SAN JOSE -- A San Jose police officer was legally justified when he shot and killed a nine-time felon who stabbed three people and carjacked a minivan in a drug-fueled rampage last Thanksgiving, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office concluded in a report released Monday.
The suspect, 42-year-old Albert Manuel Vasquez, was high on PCP and meth during the violent spree that also entailed a wrong-way freeway and city-street chase, according to autopsy details included in the report.
At the time of his death, Vasquez was on probation after repeatedly violating the conditions of his early supervised release under the state's realignment plan aimed at relieving prison overcrowding.
Authorities listed nine convictions covering drug offenses, robbery and assault dating back to 1990, the first of which involved him trying to take a police officer's gun while high on PCP.
One detail that had not been public until the report was released is Vasquez reportedly brandished a knife after the minivan he stole was cornered by Officer Kevin Peters in a cul-de-sac off Mabury Road, near White Road.
The report states Vasquez's apparent refusal to drop the weapon, after ramming Peters' patrol car, spurred the officer's decision to open fire.
"The shooting was justified in order to protect Officer Peters, other officers and members of the general public by preventing Vasquez from escaping," the report states.
The violent episode began the morning of Nov. 28 when Vasquez, who had been staying at an apartment off Alexian Drive in East San Jose, entered an upstairs bedroom and, without provocation, stabbed the man and woman also living there, the report stated.
Vasquez then got into a struggle with a man visiting the apartment and wounded him, too.
All three stabbing victims ended up at Regional Medical Center, which is a block away, with the first and most seriously injured victim walking himself into the emergency room.
After the stabbings, Vasquez ran toward Jackson Avenue and yanked a man from a parked minivan, threatening him with a knife, and stole the vehicle.
Peters was on patrol when dispatchers connected the stabbings and carjacking. The officer soon spotted the stolen minivan.
That led to a chase that, for a moment, saw the minivan go the wrong way on Interstate 680 and then barrel down Mabury Road at freeway speeds, sideswiping a car.
Vasquez unwittingly hit a dead end when he turned left on Kirk Glen Drive, a cul-de-sac where residents were hanging Christmas decorations on their homes.
Boxed in, Vasquez tried to ram Peters' patrol car with the minivan, to no avail, authorities said.
Peters, who was the lone officer at the scene, told investigators Vasquez's blank stare suggested PCP use, that the suspect was still holding a knife and appeared to be trying to get out of the vehicle.
When Vasquez did not respond to Peters' commands to drop the knife, which several witnesses affirmed, the officer fired three shots, then five more.
Vasquez was later pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy would show he was hit seven times.
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.