, with the gun still in his hand.
Another witness cell phone video records as Villabrille runs through the parking lot and out to the street but as police sirens come near, he’s forced back to the area where the truck is still located and tries briefly to hop a fence before pulling the whole fence panel down. He continues running and ends up in a nearby Safeway, hunching below isles and entering the storage area, still with the gun. He managed to escape from that scene but Villabrille was later found at home in Fremont and confronted by plain clothes detectives. Gunfire was again exchanged and one detective was shot in the chest. A 10-hour SWAT standoff ensued until the house went up in flames. Villabrille was later found deceased in the home caused by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Villabrille had a long record, including assault with a deadly weapon charges, resisting arrest and related firearms and weapons charges over the period from 1989 through through 2016 and Fremont PD claimed it “appeared” he had active warrants related to the last 2016 case.
Roger Anthony Perez
On April 9, 2017, East Bay Regional Park Police Officer Cardone was in the area of Fremont Boulevard and Decoto Road searching for a vehicle involved in a shooting and armed robbery an hour prior. A witness flagged the officer down and pointed to a vehicle at a 7-11, where he said the suspect was located who pulled a gun on him inside the store.
The suspect was identified as Roger Anthony Perez, 24, who was on parole for robbery at the time. Cardone stopped the vehicle with four occupants inside and requested emergency backup from Fremont PD. The body cam footage at first shows the officer calling the situation in and then suddenly yelling, “Get in the car, get in the car!” It appears the one suspect fled on foot as Cardone then steps out of the patrol car and draws his gun above the door at the remaining suspects, calling in the description as the one man who ran.
Responding officers get a tip from another witness who saw the suspect run toward the rear of a Walgreens and locate him on top of a U-Haul truck. A dash cam video focuses on the truck but in the dark of night and positioning of log coding on the video itself, it is difficult to see what happens when shots are suddenly fired. The video briefly shows Perez stand up, more shots are fired and it appears he drops onto the roof of the box truck.
A SWAT team surrounds the U-Haul and they pull in the assistance of a fire department drone and CHP helicopter to get a clear view of Perez lying on the truck’s cab. He was found deceased from a gunshot wound to the head, holding a gun in his hand. The coroner established that Perez shot himself and was not struck by the officers’ bullets.
A witness approached Fremont Police Officer Gourley about a man waving a pipe around and threatening people in a parking lot on May 29, 2017. The surveillance camera at the Lucky’s in the shopping center captured Rolonte Simril, 27, frantically waving an object around.
According to the dash cam footage, Gourley located Simril near in the parking lot of an Orchard Supply Hardware Store and immediately said, “Hey, drop it right now,” but Simril continues walking off screen and the officer gets out of his car, draws his gun and then appears to walk toward him but also goes off screen. Simril is then seen running back through the Mowry East Shopping Center in the opposite direction with an officer chasing behind. Both are again off screen but Fremont PD reports that a concerned citizen blocked Simril’s path – the suspect then turned and walked toward Gourley with the pipe and, according to text on the police video, the officer felt like his life was at risk and he discharged his gun three times.
The gunshots are audible but the shooting itself is not caught on camera.
A photo shown later in the video depicts Simril lying face down with a pipe tucked under his arm. Responding officers arrived at the scene, took what was later measured as a 16.5-inch pipe from Simril and administered medical assistance with a trauma kit kept in their patrol vehicles. He was treated for his injuries and later released.
It was later reported by SFGate that Gourley did not feel a taser would be effective with Simril wearing a backpack and thick coat.
Several officers from Special Operations and Patrol tried to stop a car containing a suspect with a felony warrant at Fremont Boulevard and Nicolet Avenue on April 5, 2018. Nathaniel Prasad, 18, had a criminal history that included battery on teacher, robbery, narcotics and firearms possession charges. He had evaded arrest the week prior after Fremont high school “disturbance.”
Prasad fled through the passenger door when officers stopped him and was followed by a patrol car to an area behind an Arco station. The video released is stitched together from dash cams, body cams and surveillance footage. He is seen running from the car in one dash cam and in another surveillance video, he is seen running, stopping, shooting a gun what looks to be twice and running out of the frame.
Another surveillance video captures him running between pumps at the Arco and out to the street and off screen; however, several officers and a K-9 swarm in behind him with their guns drawn. Another dash cam angle depicts Prasad running into the street with the several officers in toe and turning to shoot at the police. The officers returned fire immediately and Prasad dropped to the ground – police took several more shots at him.
Prasad was still alive when officers approached, took the revolver lying near him and administered medical treatment. Prasad was pronounced dead shortly after.
It was later reported by CBS that Prasad’s mother was driving the vehicle when they were stopped and her son fled.
Several cities continue to push back on California’s new transparency law, refusing to release information regarding past officer-involved shootings. Fremont PD released these videos Wednesday; however, they were accused of purging decades of police misconduct records just prior to the law taking effect.