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Shooting Victim's Family Devastated, Wondering What Went Wrong

Anthony Banta Jr. was fatally shot by police while holding a knife, family members say

What happened?

That is the basic question being asked by the family of Anthony Banta Jr.

The 22-year-old was shot to death early Thursday morning by Walnut Creek police officers who responded to a 9-1-1 call about a loud disturbance at the Creekside Drive apartment where Banta lived.

Family members are distraught and perplexed.

What, they ask, caused Banta to wake up screaming in the middle of the night and attack his roommate?

Why, they ask, did police use lethal force when Banta was armed with only a knife?

"We are devastated. Our hearts have been ripped out," said Brett Grainger, Banta's grandfather.

The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's office.

The coroner's office completed an autopsy Friday, but a spokesman said  findings won't be released for several weeks.

Grainger, whose daughter is Banta's mother, said Banta had cooked dinner for his roommate and the roommate's girlfriend on Wednesday evening.

Nothing seemed unusual, Grainger said, until Banta woke up screaming in the middle of the night. Grainger said Banta didn't know who he was and started choking his roommate when the roommate tried to calm him down.

Grainger said the roommate's girlfriend called 9-1-1. Police say they received that call about 3:15 a.m. and could hear someone yelling in the background.

Officers arrived minutes later. Grainger said Banta picked up a knife when police came into the apartment. The officers yelled for him to put down the weapon. When Banta didn't, Grainger said they shot him.

"Did they have to use lethal force?" asked Grainger. "Could they have used a taser or thrown a table or chair against the wall and subdued him? No one in the world deserves to die like this."

At a press conference Thursday morning, Walnut Creek Police Capt. Tim Schultz said the officers were concerned for their safety when they fired the shots.

On Friday afternoon, Walnut Creek Police Chief Joel Bryden said his department wouldn't comment further at this time due to the ongoing investigation. He said they will have more to say after the investigation is completed sometime next week.

Grainger said the family is still trying to sort out what happened early Thursday morning.

Grainger said his grandson was the "sweetest, kindest person who ever walked the face of the Earth."

He said the family believes Banta must had some kind of mental breakdown or possibly a brain tumor that caused him to act so out of character.

Grainger said his grandson did not use drugs and had no criminal record.

"He was a loving, caring individual who wouldn't hurt a flea," said Grainger.

Banta spent his early years in the Paradise area outside of Chico, where Grainger still lives. His family eventually moved to Yuba City. Banta graduated a few years ago from Yuba City High School.

He went to beauty school and was working as a hairdresser at Salon Amour on Newell Avenue in Walnut Creek. Grainger said he loved his work and was quite good at it.

"He was going places," Grainger said.

A recording on the salon's phone Friday afternoon said the business was closed.

Banta's mother is a registered nurse in Yuba City. Banta has a twin brother, Ashton, who is in the Air Force. Grainger said Ashton is flying back from Germany to be with the family.

Banta also has two younger sisters, ages 18 and 13.

Mandy Grainger, Banta's aunt, said her two children, ages 13 and 12, are having trouble understanding what has happened.

"All they know is he's gone," she said.

Grainger said she is still in shock over her nephew's death.

"I'm numb and I'm operating on very little sleep," she said.

