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O.C. deputies argued over whether to stop Black man before fatally shooting him

Kurt Reinhold
Kurt Reinhold, shown in a family photo on a soccer field at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in 2018, was shot and killed during an encounter with two Orange County sheriff’s deputies in San Clemente in September.
(Family photo)

Before fatally shooting a Black man in San Clemente last year, two Orange County sheriff’s deputies argued over whether the man had illegally crossed the street and whether it was necessary to stop him, a newly released recording reveals.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday released dashcam video and security camera footage from a motel that shows the fatal encounter with Kurt Andras Reinhold, who was shot to death Sept. 23.

A previously released bystander cellphone video shows the two deputies confronting Reinhold in the middle of El Camino Real. The deputies, part of a detail that specializes in homelessness issues, are seen trying to stop Reinhold from walking away before wrestling him to the ground. A voice is heard yelling, “He’s got my gun,” followed by two shots several seconds apart.

The dashcam video provides new insight into what prompted the deadly confrontation with the 42-year-old father of two, whose family said he was having a mental health crisis.

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The two deputies, identified as Eduardo Duran and Jonathan Israel, spotted Reinhold near El Camino Road and Avenida San Gabriel as they sat in their cruiser about 1:30 p.m.

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New dashcam video and security camera footage show the confrontation that led to the death of Kurt Andras Reinhold on Sept. 23.

“Okey-doke. He’s seen you. He’s seen you, copper,” one of the deputies can be heard saying as he spots Reinhold seemingly eyeing the police cruiser.

“Watch this. He is going to jaywalk,” the second deputy says, adding, “there you go.”

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His colleague replies but seems to debate whether Reinhold’s movement was illegal. “I don’t know, dude.”

The second deputy tells his partner, “Don’t make case law.” And his partner snaps back, “It is not case law.”

The two then pull the patrol car alongside Reinhold, who is standing on the sidewalk. “What’s going on? How are you doing?” one of the deputies asks as he disappears from the dashcam view.

“Are you going to stop, or we going to have to make you stop?” a deputy asks Reinhold. “Because I am telling you to stop.”

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Reinhold replies, “For what?” to which the deputy responds, “For jaywalking.”

“What are you talking about? I am walking,” Reinhold says.

One of the deputies is then heard informing Reinhold he is resisting arrest. “That’s ridiculous,” Reinhold says.

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When the dashcam ceases to capture audio from the body-worn microphones of the deputies, the bystander cellphone video picks up the encounter and shows the two deputies confronting Reinhold as he repeatedly tells them, “Stop touching me.

“Go sit down,” one deputy tells him. But the agitated man ignores the command and tries to walk away. Video shows the law enforcement officers wrestling Reinhold to the ground and him wriggling as they try to restrain his arms.

A voice then shouts: “He’s got my gun! He’s got my gun!” followed by two gunshots.

“Oh, my God,” the person recording the altercation can be heard saying in the video, which then shows deputies administering CPR to Reinhold.

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In the wake of the shooting, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes released a still image from a security camera at a nearby hotel that he said showed Reinhold trying to unholster one of the deputy’s guns before the shots were fired.

On Wednesday, the Sheriff’s Department released the entire security camera video from the hotel. Reinhold is seen touching the gun as one of the deputies has him on the ground in a headlock. But the video doesn’t reveal whether he was trying to unholster the weapon.

John Taylor, an attorney for Reinhold’s family, said that Reinhold was trying to push up and his left hand slid down the side of the deputy, who had him in a headlock on the ground, almost face to face. He said the video revealed no tugging at the holster.

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Taylor said the deputies created the situation and then escalated the confrontation with Reinhold, ultimately causing his death.

“No wonder they didn’t want to turn over their explanation for stopping him,” Taylor said. “They killed him for what? The deputies didn’t even agree he jaywalked.”

Reinhold’s family is suing the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, alleging his death was the result of putting a homelessness detail on the street that disproportionately targets people of color and is ill-equipped to deal with mental illness. One of the deputies had his stun gun drawn when he confronted Reinhold, the family’s attorney said, and the deputies were raising their voices and “closing space.”

“If Kurt Reinhold wasn’t a Black man, this stop — let alone the shooting — never happens,” Taylor said.

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The lawsuit accuses the deputies of using deadly force on an unarmed man who “never posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury” and states that Reinhold, who had been sleeping outside in the area, was harassed by the deputies.

The Orange County district attorney’s office, the Sheriff’s Department and the county’s law enforcement watchdog agency are all investigating.

The shooting echoes the 2015 death of a Black man named Charly “Africa” Keunang, who was mentally ill and homeless. Keunang was shot to death by Los Angeles Police Department officers in the daytime on skid row.

In that case, one officer, a rookie, shouted that the homeless man had his gun. Keunang allegedly grabbed it as the officer knelt on his chest and pummeled him. The L.A. County district attorney declined to prosecute the two officers, saying the dead man had had his fingers around the weapon.


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