Man killed by police was vet with history of mental illness

Photo courtesy: MGN online

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who was fatally shot by police in a videotaped encounter outside of a California convenience store was a Navy veteran with a history of drug use and mental illness who had been paroled from state prison a week before the shooting and was considered an absconder, according to his family and records released Monday.

Dillan Tabares, 27, was fatally shot Friday after a physical confrontation with a Huntington Beach police officer outside of a 7-Eleven.

Bystanders’ video clips posted on Facebook and Twitter show Tabares punching the officer before the two fall to the ground. Tabares grabs something from the officer’s belt before Tabares jumps to his feet and is shot.

Brandon Tabares said his brother’s life had unraveled into homelessness, drug use and mental illness after he failed a drug test and was discharged from the Navy five years ago.

Dillan Tabares had a series of arrests in California and was released on parole Sept. 14 after serving about 18 months for a felony battery conviction, according to state parole records.

He absconded and was marked as a “parolee-at-large” on Sept. 20 — two days before the shooting.

Tabares joined the Navy in 2008 and served as an Information technology systems technician aboard a guided-missile cruiser and amphibious assault ship before he was discharged in April 2012.

While he was serving in the military, he bought a house in Norfolk, Virginia, and got married. But after he failed the drug test — testing positive for marijuana — he was discharged, lost his home, and his wife filed for divorce, his brother said.

Tabares moved to California, spent time backpacking with his brother and started dating one of his brother’s friends. When they broke up, Dillan “didn’t brush himself off,” Brandon Tabares said.

Instead, he started living in a park behind the public library in Huntington Beach and was known among locals as “the kid who lived in the woods,” the brother said.

“He was always high on drugs — so high that he had become a drug-induced paranoid schizophrenic,” Brandon said of his brother.

His family repeatedly sought help for him and he was treated at psychiatric facilities.

Dillan Tabares also wrote several angry posts about police on Facebook, including one in 2015 that contended police officers were working with al-Qaeda as part of a sex trafficking ring.

“He had a distaste for police officers, no doubt about that, but not to the extent that he’d go out of his way to attack them,” Brandon said of his brother.

The video clips show the officer attempting to use a stun gun to subdue Tabares before he quickly rushes toward the officer. Tabares can be seen repeatedly punching the officer before the officer appears to get the man in a headlock and they wrestle to the ground.

Another video posted on Twitter shows Tabares grabbing an object from the officer’s belt as they struggled next to a parked car. The officer then pulls out his gun and backs away.

Another clip shows the man jumping to his feet and being shot almost immediately. Six rounds are fired before the officer calls out, “get on the ground.” After a short pause, a seventh gunshot is fired and the man stumbles backward and collapses against a wall.

Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy has said it was “clearly an assault on the officer,” who had the right to fatally shoot the man if he felt his life was in danger.

Tabares’ family members are sending a petition to the governor’s office asking for additional training for police officers to de-escalate violent situations with mentally ill people. His brother said he just wants to learn more about what led to the initial encounter.

“I would love nothing more than to know what happened before that video started,” he said.

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Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 .

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