Tacoma police looking for witnesses to June officer-involved shooting of panhandler

Staff writerJuly 18, 2013 

Tacoma police are looking for witnesses to a June 29 incident in which an officer shot a panhandler at East 28th Street and East Portland Avenue, spokeswoman Loretta Cool said Thursday.

Police said officer Michel Volk, a six-year veteran of the department, shot 53-year-old Cesar Beltran after he allegedly attacked her with a pipe-like object when she asked him to move from the intersection.

Officers said Volk first used a stun gun to try to subdue Beltran, but she fired when he continued his attack. She was treated for minor injuries, Cool said.

As of last week, Beltran’s health was improving each day from non-life-threatening wounds, Cool said. His daughter, Bianca Beltran of Tacoma, confirmed that Thursday.

She said her father remains hospitalized at Tacoma General and will need long-term treatment as a result of bullet wounds to his arms, stomach, chest and the side of his torso.

She said her father’s account of June 29 is that he was asking someone for a quarter to put air in the tires of his bike at the gas station at the intersection.

Her dad, about 150 pounds and 5 feet 9, lives with her brother, one of his five children, she said.

“He has a home, he has a family, he has a place to live,” Bianca Beltran said. “He just is an eccentric person. He decides to look a certain way, dress a certain way and live his life a certain way due to his mental illness.”

Volk completed department requirements to return to work, and was back on the job Tuesday, Cool said. Officers are placed on administrative leave when they fire their weapons, as part of department policy.

The investigation into the shooting is continuing.

Several witnesses have not been identified, and police especially want to speak with the occupants of three vehicles near the scene. Police are looking for people who were in a blue minivan, a red SUV or a black Jeep near the intersection about 3:15 p.m. that day, Cool said.

All witnesses are asked to contact the police department at 253-591-5968.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268




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