Police Kill Man During Drug Raid; Officer Hit but Vest Stops Bullet
San Diego police shot and killed a man during an Ocean Beach drug raid Friday after the man shot and bruised an undercover officer wearing an armored vest. Police did not identify the dead man.
Detective John Fung, a member of the police Narcotics Task Force, was knocked to the ground by gunfire about 6 p.m. when he entered a pink apartment building in the 2200 block of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, said Lt. Charles Ellis. Fung, who was wearing a protective vest, suffered only a minor bruise on the chest. Police Chief Bill Kolender a month ago ordered that all officers wear such vests.
Ellis said officers responded by firing about a dozen rounds at the suspect. Police arrested five other suspects at the apartment house and brought in the SWAT team to surround the building and negotiate with a woman as the man lay bleeding on the floor in one room.
At 7:13 p.m., the SWAT team fired a concussion grenade inside the room and arrested the woman. Kolender said police found numerous weapons inside the apartment, which was believed to house a small cocaine dealing operation. Ellis said Fung was shot with a 9mm pistol.
Police said one suspect escaped during the raid, conducted by half a dozen undercover officers. As of late Friday night, the suspect remained at large.
Kolender was speaking at a retirement dinner at the Radisson Hotel for police employee Alice Downs, who was discussing the nine San Diego officers who have been shot and killed in the last decade when the call came over police radios: “Officer down.”
Kolender said, “I was just hoping and praying that that officer wasn’t hurt, and I’m pleased he’s not. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we mandated vests a month ago.”
Some officers opposed Kolender’s order to wear vests a couple of years ago, saying the vests were too bulky. The new vests are lightweight and more comfortable and have been well-received by officers, police spokesman Bill Robinson said.
After the shooting, Kolender said, “I don’t want to hear nobody complaining about the vest. Nobody!”
The building was a “rock ‘n’ roll fun house” where people stopped by to hear music, according to a source who frequently visited the apartment. The source said that well-known rock bands, including Motley Crue, had dropped by the house.
But in recent months, the house changed from “the rock ‘n’ roll scene to an opium den of the ‘80s,” the source said.
Ellis said that undercover plainclothes officers approached the apartment house at 5:20 p.m. with a warrant and knocked on the door. After Fung was shot, police officers blocked traffic for several blocks in all directions around the intersection of Voltaire Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.
Shortly after the shooting, police led three men and two women, in handcuffs and wearing blue jeans and T-shirts, from the house. Police did not identify the suspects.
As onlookers gathered on street corners, SWAT team members carrying rifles and clad in military helmets and camouflage uniforms marched to the apartment, where they attempted to negotiate with the woman inside. After waiting for more than an hour, police fired the percussion grenade through a window and rushed into the apartment. They said they found the woman stunned and the man dead on the floor.