San Diego police Saturday identified the officer who shot and killed a man suspected of attacking another man in Southcrest and advancing on officers with a weapon.
Officer Corey Pitts, a two-year veteran with the San Diego Police Department, fired at least one shot at Vaughn Harrison Denham, 48, when he would not comply with officers' demand to drop his weapons, the department said.
The shooting took place around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday when police responded to a call of a man attacking another man a machete in the intersection of Boston Avenue and 40th Street, police said.
Police found Denham with the machete and a three to four-foot metal chain, on the 1100 block of 40th Street, SDPD said. Denham refused officers' orders to drop his weapons and began swinging the chain at them.
An officer first shot the suspect with a Taser but it was ineffective. That was when Pitts fired his weapon.
Police say there was an ensuing struggle with Denham after he was shot but he was eventually taken into custody.
Denham was transported to UCSD Medical Center where he died around 9:30 p.m.
The machete attack victim was also taken to UCSD Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.
Denham’s family released a statement Friday asking for police officials to meet with them and show them footage of the incident so that they could “understand the full picture of what transpired.”
The release said they want their questions answered and the names of the officers involved released to the public.
Family, friends and community members gathered in Southcrest on Friday near the location Denham was shot for a vigil. There, Denham’s niece, Voneva Denham, claimed her uncle was murdered.
“We’re here today to pay respect to my uncle who was murdered and to request that we are able to see the footage of the police officer who shot him and also any footage they have of things leading up to his death,” she said.
SDPD Lt. Matt Dobbs said Friday the department has been in contact with Denham’s family privately. Voneva Denham confirmed that police officials reached out to the family and agreed to show them body-worn camera footage, but no meeting was scheduled.
Denham's sister who lives in Texas told NBC 7 the altercation between Denham and the other man started because the other man was talking about child molestation. She also said that Denham was on drugs at the time of his death.
Charity Apostolic Church Bishop Cornelius Bowser was at the vigil Friday and called for policy change that will strengthen trust between the community and police departments.
"When are we going to move from justifiable homicide to avoidable homicide? Those are the thoughts that come to mind," he said. "When are we going to get to a place where we learn to de-escalate?"