OROVILLE, Calif. - Family members said 24-year-old Cory Bush never aimed his gun at deputies.
Distraught family members are sticking by their claim that this didn't have to happen despite investigators' claims the deputy had no choice.
For the family of Bush, these have been the toughest days of their lives. Bush was shot and killed by Butte County Deputy Ben Cornelius Sunday night on Refuge Avenue in Palermo.
Investigators claim he pointed a gun at deputies.
"When the dog got there Cory threw the pellet gun down after he was holding it at port arms," said Bush's stepson, Daniel Menzes. "The barrel wasn't pointed at anybody."
Menzes said he saw the whole thing, and Bush didn't want to hurt anyone.
"He was like this about to grab it back up," said Menzes. "He said it's just a pellet gun and then when he was coming back up about right here ... boom, boom, boom."
Deputies responded to bush's home after family members reported he was having a nervous breakdown, tearing up the house and making suicidal statements.
"I told them he has a pellet gun," said Menzes. "He doesn't want to hurt anybody. He's trying to hurt himself. Don't do anything and then the guy said okay."
"They could have Tazed him, and they could've gotten him," said Bush's girlfriend, Victoria Menzes. "At no point was he a threat to their lives."
The Butte County District Attorney's Office said Bush's pellet gun is a deadly weapon, and can easily be mistaken for a .22 caliber rifle.
"It doesn't have any orange tip," said District Attorney Mike Ramsey. "There's nothing that you're going to tell to distinguish if that's a .22. It's not a BB gun. It's not a soft pellet."
Family members said they'll never look at law enforcement the same again.
"You call them for help and they come in your yard ... they killed their father," said Victoria Menzes. "How do you trust a police officer after that?"
Ramsey said he'll determine whether the shooting was officially justified once the investigation is complete.