cs December 30, 2012 at 09:58 AM
My sincere condolences to Anthony' s family and friends. As one of Anthony's regular customers I got to know Anthony. He was pleasant and easygoing and a caring individual. He often spoke of his family especially about his twin brother who he admired and was looking forward to visiting with him. He was a young man with a small trim frame and a sweet smile who was proud of his work. This is a Tragic and senseless loss.
Pikgitar December 30, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Politically speaking, are you, Josh? It has to be "liberal attorneys" that would be thwarting all those conservatives who wish every cop carry Tasers? I think you should do a little more research on the subject of what happens when you add Tasers to a cops arsenal. After all, Oscar Grant was shot with a Taser, wasn't he? My bad, he was shot with the "excuse" Taser that made BART police officer Johannes Mehserle not realize he had actually pulled his service weapon "by mistake". And of course cops should always be believed. Isn't that right. Josh?
Pikgitar December 30, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Isn't there another possibility, another angle, Patcher? Come on now. Think real hard.
Pikgitar December 30, 2012 at 12:08 PM
What is it that makes you think the cops had to kill? You're sure they "had to" ? I would venture a guess that you believe that cops never tell lies.
Pikgitar December 30, 2012 at 12:14 PM
There is not one word of hearsay in the article. What's shameful is your ability to even understand what hearsay actually is. Think for a little while before you post if you don't want your ignorance to show.
Pikgitar December 30, 2012 at 12:26 PM
I hope his family do not let the WCPD circle the wagons and hide the facts. That is the most common thing that police departments do when their cops make potentially costly mistakes, like killing UN-necessarily.
Gram December 30, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Does Walnut Creek PD use tasers?
Karyne Ghantous December 30, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Sleep walking syndrome can make a person appear to be awake. They can also become very violent if someone interrupts them while they are engaged in an activity. If it was not drugs, that can be an explanation. It is typically an inherited trait. A tazer would have prevented this.
voice of reason December 30, 2012 at 07:38 PM
A taser is only effective within about 10-14 feet. A knife is considered lethal at 21 feet. Depending on the distance the taser would have been the wrong choice. Regardless, when it's a life and death situation, the taser is again the wrong choice. Its like they say, "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight.". Well, don't bring a taser to a knife fight. If any one of us was being threatened by a person with knife, I'm sure we would like to have a gun to defend ourselves. Tasers are not very accurate as both prongs must be securely in the person or their tight fitting clothing in order for them to be effective. There are numerous split decisions that must be made by an officer in a life threatening situation like this. We don't know all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident so we shouldn't be quick to judge. It's is an absolute tragedy nonetheless and my heart goes out to the kid's family.
Debora Killeen December 30, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Sounds like to me, our officers need more training when dealing with a mentally ill person compared to a cold blooded killer. A knife is a weapon and I have been in a situation that was life threatening and it was a person whom had no previous behavior like this situation before but was showing signs of stress and depression, but I thank God for all the wonderful therapy sessions, support groups, and other training I opted to attend to help raise my children and just deal with the public in a positive and safe way because it saved my life in this situation and I had no tazer, gun, knife, or any weapon but my hands and mind filled with mental tools. The police were called and did arrive to assist but ready to shoot and end thus crisis once and for all! With an attitude and no compassion. I am very thankful for our law enforcers but as any other human being they make mistakes but if a little more training was given to them about mental illness I know they would have made a different choice. I feel so sorry for the family and friends if Mr. Banta. Looks like we should add knives to the ban on guns!
C Geraghty December 30, 2012 at 11:13 PM
It is very very sad that a young man is gone and my heart goes out to his family. I would also like to say that WC does not have much crime and for the officers to face a situation like this they may of just not known what to do. If others were really in danger at the time I understand, however if they were not wait him out. Get the roommate and the girlfriend out of the apartment and talk him down. If he was small framed, and if he just got up and started attaching his roommate, something strange was going on. Talk him down, If he was sleepwalking, you can also talk him down. Better training. I just pray something good comes out of this. I know that the family and friends will not find something good from this, I pray they find the answers they need.
Truth December 31, 2012 at 01:44 AM
To those who think a Taser should be used you need to educate yourselves. An assailant can cover over 20' in the time it takes an Officers to make the discission to fire his/her weapon. If this guy had dropped the knife he would not be dead. Tasers are not used when a suspect is holding a knife....which is a deadly weapon.
Patty F. December 31, 2012 at 02:23 AM
