Rocendo Arias was fatally shot in the head by Police Officer Casey Gilette at a do-it-yourself car wash parking lot in Yakima, Wash. on Jan 4.
Officer Gilette noticed that Arias had been sitting in a car for over an hour, which is not a crime, but the police officer decided to investigate (video below).
"[Officer Gilette] approached on foot on the driver's side, moved around the vehicle to the passenger side of the vehicle," Captain Rod Light, of the Yakima Police Department, told KNDO. "Opened the door, discovered the suspect was armed with a handgun."
However, it wasn't actually a handgun.
In reality, Arias was holding a disassembled Airsoft gun, which shoes soft plastic pellets, that he was trying to put together.
In response, Officer Gilette shot four times, hitting Arias once in the head and fatally wounding him.
"It was later determined that the handgun was a replica of an actual firearm so what I would refer to as an Airsoft gun, but they appear very real," added Captain Light.
Airsoft guns usually have an orange tip at the end of the barrel, which Captain Light. confirmed.
“I believe this particular handgun had an orange tip," added Captain Light. "But based on our investigation I don’t want to go into particulars and details of the position of the gun and where the officer was. It was 3 a.m., it was dark and again we haven’t interviewed this officer yet and we don’t want to speculate."
Officer Gilette is on administrative leave during the investigation of the fatal shooting, but has the support of his boss.
“Based on the preliminary investigation, I absolutely stand behind the officer and his actions in the shooting that occurred,” Yakima Police Chief Dominic Rizzi told the Yakima Herald.