Allentown officers cleared in shooting of machete-wielding man

DA says officers justified in fatal shooting of Saturnino Perez de la Rosa

Posted: 12:54 PM EDT Jun 28, 2013   Updated: 10:35 PM EDT Jun 28, 2013

Lehigh County's top cop calls it justified.

Earlier this year, Allentown Police officers shot and killed a man who was wielding a machete and moving towards them.

Despite the DA's ruling the man's family says police should not have opened fire.

Saturnino Perez De La Rosa died of multiple wounds after authorities say two police officers shot at him 13 times after he came at them with a machete.

De La Rosa's family admits he suffered from a mental illness and they feel police could have dealt with the situation differently.

With a machete in hand, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin described the scene on Oak Street on February 21st of this year.

"This is what he was swinging which was described by every officer at the scene who saw it as being wildly erratic," said Martin. "He was advancing towards the officers.”

Martin calls the officer-involved shooting justified meaning there will be no criminal charges.

"I believe that it's not justified," said Sasha Perez, De La Rosa's daughter. "Obviously it's justified for them because they are the police.  But for the family who has to suffer with his loss it's not justified."

The family of Saturnino Perez De La Rosa says he had a history of mental illness and they say the Allentown Police Department knew that.

So did a police force in Norwalk, Connecticut.

"They just knew how to deal with him and they subdued him," added Perez. "They broke his arm and all that stuff but they still didn't kill him.  They knew that he was sick, they knew that he needed help."

The investigation by Martin shows Allentown Police tried to get De La Rosa help one day prior to the shooting.

But Martin says De La Rosa's girlfriend declined the offer for medical treatment.

“If a family member had requested it and he had volunteered to go along with them that would have been a requirement," said Martin. "They weren’t going to just take him into custody and transport him to a hospital.”

Martin says a lawsuit may be a reasonable possibility in this case even though nothing has been filed yet.

"Me, my family, my lawyer we don't agree with it being justified," said Perez.

The family of Saturnino De La Rosa says he was on medication in Connecticut.

They are not sure why he didn't seek treatment in Allentown.