A Cathedral City man staged a suicide by cop scenario on Monday night by pointing a fake gun at officers and forcing one to shoot the man, according to police.
Authorities have released the original 911 call that started it all, and investigators said the caller was the same person officers gunned down.
Christopher Mendoza, 27, wanted to die, authorities said. But it still unclear why.
This call was made just before 9 p.m. on Monday.
The caller identified himself as a concerned family member.
He said the person walking down Paletero Road armed with a gun was a distraught relative.
But in reality, authorities confirm that the caller was actually Mendoza — the man officers eventually sent to the hospital with gunshot wounds to his body.
“It goes back to the issue of creating circumstances to bring the police officers to him in which he could fulfill his desire — a suicide by cop situation,” said Lt. Chuck Robinson, with the Cathedral City Police Department.
“He said all of the right buzz words to put the officers on a high level (of) awareness when they arrived,” said Robinson.
Dispatch: “How do you know he had a gun?” Caller: “Uh, he just told me he did. He kind of showed me the handle of it.”
Mendoza proceeded to give the dispatcher a description of himself.
Dispatch: “What color shirt and pants was he wearing the last time you saw him?” Caller: “He was just wearing black.” Dispatch: “All black clothing?” Caller: “Yeah.”
Earlier during the call, the dispatcher asked for the name of the person officers were searching for. He said, “Christopher Mendoza.”
Mendoza then dodged revealing his identity at the tail end of the call.
Dispatch: “What’s your name?” Caller: “I’m standing outside right now looking for him. I do not know which way he went.” Dispatch: “Humm, you think he’s suicidal or anything just?” Caller: “Well, he said goodbye to everybody and then… (inaudible).”
The phone call ended.
Dispatcher: “Ok. We’ll check the area for him.” Caller: “Thank you.”
Moments later, officers approached Mendoza.
Authorities say Mendoza then revealed a gun.
He was shot — the officers were not.
But it turned out that Mendoza’s gun was a fake.
“He essentially set up the situation and it’s very unfortunate because everybody suffers,” said Robinson.
The officer involved has been put on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
He has 17 years of experience.
Mendoza is in stable but critical condition, authorities said.