12/01/2005

Drug agent says he was sure fleeing Calif. man had a gun

Diana Walsh, Chronicle Staff Writer

Copyright 2005 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
All Rights Reserved
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

A state narcotics agent on trial for voluntary manslaughter in a case of mistaken identity testified Tuesday that he is certain he saw a gun in the hands of a man he fatally shot in the back.

Agent Mike Walker said he was sure that Rudy Cardenas, who was fleeing down an alley, turned toward him and pointed a gun.

"When he turned back, I had no doubt that he had a gun and that it was pointed at me and I was going to be shot,'' Walker testified in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose.

Investigators never found a gun on Cardenas, and Walker was later charged in his death. Walker, 34, has pleaded not guilty.

Walker, the first state narcotics agent to stand trial for killing someone in the line of duty, has spent four days on the stand explaining what led to the shooting on Feb. 17, 2004.

The agent mistakenly identified the 43-year-old Cardenas as a parole violator. He has testified that Cardenas, who tests later indicated was under the influence of methamphetamines, behaved erratically during a pursuit.

Walker testified that even as he ran away, Cardenas kept his hands near his waistline -- leading the agent to conclude that he was probably carrying a weapon.

During a cross examination with prosecutor Lane Liroff, Walker denied that he told police officers after the shooting that he "thought" he saw a gun. "I was positive it was a gun and I thought I was going to be shot,'' he said.

Liroff said Walker was wearing a bulletproof vest and, that if he felt threatened, could have easily avoided Cardenas' aim by taking just one step, which would have placed him safely behind a large wall. Liroff said away from the jury that he plans to call a witness as early as today who will contradict Walker. Sherrie Green is expected to testify that Cardenas was pumping his arms as he ran and was not holding his hands near his waist belt as Walker has said. 
 
November 30, 2005

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