Sheriff Deputy Who Killed 61-Year-Old Woman: ‘Fuck, We’re Gonna Have to Shoot Her’

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.

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

17 Comments

  1. Josh GJ on the explicitness! Can I use them in quotes now? (Just being playful man)

    In all honesty I used to think that officers had this batman utility belt of non lethal alternatives available to them. Then I saw the video below. The sad truth is even with 15′ to 20′ of distance, an attacker can cover that in seconds. Even an untrained attacker can just wildly slash cut and stab, leaving an officer dead or disabled. I believe these officers did not want to shoot this woman, and I’m glad we employ non-gun happy officers.

    This video is very eye opening, and illustrates just how dangerous a thing these interactions can be.

  2. This is just one of many similar instances. The officers may or may not have acted reasonably in this case, but in many others they clearly don’t. If a family member is having mental health issues, don’t call the police, unless you’re prepared for them to die. Police aren’t properly trained in dealing with people with mental illness.

    • There is a police code known as 5150, “A danger to self and others” which she was CLEARLY a danger to her husband with the attempted stabbing. Most of the recent incidents I’ve known about, there’s been a knife, or the SJSU case where the guy had a drywall saw.

      The call came to the 911 operating center. Who dispatched the officers? They didn’t dispatch themselves. If it’s a mental health issue, who should 911 call? Should it be a policy 911 calls them?

      You can’t fault these officers for their training when dispatch had alternatives. Their training is the way it is because a person with a knife standing 20 feet away could potentially cover that distance in 1.5 seconds and kill them. Watch the video I posted above to see just how quickly a person with a knife can make an officers day bad.

      • 5150 is not a “police code.” It is the section number of the California Welfare and Institutions Code that allows for a 72 hour hold in an appropriate psychiatric facility of a person found to be a danger to self or others as a result of a mental health disorder. Section 5250 allows for a 14 day hold. These sections are primary operational sections of the entire reordering of mental health regulation co-authored by State Assemblyman Lanterman, and State Senators Petris and Short. It was signed into law by Governor Regan in 1967. I believe it was the first such law in the USA. The prime purpose of LPS was “To end the inappropriate, indefinite, and involuntary commitment of mentally disordered persons…” Sadly, like many well-intentioned laws, the pendulum has swung too far, allowing thousands of people who should be institutionalized long term to roam the streets. Dozens of such folks can be found roaming downtown SJ daily. The three lethal shootings described by Josh were the inevitable result of the bias against long term institutionalization of severely mentally disabled persons built into the LPS Act. Severely mentally disordered people are routinely released with medication, which they routinely stop taking once they are out of a controlled environment. There is judicial review of commitments, and thanks to the ACLU and other well meaning but misguided folks, the “rights” of total whack jobs are now superior to public safety in the eyes of the law. When law enforcement personnel are confronted by people such as the ones described by Josh the danger to the officers and the public escalates with lightning speed. Then the officers are routinely subjected to the Monday morning carping of distraught relatives and self-proclaimed experts like Silicon Valley De-Bug. As a result of LPS, and sometimes budget considerations, available beds for long term treatment are completely insufficient for the number of folks who need long term, in-patient mental health care. In my opinion, LPS needs a significant overhaul to give public safety a higher priority, and the money needs to be appropriated to provide for long term commitment for the severely mentally disabled. If the law imposed personal liability on shrinks who recommended the release of potentially violent whack jobs, I guarantee you that significantly fewer of them would be on the streets, and confrontations like the three described above would be few and far between.

    • Mr. Angry Glove,

      Out of curiosity, have you ever participated in any force simulation training? Have you ever attempted to rationalize and deescalate a tense situation with someone who is both mentally ill and on drugs? Do you enjoy coming home to your family and friends?

      Just curious.. I can promise you each of those officers, and 99.9% of the officers in California can say yes to all three.

    • Glove,
      Just out of curiosity who would you call these days if a crazy, drug sucking, knife wielding, psychopath show up on your door step?

      911 brings the cops and firemen first, as in first responder’s.

      Even the men in white coats are going to call 911 if Hannibal Lector show up.

    • “If a family member is having mental health issues, don’t call the police, unless you’re prepared for them to die. Police aren’t properly trained in dealing with people with mental illness.”

