Officers avoid police shooting while confronting mentally-ill man with knife

Man was patient at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital

Officer talks mentally ill patient...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara police officers came close to being involved in a shooting Tuesday morning after Cottage Hospital staff reported a mentally-ill man who walked away from the premises.

Santa Barbara Cottage hospital contacted police at 10:24 a.m. to report the incident and identified the patient as 20-year-old Francisco Zarate.

When officers arrived, a family member led police to Zarate's apartment near the hospital.

"Officer Tonello followed the family member into the apartment when he was suddenly confronted by Zarate who picked up a large, deadly 14 [inch] fixed blade knife and pointed it at Officer Tonello," said the Santa Barbara Police Department in a statement.

The statement continued, "Officer Tonello quickly drew his service weapon from a short distance away from Zarate while simultaneously attempting to move Zarate’s family member out of harm’s way -- all well authoritatively commanding Zarate to drop the weapon. Zarate begrudgingly dropped the knife and surrendered to the Officer’s commands."

The 20-year-old Santa Barbara resident was arrested for brandishing a deadly weapon at an officer and will be evaluated and treated by mental health professionals at Santa Barbara County Jail, according to the police department.

"Exemplary work from Officer Tonello by demonstrating restraint and resolving this highly volatile, uncertain and rapidly unfolding situation. Officer Tonello’s quick thinking and de-escalation avoided what was otherwise a likely deadly force scenario thrust upon the Officer," said the police department's statement.

Listen to audio from the tense situation below provided by the Santa Barbara Police Department.

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