Shortly after Rick and Lynne Faust found out their son Jacob, 25, had been shot and killed by a San Diego police officer on April 4, reporters and TV news crews were at their door. But on May 23, when the Fausts filed complaints with the police department's internal-affairs division and with the city's Citizen's Review Board on Police Practices (CRB), despite a press release, not a single camera was there.
The complaints argue that the shooting was unjustified; the Fausts also demand that police return items belonging to Jacob that his family believes the police still have: the clothes he was wearing when he was shot, his wallet and a satchel containing his writings and sketches.
Jacob Faust was pulled over by a police officer around 1:45 a.m. on April 4 after he reportedly made an illegal left turn onto Fourth Avenue from Broadway. He stopped his black Mazda MPV van in front of the Golden West Hotel near Horton Plaza.
After running Jacob's license, the officer returned to the van to tell the young man that they'd have to impound his car-he was driving on a suspended license, the result of a DUI arrest in February. Jacob had pleaded not guilty to that charge in misdemeanor court and had also filed a complaint with the police department. His parents aren't clear on the details of the complaint; police denied CityBeat's request for a copy.
Police say Jacob refused to get out of the van. A second officer, 11-year veteran Stephen Holliday, arrived on scene and with his flashlight spotted a gun sticking out of the back pocket of the passenger seat. He alerted the other officer who asked Jacob to get out of the car; when Jacob refused, the officer doused him with pepper spray.
Capt. Jim McGinley told CityBeat that Holliday saw Jacob reach for the gun with his right hand and bring his arm over the top of the passenger seat. At that point, Holliday, standing to the left and just behind Jacob, fired three rounds. One bullet struck Jacob in the neck, a second pierced the top of his arm and a third hit him the back, striking a pulmonary artery. An autopsy report found that the first two bullets were traveling left to right but the third, lethal bullet was traveling right to left and at a slightly upward angle, a direction that doesn't jibe with the police version of events, the Fausts say. In the complaint, they contend that their son was shot as he was being pulled from the van. McGinley says detectives found the gun behind the passenger seat.
The gun, it ends up, was a toy used as a stage prop. Jacob, a musician and actor, staged plays and was finishing a feature-length film shortly before his death. The Fausts told CityBeat that detectives who came to their home on April 4 said nothing about Jacob reaching for a gun-rather, Jacob made a "sudden move," they were told, prompting Holliday to shoot.
The complaint also alleges that the photograph shown to Rick Faust to identify his son was taken at the scene, before paramedics arrived. Rick said the photo coroner's investigator Michael Ellano asked him to look at shows his son with his teeth clenched and his head twisted at an odd angle. The paramedics' report states that they put a cervical collar on Jacob to stabilize his neck and describes the young man as having clenched teeth when they arrived on-scene.
Ellano told CityBeat Monday that the photo he showed Rick was taken at the hospital three hours after Jacob had been pronounced dead. In it, Jacob is on a backboard with a tube in his nose and still wearing the cervical collar. Rick says he doesn't recall seeing those things in the photo.
Scott Fulkerson, who heads the Citizen's Review Board on Police Practices, met with the Fausts when they filed their complaint. The CRB's job is to review the police department's investigation into officer-involved shootings and either agree or disagree with findings. A March 2003 court ruling bars the CRB from making public the reason for their conclusion. The Fausts say they plan to hire a private attorney to fully review the shooting.For an in-depth story on Jacob Faust's shooting, please see CityBeat's May 18 cover story.