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Man, Shot by Mistake, to Have Surgery Today

Times Staff Writer

Sundaga Bryant, the 26-year-old Liberian immigrant mistakenly shot by Newport Beach police early Sunday, will undergo skin graft surgery today to replace tissue extending from his hips to his left arm.

Bryant had already undergone emergency surgery at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital to repair a severed artery in his left arm, to remove his colon and part of his stomach. He remained in critical condition late Wednesday, and a family spokesman said there still is a danger that his injured arm might have to be amputated.

A police officer, responding to a report of a man on the beach carrying a sawed-off shotgun, fired one shotgun blast at Bryant, mistakenly believing that a portable radio Bryant carried on a strap over his shoulder was a shotgun, police said. A teen-age boy, who was found nearby with a toy gun, apparently prompted the original report, police said.

Christian W. Keena, the attorney representing the shooting victim, said that Bryant’s sister, Barbara Martin of Alexandria, Va., will fly to Orange County today and stand by in case she is needed as a skin donor.

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“The man’s constantly on painkillers,” Keena said. “He could barely speak to me. He can move his arms, but they’re all wrapped; they look like a mummy’s. His abdomen is open. I spent some time in Vietnam, and seeing him kind of made me flash back.”

Keena said the family is trying to keep Bryant’s spirits up, but “he understands the seriousness of his situation.”

According to Marlene Bryant, her husband has asked that he be photographed and the photo distributed to news media. “He wants people to see what they did to him,” she said. A bedside photo session was scrapped by Bryant’s doctors Wednesday.

According to police, officers approached Bryant on the beach north of the Balboa Pier at about 2:50 a.m. Sunday and shouted, “Drop it!” When Bryant turned toward them with something resembling a sawed-off shotgun at his waist, police said, one officer fired, wounding him.

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Bryant’s wife has said that police fired immediately after the shout and that her husband did not have a chance to turn. The physician who treated Bryant has said the shotgun pellets entered Bryant’s left arm and side and passed through to his right arm.

Keena said a few others were on the beach and may have seen the shooting, although no one has come forward yet.

He said a fund established to help pay for Bryant’s medical bills received “several hundred dollars” during the first day.


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