      Well, that sure was a statement of ignorance. If no one calls the police, just who do you think is going to handle that mental, out of control person? The family? You? What if families don’t call the police and that person wielding that knife or gun goes on to shoot or cut up the family, or a child riding their bike down the street? Who is going to approach that person and take away their gun or knife? You? Bet you wouldn’t. Unless you have been there, stop talking out of your rear end. You obviously have no idea of the danger involved in these situations.

      • Law enforcement organizations endorsed Sen Beall’s bill on mental health training. Even they know they aren’t properly trained.

  3. VOLTAIRE’S ANGRY GLOVE revealed so many false assumptions in so few words.

    The first false assumption is that an undesirable outcome constitutes definitive evidence of incompetence. Were this true, every emergency room death due to gunshot wound would be assumed the fault of the hospital staff; an absurdity, of course, but recognizable as such only because we’ve come to accept that bullets sometimes cause a level of internal havoc that overwhelms the lifesaving skills of even the finest ER staffs. However, when it comes to cops resorting to deadly force when trying to control the mentally ill, the public has been conditioned (by lawyers, activists, and the media) to view every undesirable outcome as evidence of police incompetence; this despite the fact that the internal havoc caused by mental illness regularly overwhelms the skills of even the most highly-trained mental health professionals (who regularly rely on gang-tackling, piling on, strapping down, and/or chemically sedating the UNARMED lunatics in their charge). In dealing with the mentally ill, undesirable consequences are commonplace and come in degrees of severity, only one of which ever draws unfair criticism.

    The second false assumption is that there exists a foolproof method for dealing with lunatics, that things like training, patience, or a gentle approach — all of which can have value in most cases, provide any guarantees. No one, no Ph.D, friend, family member, or even seasoned crisis negotiator can ever legitimately claim anything better than a good chance of success in assessing, controlling, or predicting the behavior of a dangerously insane person. Sure, training, experience, and personal aptitude have value, but they guarantee only better odds for success, not success itself. For evidence of this look no further than the local emergency psych unit, a county run facility from which a number of patients have, minutes after being released as no longer dangerous to themselves or others, jumped to their deaths from the nearest overpass, assaulted the nearest citizen, or engaged in some other form of dangerous, crazed behavior.

    The final assumption is that the problem is the result of turning to the police for help, the implication being that there exists, now or in theory, some other collection of professionals willing and able to respond to an uncontrolled environment in which a chaotic, dangerous situation is occurring, and then effectively unravel the chaos, take control of the environment, isolate and contain the dangerous element, and, by employing the requisite physical courage, interpersonal skills, teamwork, and professional training, guarantee that, one way or the other, order will be restored. But there is no such collection of other professionals, nor will there ever be one for one simple reason: the unpredictable nature of each and every component of these situations requires the unique capabilities of police officers. Remember, we are talking about situations occurring outside of institutional walls, situations in which the insane person is in all ways unrestrained and representative of an unpredictable and unacceptable threat to innocent others. These situations can go sour in an instant, can have grave consequences, and are demanding of the particular skill set possessed only by police officers. The last time (of which I’m aware) that SJPD (via a fed grant) tried to hire trained psychologists to respond as crisis experts resulted in an applicant pool filled with “professionals” made desperate for work by their history of incompetence, unreliability, and mental instability. Not a one was even considered and the lesson learned was that competent psychologists know the difference between the demands of their profession and those of police work.

    • Very Good response, Finfan! Way to rationalise everything. Too bad politicians and media types all run counter to your logical thinking.

  4. Many people throughout this country address the officer involved events reported by the media from the comfort and safety of their home as they cirque the officer’s actions. They have the benefit of time and distance to render their conclusions that the officer acted wrongfully and should have done this or that. Now mind you, they usually don’t have all the facts, particularly what took placed before the iPhone started recording, but never mind that, they just know the officer is wrong. Never having been involved in anything dangerous with a human being, they try to project courage, knowledge, and superiority. This rush to indictment mentality serves no one. A minority of officers in this country make mistakes, make bad judgements, and may not be fit for the job; but the majority of officers do an excellent job under difficult circumstances. Most of the good work they do, the life they lose, or the injuries they incur are rarely told. Officer Johnson was killed by an emotionally disturbed person. Many officers are killed by the mentally ill or injured to some degree. You just never know how a stable or unstable person will react when confronted by the police. Because the public won’t protect them they live by a code, “I watch your back, you watch mine.” God bless our men and women in blue.

