SANTA MARIA - Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin says non-lethal force was used to try and subdue the suspect, Robert Guzman, in Sunday night's shooting on East Sunset Street but it didn't work.
The taser is one non-lethal option available to law enforcement when it encounters a threatening suspect like Santa Maria Police say Guzman was Sunday night after stabbing his wife and breaking into a neighbor's home by smashing the front window.
While not intended to replace an officer's gun, taser's can resolve a dangerous situation without deadly use of force.
Chief Martin says his officers tried to subdue Guzman with non-lethal stun-bags, or bean bags, fired from a shotgun but they didn't work.
Martin says Guzman continued to threaten five SMPD officers on-scene with a knife and another unidentified weapon when the two officers closest to him opened fire hitting Guzman several times.
"These are very quick decisions, they confronted a suspect in the garage area, and he is obviously bent on his violence", Martin says, "he'd already broken into another home, and so it was a very split-second decision and the officers felt compelled to open fire."
Law enforcement officers are carefully trained on how and when to use non-lethal or lethal use of force when confronted by a suspect holding any weapon.
With the officer having the right to protect himself, other officers or the public with the use of deadly force.
"The escalation can go from zero to ten very quickly", Chief Martin says, "in this case the attempt to use less than lethal force was deployed but it just didn't work for us."
The names of the two Santa Maria Police officers who fired their weapons, as well as their years of experience, have not been released.
Both officers have been placed on paid leave and will undergo mandatory counseling before being allowed to return to work.
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