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Police shoot 'hero' after he disarms gunman, is mistaken for suspect, lawyer says

K’aun Green, 20, was shot after an argument escalated into a fight at a restaurant in San Jose, California.

A former high school football champion whose lawyer said he disarmed a gunman during a fight at a California restaurant and was shot by police remained hospitalized Thursday.

Attorney Adante Pointer called K’aun Green, 20, a “hero” who prevented a shooting inside the La Victoria restaurant early Sunday before a San Jose police officer opened fire, striking Green.

"The police yelled 'drop the gun,' and without giving my client a second to understand it was the police, or turn around and see what was going on, or even to drop the gun, he was shot multiple times," Pointer told NBC Bay Area.

Green was shot in the abdomen and leg and twice in the arm, Pointer said.

K'aun Green.
K'aun Green.Courtesy Adante Pointer

San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata on Tuesday said that Green did not respond to repeated orders to drop the weapon, which he described as a “ghost gun,” as he backed out of the restaurant’s front door.  

Mata said the shooting occurred roughly one block from a homicide scene that involved a gun. Fleeing customers told officers that a fight with a firearm was happening inside the restaurant, and police believed an "active shooter scenario [was] unfolding or about to unfold," Mata said.

Surveillance video from the restaurant that was shown by police captured a chaotic situation, with multiple people throwing punches and wrestling on the floor. During the fight, the gun "changed possession more than once," Mata said.

Pointer said Green had been "minding his own business" and didn't know the people involved in the fight. As the restaurant cleared out, the surveillance video captured Green trying to wrestle the gun away from others.

K'aun Green.
K'aun Green.Courtesy Adante Pointer

Disturbing bystander video that Pointer said captured the shooting showed several officers walking up a short stairway in front of La Victoria.

The door can be seen opening, and Green appears to back out of it. A still photo from police body camera video released by authorities showed Green holding the weapon in his left hand.

In the video, roughly four seconds pass between when Green opens the door and the officer fires. The video is shot from a distance, and police cannot be heard ordering Green to drop the gun.

"The officer knew that less than a block away from the homicide, a man with a gun inside a crowded restaurant engaged in a fight," Mata said, adding: "The officer knew the individual holding the gun did not drop it when commands were clearly given to him. The officer did not know who brought the gun to the restaurant."

Investigators later discovered that the gun was someone else's, Mata said. The person who originally brandished the weapon was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm, he said.

K'aun Green wears his Contra Costa college football uniform.
K'aun Green wears his Contra Costa college football uniform.Courtesy Adante Pointer

Mata said the officer, a four-year veteran of the department, was placed on routine administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. A “community briefing” with body camera video and other footage will be released in the coming weeks, he said.

Pointer said that authorities kept Green handcuffed to his hospital bed and denied him access to his family until he was cleared as a suspect "days" after the shooting.

"To then hear and watch the police press conference wherein they didn’t just admit they shot the wrong guy was very frustrating to him," Pointer said in an email.

A San Jose police spokesman declined to comment, citing "pending" litigation. Pointer said he plans to sue the department but has not yet done so.

Green was a three-time state football champion at McClymonds High School in Oakland and is a linebacker for Contra Costa College, Pointer said. According to the school's athletics program, he earned first-team all PAC-7 conference honors during the 2021 season.

Pointer didn't say where Green was shot, but said the player "remains optimistic that he will return to pursuing the sport he loves — football."