  5. VOLTAIRE’S ANGRY GLOVE : “Law enforcement organizations endorsed Sen Beall’s bill on mental health training. Even they know they aren’t properly trained.”

    Police employee groups are seldom opposed to increased training, something consistent with the desire of their memberships to achieve the highest possible levels of proficiency and professionalism. Municipalities and counties, on the other hand, are generally opposed to any training for which they must foot the bill (which is why so much of what is now considered the most basic of police training came into existence only after employers were sued by employee groups). Mr. Beall’s bill, which places a ridiculous emphasis on stigma training, will be paid out of the state budget (which will allow the City of San Jose to recover an additional million plus budgeted salary dollars from the state). For the chance to save a few extra bucks to funnel to supporters, local politicians would agree to training our cops to tie balloon animals.

    To assume the training to be provided by Mr. Beall’s legislation will transform officers from inadequately trained to “properly trained” is the mark of an ignorant and inexperienced mind. Most police officers already have extensive training in dealing with the insane, training that consists of an hour or two of classroom lecture and hundreds or thousands of on the job interactions with people who are not only mentally ill, but mentally ill and in a state in which they are dangerous to themselves or others. No other profession — certainly not psychologists working out of their offices, can match the hard-earned expertise that the average beat cop brings to an uncontrolled crisis situation. Statistically speaking, police officers already have an outstanding record of success in corralling and containing these people, killing far fewer of them annually than they murder themselves or others.

    Given what is expected of this wondrous new training scheme, namely that cops will somehow learn not to shoot when a lunatic charges them with a knife, from where comes the justification? Certainly not from any record of achievement in the mental health profession. Oh, I’m sure police agencies will be able to dig up enough underemployed psychologists and blowhard ex-cops turned consultants to put something together, but these programs have come up before and, predictably, come up short of expectations (anyone remember self-esteem?). Money better spent would be to educate the public to be reasonable in its expectations of police officers; if it’s miracles they demand, then convince them to return their gaze to god and leave reality in the hands of realists.

  6. OK, OK, I get it, I wasn’t there. I cannot comment because…well……I wasn’t there. Cops have taken a hit across the nation for using excessive force and restraint recently. I for one thank them for the job they do and that they are there. But in this instance a taser couldn’t have been used? Mace, couldn’t have been used? A shot into a kneecap couldn’t have been used. According to the article, the cops knew who they were dealing with and there was no other alternative but to be judge, jury and executioner? I’m sorry for the office that now has to live her life wondering if she could have done something different. But…….a human being lies dead because of her decisions.

  7. Every alternative I can think of pepper spray, mace, tasers, handcuffs, plastic restraints, batons, choke hold,
    marshal arts has lead to a person, (I’ll be nice) or an officer getting killed because of some unexpected reaction by said person. Under powered or overpowered one of these devices failing to work correctly, I’ve heard them all.

    Attorneys rush in to make sure everyone in town gets sued and said devise is never used again in our wonderful city.

    Of coarse we then lament that there should be some other way to arrest the “Gentile Giant” “knife wielding bundle of love” hopped up on…. (fill in the blank here) that just blew through two 250 lbs cops, and a K9 and is coming after the 110 lbs female rookies that’s about to get splattered all over some back ally wall, 37- 9mm rounds later police are always the bad guys.

    Do cops ever get it wrong? Yes, and that’s why we have investigation that know one likes the result, of and sometimes they go to jail even when they shouldn’t.

  8. They forgot to mention that officers shot her dead within 40 seconds of arriving at the scene. Funny how they can make it sound like all three cops were chased by this woman and had time to hide behind cars , discuss shooting her, clear the crossfire, and evaluate her mental state . All the while shouting for her to drop a knife that they didnt even see at first ….plus fire three shots from within three feet of her that left no soot or residue and despite aiming tor her torso, struck her in the face, chest and lower abdomin.. a lot of activity in 40 seconds. And a really bad aim

    • See the video at the top, you can kill a lot of people with a knife in 40 seconds!