Man wounded in 5th Huntington Beach police shooting this year

A man was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after being shot by Huntington Beach police officers Sunday night near Beacon Hill Lane and Lawn Haven Drive, authorities said.

Huntington Beach officers contacted a man and a woman in a black Chevrolet Camaro in the area shortly before 10:30 p.m., said Officer Jennifer Marlatt, spokeswoman for the Huntington Beach Police Department.

“At some point during the contact, an officer-involved shooting occurred,” Marlatt said.

It is unclear what led to the shooting. Authorities said no further details are currently being released.

Police said the man, who was not identified, was wounded and taken to a hospital for treatment.

The woman, identified as Kristan Leann Porter-Swartz, 26, of Antelope in Sacramento County, was arrested on outstanding warrants in connection with theft and drug charges, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. She was not hurt, authorities said.

An officer was injured in the incident and was treated at a hospital and released, Marlatt said.

Mia Elliott said Monday that the shooting occurred right in front of her house on Lawn Haven. She and her friend Linda Scott, who was visiting from Culver City, were inside when they heard popping noises in rapid succession, Elliott said.

“My first thought was that kids were shooting off fireworks,” Elliott said.

But as she walked to her front window to investigate, she saw that her typically sleepy neighborhood was packed with police cars and officers. Lights from the patrol vehicles cast a glow on her front yard, she said.

When the two women walked outside, they saw a stopped Chevrolet Camaro, Elliott said. A man in his 20s or early 30s was lying face down on the pavement near the driver’s side door. A woman on the passenger side of the car was on her hands and knees on the pavement, crawling toward police, Elliott said.

“Police kept telling the man to stand up and he kept responding, ‘I can’t, I’m shot,’” Elliott said. She said she didn’t see a weapon near the man.

On Monday morning, Elliott and Scott stood on the street surveying damage from the night before.

A large bullet hole was in the rear right side of Scott’s Honda CR-V. The wood fence surrounding the front of Elliott’s property had a hole and several marks where she said bullets had hit it.

Investigators collected bullets from her front yard early Monday, Elliott said.

As is typical for officer-involved shootings in Huntington Beach, the Sheriff’s Department will investigate the incident.

This is Huntington Beach’s fifth officer-involved shooting this year and the second this month. The total so far is more than in any entire year this decade, according to department archives.

The others in 2017:

  • March 9: Steven Schiltz, 29, was shot and killed by police on a crowded soccer field in the Huntington Central Park Sports Complex on Goldenwest Street. Police and a witness said he had chased children and others with a baseball bat and a broken bottle. Schiltz’s mother, Angela Hernandez, has alleged police used excessive force.

In a 25-hour span in January, the Police Department had three officer-involved shootings:

  • Jan. 9, a man who reportedly was armed with a knife was wounded after being shot by police at the Huntington By-the-Sea RV Resort on Newland Street.
  • A few hours after that, police fired shots as they were pursuing two men and two juveniles who were later arrested on suspicion of trying to break into a business that once housed a marijuana dispensary in the 17500 block of Griffin Lane. No one was injured.
  • Jan. 8, a dog was shot and killed by police after it bit an officer while its owner was being arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, police said.

Huntington Beach police typically have had one or two officer-involved shootings each year since 2011. In 2010, there were none, records show.
Marlatt told the Daily Pilot in January that Huntington Beach officers are permitted to use their guns in defense of their own lives or the lives of others.

“It’s the officer’s perception of the situation,” Marlatt said at the time. “If the officer thought his life was in danger or someone else’s life was in danger, he could use deadly force.”

Peter Hanink, a Ph.D. candidate at UC Irvine who is studying the use of deadly force by police departments, said five officer-involved shootings in less than three months in a city the size of Huntington Beach is noteworthy. Huntington Beach, Orange County’s fourth-largest city, has a population of about 195,000, according to 2016 data from Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Demographic Research.

“That’s significantly more than you would expect given the population and given the general demographics of Huntington Beach,” he said. “It’s not an environment with terribly high crime rates.”

By comparison, the Police Department of Anaheim — Orange County’s largest city, with a population of about 358,000 — has had two officer-involved shootings this year. One occurred when detectives were following up on an investigation in San Diego. The other involved an off-duty Los Angeles police officer who fired his gun during a clash in February with teenagers outside his Anaheim home.

Costa Mesa, population about 114,000, has had no police shootings this year.

Hanink said the lack of a database on officer-involved shootings nationwide makes it difficult to pinpoint why some areas may see an increase in such shootings.

“The broader context we want to keep in mind is that tensions between the community and police are certainly at a high point in recent memory,” he said. “There’s a broader tension between police officers and civilians that informs police/citizen interaction.”

Anaheim police Sgt. Daron Wyatt said the number of officer-involved shootings typically varies from year to year without much rhyme or reason. However, he said there is one common theme in most situations in which officers fire at a suspect.

“The suspect didn’t do what they were supposed to do or did something that they were explicitly told not to do,” Wyatt said.

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN