Relatives of a man killed by police outside an Anaheim apartment said Tuesday that he was not a threat to police officers and that two shotgun blasts police fired barely missed two young children inside the home.
Authorities were called to a four-plex near Park Lane and Wallgreen Street early Monday morning after Joe Whitehouse, 30, threatened his brother with a knife. Whitehouse's sister said he had been drinking and taking methamphetamines.
Relatives said that before police fired on him, Whitehouse had broken off the knife's blade, rendering it harmless.
"It was a wrongful death," said Chris Whitehouse, 28, Joe's brother. "The officers never attempted to Mace him or Taser him. Shooting should be the very last line of defense."
Police have not yet released details on the shooting because it is under investigation. The two officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard procedure, said Sgt. Rick Martinez, spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department.
Martinez confirmed that two officers, one armed with a handgun and the other with a shotgun, each shot Whitehouse at least once on the patio outside his brother's apartment, but would not say whether Whitehouse had threatened the officers.
Martinez said the officers were told that the suspect was "high on drugs" and armed with a "butcher knife." The shotgun and handgun were "the type of weapons they needed."
Relatives said two officers, one with a shotgun, fired at least eight times at Whitehouse.
Chris Whitehouse, the brother who was being threatened by his brother, said two shotgun blasts left holes in the wall inches from where his 7-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son were hiding under a blanket.
Ana Cline, 16, Joe Whitehouse's niece, said that before the shooting, she and her boyfriend saw Whitehouse jabbing the door with the point of the butcher knife, but that before the police approached the door, the blade snapped off.
Martinez said police recovered a butcher knife at the scene but did not say whether it was intact.
Ana, who said she was standing behind the officers when they fired from a distance of 10 to 20 feet, said her uncle never charged or threatened police.
Corie Cline, 31, Joe Whitehouse's sister, said that on Sunday night and early Monday morning he celebrated the end of his probation for what she said was a weapons possession charge.
She said alcohol and methamphetamines had caused her normally mellow brother to become aggressive.
Chris Whitehouse said he had been in a scuffle with his brother whom he described as "drunk and belligerent," about 15 minutes before police arrived.
Joe Whitehouse, who lived across the street with their mother, then threatened to come back with a weapon. Chris Whitehouse said he locked the door and called police. A few minutes later, Chris Whitehouse said, his brother returned with the butcher knife.