Video shows O.C. sheriff’s deputies fatally shooting Black man, sparking protests
The fatal shooting of a Black man by two Orange County sheriff’s deputies during a struggle in San Clemente, captured on video, spurred a protest and the arrest of several activists who blockaded a street Thursday.
At least five protesters were taken into custody when about 50 people demonstrated at the site of the killing. They chanted, “No justice, no peace” and said the deputies didn’t need to use deadly force on the man.
San Clemente officials implemented a 9 p.m. curfew Thursday seeking to quell any late-night protests like those that have led to confrontations in cities across the nation.
In a cellphone video of Wednesday’s shooting, two sheriff’s deputies can be seen confronting the man, later identified as Kurt Andras Reinhold, in the middle of El Camino Real. The deputies wrestle him to the ground. After a voice, presumably that of a deputy, yells, “He’s got my gun,” two shots can be heard in the video, which was first posted by Local Story.
The video begins with the deputies, part of a specialized detail that handles homeless issues, seeking to control Reinhold, 42.
The deputies tell Reinhold that he is walking in the middle of the street. Reinhold then repeatedly tells the deputies, “Stop touching me, stop touching me.” Reinhold asks the deputies why they are trying to touch him. “Go sit down,” one of the deputies says. Reinhold refuses to comply and tries to walk past the deputies.
The deputies then push and grab Reinhold and wrestle him to the ground on a grassy area on the sidewalk about 1:15 p.m. near the Hotel Miramar.
Reinhold wiggles on the ground as the deputies try to apply their weight to him and restrain his arms.
A voice then yells, “He’s got my gun, he’s got my gun.”
The video, recorded by a bystander on the opposite curb, does not show enough detail to determine whether Reinhold reached for the deputy’s gun.
But within a second, two shots can be heard, and the bystander recording the video says, “Oh my God.”
A second video shows the deputies performing CPR on the man.
Sheriff Don Barnes said Thursday that Reinhold tried to unholster a deputy’s weapon.
“It is not clear if Mr. Reinhold was able to get the weapon out of the holster,” he said.
The sheriff displayed a grainy photo that he said showed Reinhold grabbing the gun. Barnes said the image came from surveillance video from a security camera at a nearby business. The Times has not reviewed the video.
“Obviously it ended in a way we did not hope,” Barnes said. “Weapon retention is one of the first things taught in the academy.”
The shooting has echoes of the killing of Charly “Africa” Keunang by Los Angeles police officers during a violent confrontation on the sidewalk of skid row in 2015. Keunang was shot after a rookie officer yelled that the homeless, mentally ill man was going for his gun as they wrestled.
The Los Angeles County district attorney declined to charge the officers, saying Keunang had his fingers around the gun and presented a reasonable threat. His death led to questions about the number of police shootings involving unhoused people struggling with mental illness.
Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said she could not say what led to the detention of Reinhold, because deputies did not convey that information as part of their required statement on the shooting. She said that information will be gathered by the Orange County district attorney’s investigators who handle shootings by sheriff’s deputies.
Reinhold had lived in San Clemente for 30 days, the sheriff said, and had been approached about receiving shelter but declined. Barnes said the deputies are part of a unit that specializes in homeless services and were familiar with Reinhold. They have been trained in de-escalation techniques, he said.
Activists carrying banners and signs reading “Stop Killing Black People” stood in the street Thursday demanding justice for Reinhold.
Jackson Hinkle, a former San Clemente City Council candidate and one of the protest organizers, called on the sheriff to dismiss the deputies and for Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer to charge them with second-degree murder for what Hinkle said amounted to killing a man for jaywalking.
Deputies wearing helmets and tactical vests and carrying batons formed a skirmish line and removed protesters from the roadway, arresting several of them on suspicion of obstruction.
Some residents said they were stunned by the shooting, with one saying they had seen Reinhold minutes before he was killed.
“He went to the flower store and asked for money because he was hungry,” Melinda Steinmetz told the Orange County Register. “Then he went to get something to eat, and the next thing we knew, he was dead in the street.”
Najee Ali, a civil rights activist working with Reinhold’s relatives, said late Thursday that “this was an unjustified murder.”
“The only person who de-escalated this situation was Kurt when he said don’t touch me,” Ali said. “This went wrong from very start.”
Ali said he doesn’t know if Reinhold touched the gun but doubts he was aware of it he if did: “He was flailing around, scared for his life.”
The Los Angeles activist said Reinhold was an educated man struggled who with mental illness that severely impacted his life.
“They stopped him for jaywalking in a beach city where it’s common,” Ali said. “For too long, Black folks have seen minor offenses used as pretext to detain and harass them.”
Ali said protesters were met with counterprotesters Thursday night, and a man walked up to him and warned him to get back to South L.A.
Police use-of-force experts said the situation Wednesday was difficult and escalated despite the initial calm efforts of the deputies to remove Reinhold from a busy thoroughfare.
“The gentleman presents a danger to himself and motorists,” said Ed Obayashi, a deputy in Plumas County, Calif., and state training expert on the use of force. “The deputies are trying to get him out of the street. He is being belligerent and denying what he is doing, and they are calm and just repeating instructions.”
Obayashi said it would have been better if the deputies had applied more pressure to Reinhold’s arm quickly to subdue him. He said that if Reinhold did try to get a deputy’s gun, then deadly force would be considered necessary — the standard under California law.
“People will ask, ‘Why did they not just Taser him before the fight began?’ Well, what then was the threat he poses to justify that?” Obayashi said.
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