Fremont (Calif.) Police Officer Todd Young. Photo: FPD
Like many cops, it wasn't unusual for Fremont, Calif., police officer Todd Young to put in more than an eight-hour work day. August 27, 2010, was no exception. Having already assisted in the service of several DEA warrants that morning in Oakland, Todd and his partner, Eric Tang, decided to lag behind the rest of their task force awhile before heading for the barn.
They did so in hopes of locating a wanted Union City gang member whose ex-girlfriend had said that he'd been hanging out in the area.
Parking on Aueson Street a few doors down from the possible location, they settled into surveillance mode. Their game plan was to get a set of eyes on the perp and then notify Oakland officers and let them take him down. Their vigil lasted until 2:30 in the afternoon when they observed a trio of males congregating around a Chevy Avalanche. The young men's attire—thick clothing and hoodies—stood out on the warm summer day. One of the three closely approximated the description of their quarry: a fat 21-year-old named Andrew Barrientos.
In hopes of getting a marked patrol unit there as soon as possible, Tang rang the Oakland police on his cell phone. But when the males started to open the doors of the Avalanche, both officers realized that their window of opportunity to take down Barrientos, a man who'd reportedly threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and their six-month-old baby, was closing. That, coupled with the fact that Barrientos was already wanted on a high-speed pursuit warrant, was enough to force their hand: They would try to take him down themselves.
The Fremont officers' hopes hung on whatever element of surprise their unmarked car afforded them on their approach. But as they slowed for a speed bump, Barrientos turned toward them. They might not have been wearing police uniforms, but for Barrientos the sight of a male white and a male Asian was enough—the fat man bolted as fast as his unconditioned legs would allow.
As Barrientos ran down the sidewalk, Young pulled abreast of him. He pulled the car over, told Tang to watch the other gang members, and jumped out. Young then whipped his neck chain badge from the inside collar of his shirt and yelled, "Police! Police!"
Young's commanded Barrientos to stop. Barrientos kept running. Young knew it was up to him to take the suspect down physically. He rapidly closed the distance.
As both Young and Barrientos neared a street corner, Young mentally prepared himself to shove Barrientos onto his ass before the man could get around the corner. Young hoped this would keep him in eyeline of his partner and prevent Barrientos from carjacking someone or taking a hostage.