The stepmother of Jason Paul Yule knew something was wrong when she called to check on him at his new job at the Goodwill Industries thrift store in Roseville.
The 27-year-old man had simply walked off the job March 28, leaving his bicycle chained up near the back door, Melody Aslin was told.
"I spent the next 10 days looking for him," Aslin said.
On Saturday night, she heard a news report: A pipe-wielding man had been shot to death by a police officer on Vernon Street in Roseville. The name of the deceased man was not released.
"Even without his name, I knew Jason had been shot," she said. "I just knew it was Jason."
Police said the officer who fired the fatal shots ordered Yule to drop the pipe. He then used a Taser, but it was ineffective, said Lt. David Allison.
"As the man came at him with the pipe, the officer had no choice but to use deadly force in order to protect his own life," Allison said.
Friends and family of Yule, who was homeless, questioned why the officer didn't shoot his leg or arm to disable him.
Allison said it is difficult for some people to understand that disabling someone is not always possible.
"An incident like this happens in a split second," he said. "The officer was able to use a Taser. I am surprised he was able to do that under the circumstances.
"It's easy on Monday morning to ask why the officer didn't shoot him in the leg or arm. In a situation like that, you don't have time to aim for a leg or arm. You shoot to stop the threat."
Aslin, who now lives in Auburn, said Yule lived with her in Sacramento for five years when she was married to his father.
"We had him when he was between 11 and 16," she said. "Jason had a rough life. He started getting into trouble, and he went to juvenile hall and then to (the California Youth Authority)."
"He was actually a gentle person," Aslin said. "He had a psychiatric evaluation, and it showed that he had the volatility to react severely if threatened."
Aslin recalled that Yule would put his arms up to block the blows of others when he was in a fighting situation.
"The police say Jason attacked them," she said. "In my mind, I see Jason putting his arms up defensively. Maybe with the pipe in his hand, it might have looked like he was threatening someone who didn't know Jason."
Allison said two witnesses saw Yule carrying a metal pipe and acting suspiciously after 6 p.m. Saturday.
"The two witnesses said it all," he said. "They saw the look in his eyes, they saw the pipe and they felt threatened. One even took evasive action by walking around the block to avoid him."
The responding officer chased Yule before the suspect turned around and forced the confrontation, Allison said.
The officer is on paid administrative leave while an investigation is conducted, Allison said.
"He also has to be ready to come back," he said. "It's a horrible feeling for him to be put into (the position of shooting a person). It's not where any officer wants to be."
Aslin said Yule recently had begun taking medication and was a patient at a local mental hospital.
When he was in his early 20s, Yule moved to Georgia and Arkansas to be near his father, who had moved away and began drinking, she said.
Yule's criminal file in Placer Superior Court shows several arrests for public intoxication.
Yule used the address of St. Vincent de Paul as his residence.
Aslin said her stepson liked to make people laugh.
"He was like a big clown," she said. "He actually spent a lot of time at the library, using the computers. He loved to read."
Friends of Yule in Royer Park, where he liked to hang out and drink, said he was "a good guy."
"He was always cracking jokes," said Mike Lisac. "I never saw him angry. This incident was out of character for him."
Lisac, however, said he recently saw troubling behavior.
"He felt someone was watching him," he said. "He even got a short haircut so that he would be harder to recognize."
Yule's death was the second in less than a week in which a law enforcement officer fatally shot someone in Roseville.
On April 3, an off-duty Sacramento County sheriff's deputy returned to her Roseville home to find an intruder, police said.
She told police she shot the man when he tried to sexually assault her.
Charles David Williams, 40, who had a long history of arrests for alcohol-related incidents, was killed. Police said the investigation is continuing.
(note: Story originally published 04/10/07; story's last updated date reflects change in expiration date)