I was one of Anthony's clients too, and just cannot imagine a sweeter, more dedicated person. He really cared about doing the right thing for everyone and, as his grandfather says, was going places. It's absolutely heart-breaking, and to echo what several people have said, he was small and trim, not threatening-looking at all, with a very gentle demeanor. He often spoke of his mother and his family. Such a dreadful loss.
mikedude December 31, 2012 at 04:32 AM
The grandfather was not present during ANY of the events. Everything he states about the night in question has come from someone else relaying information to him. It is the very definition of hearsay.
Josh Goldman December 31, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Liberals are to blame for his death because liberals hate all cops and are always trying to cut their budget and ban tasers.
speaking for the babies, children December 31, 2012 at 05:04 PM
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/05/13/10-tips-for-highly-sensitive-people/ R.I.P. Banta...Hopefully ALL others will learn, learn, learn from this tragic situation. For all looking for learning and understanding -Please, Look up the highly sensitive person on the internet (HSP). HSP's are NOT mentally ill, just misunderstood. Take the time and read and learn and try to understand about who the HSP's are, and what makes them "tick". Learn about the HSP as to why they are the way they are, and the characteristics that make HSP's different from the majority. What makes them Highly Sensitive People. Many I Know, if not all of hairstylist are HSP's, 'highly sensitive people' HSP's are highly creative, highly imaginative, and very highly sensitive, loving, child-like, dedicated, caring, very gifted. I know this personally as a beauty shop owner/stylist. -HSP's are different, and are very special people -Just take some time to learn about the HSP, and change the HSP world to help them, and not to harm the HSP. God Help Banta's Family, I Pray For Peace. http://www.hsperson.com/
BobG December 31, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Josh, give it a rest already. First you post that "God has his plan" then you repeat yourself several times essentially blaming "liberals". You are not adding anything to the discussion.
John N January 01, 2013 at 05:45 AM
It seems kind of a shame that this story has pretty much vanished from the newspaper. There was such an outcry when Tayvon Martin and Oscar Grant were killed but where is the uproar for Anthony? I grieve for his family, co-workers and friends. Watching his grand father at the vigil tore my heart out being a grand father myself. I could not imagine losing any of my grand children no matter what their age. He is only looking for answers and I think he and we deserve them. Anthony was a kind soul and deserved a better fate. Keep this in the news. PLEASE!!!!
John N January 01, 2013 at 05:48 AM
Great words and wisdom. Thanks
John N January 01, 2013 at 05:50 AM
I am sure this will get buried big time. We will never get closure or the answers we seek.
Michelle Banta January 01, 2013 at 06:53 AM
OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD. I am one of many family members he has. We have had a lot of losses this year. This is by far the worst one. There is no need for negative comments. If you have something that is positive or a MEMORY OF ANTHONY by all means do so. If not, please keep your issues to yourself. We do not need this. REST IN PARADISE LOVE.
Pikgitar January 01, 2013 at 01:14 PM
There is not one word of hearsay written by the author of this article. It's also a guess on your part regarding whether or not the grandfather was stating hearsay. I concluded that the grandfather had to have a source to have the kind of knowledge that he proffered. After all, the cops had not released it, or if they did it was done secretly. I think that the grandfather was informed by the only other logical source. I will leave you think about who that source might have been. I also think that source is of great concern for the WCPD. That seems to me to be the only logical reason the WCPD wouldn't even say what the weapon was. I have monitored 100's of police shooting cases and never do the cops NOT say publicly the type of weapon the victim had and usually that info is released immediately, but for the WCPD spokesman to refuse to answer direct questions re: the weapon points directly to a problem that the WCPD is trying to contain. It's classic.
Pikgitar January 01, 2013 at 01:25 PM
You're hilarious, Josh. It's not hard to figure that you love cops and wish that the cops would get rid of all those liberals that clutter your perceived world. You might like to know that in everybody's life a little liberalism must mess things up, the same as rain turns good clean dirt into mud.
P January 01, 2013 at 11:58 PM
NO the grandfather wasn’t there. I believe he got this info from the roommate but I cannot be sure. You see the police are not releasing any information on this except for the vague info that was initially reported.
P January 02, 2013 at 12:03 AM
I don't think anyone is asserting that they "wanted" to shoot anyone. I think the assertion is that there might have been gross negligence or over zealessness.
Justin January 02, 2013 at 07:28 AM
I really liked Anthony.
Josh Goldman January 02, 2013 at 08:11 AM
Yes, our God has a plan.
Mom 2 Boys January 02, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Praying for your family, Michelle.
BobG January 02, 2013 at 05:04 PM
This incident baffles me even more today after I read that local police were confronted by a naked man wielding a samurai sword and spent two hours talking to him until he put down the weapon. It is too difficult to second guess any situation without being there, and it is a difficult time being a police officer, but there should be some standardization of protocol across all law enforcement.
David Mills (Editor) January 02, 2013 at 05:18 PM
Hello, folks... thanks for your thoughts. We feel everyone has had a chance to express themselves, so we are closing off comments on this story.

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