A story for every victim

Gerardo Martin Vasquez, 52

Gerardo Martin Vasquez, a 52-year-old Latino, was shot and killed by California Highway Patrol officers on Monday, Feb. 6, in the 3300 block of Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s records. 

CHP officers were called to the eastbound 10 Freeway near the Centinela Avenue exit about 12:20 a.m. regarding a man running on the freeway, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza. 

The officers spotted a man -- later identified as Vasquez -- running near the center divider with a knife in his hand, Mendoza said. “It was like a folding knife in an open position, so all you could see was the blade,” he said.

The CHP halted traffic on the freeway, and Vasquez ran onto the embankment to Pico Boulevard, returned to the freeway and then ran back up on Pico to a walkway between two commercial buildings.

Investigators believe Vasquez tried to provoke the officers into shooting him to commit "suicide by cop," Mendoza said. 

“He started running directly toward the CHP officers with the knife in his hands, and that was when the officer-involved shooting occurred,” Mendoza said. 

Three officers fired at Vasquez, who fell on his side and allegedly began cursing and taunting the officers, Mendoza said. “He said something like, ‘Is that all you’ve got?’ and then raised the knife over his shoulder into a throwing motion, and that’s when the second shooting occurred.”

Vasquez was able to throw his knife before all three officers fired again, but the knife didn’t hit anyone, Mendoza said. 

One of the officers also fired bean bag rounds at Vasquez, Mendoza said. 

Vasquez, who had multiple gunshot wounds, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:16 a.m., according to coroner’s records. 

Investigators later learned that Vasquez was being sought by Simi Valley police for the stabbing of his roommate on Feb. 3 in their apartment in the 200 block of Ulysses Street.

The roommate, a 32-year-old man, was taken to the hospital in critical condition with stab wounds to the torso. 

Vasquez eluded authorities until he was spotted running on the freeway three nights later, about 43 miles south of where his roommate was stabbed. 

The Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau is investigating the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.  

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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