An Orange County sheriff’s deputy was determined by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to be justified in his fatal shooting of a homeless Black man in San Clemente, California, who deputies thought was jaywalking, according to the Mercury News.
Deputy Eduardo Duran was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in the September 2020 shooting of 42-year-old Kurt Andreas Reinhold in an investigation that looked into the fatal shooting that eventually led to protests in San Clemente. Reinhold’s family says he suffered from mental illness and often did not stay on his medication.
The District Attorney’s office and leaders of the Sheriff’s Department say that Reinhold was reaching for a deputy’s gun while in a struggle with Duran and his partner.
One of the attorneys representing Reinhold’s family, Neil Gehlawat said, according to the Mercury News, “disappointing but not surprising” when reacting to the deputy being cleared. He also thinks the police stop was racially motivated and had no reason to kill Reinhold.
Duran and his partner, Deputy Jonathan Israel, were both homeless liaison officers who were involved in the incident that resulted in Reinhold being killed. There is a video from their police car that caught some of what happened leading up to the shooting.
From The Mercury News:
Israel, just before 1:15 p.m., spotted Reinhold walking toward an intersection in the 2200 block of South El Camino Real, telling his partner, “Watch this, this is a jaywalk” moments before Reinhold walked across the street.
That video does not show any moving vehicle in or near the intersection when Reinhold enters it.
As Israel drove toward Reinhold, Duran can be heard cautioning, “Don’t make case law, Gabriel,” a comment he later explained to investigators by saying he didn’t see Reinhold’s actions at the intersection and wanted to make sure Israel had probable cause to stop Reinhold.
One of the deputies can be heard on the dashboard video initially asking Reinhold, “What’s going on, man? How are you doing? Where are you going?”
“You going to stop, or do we have to make you stop?” Israel is heard telling Reinhold.
“For what? I’m walking,” Reinhold replies.
“For jaywalking,” Israel says.
“What are you talking about? I’m walking,” Reinhold is heard telling the deputy.
A bystander began filming the encounter, as the deputies repeatedly told Reinhold to stop and he repeatedly told them to stop touching him, at one point saying, “Get off me, I did nothing wrong.” After several minutes, Deputy Duran is seen grabbing Reinhold by his backpack and taking him to the ground.
“He’s got my gun!” Israel can be heard yelling multiple times in the bystander video, followed by a gunshot, a pause, and a second gunshot. Reinhold was struck twice in his upper torso, according to the letter.
There is also surveillance footage from a hotel close by that looks like it shows Reinhold’s hand going towards Duran’s gun. But Reinhold’s family claims his arms were just flailing while he was on the concrete and not reaching for the gun, according to the Mercury News.
In a statement from the family of Reinhold, it says, “This conclusion from the report confirms what we have been saying since day one – Deputies Israel and Duran had no reason whatsoever to stop Mr. Reinhold. This was a racially motivated stop aimed at harassing Mr. Reinhold, nothing more.”
Now the family has filed a lawsuit claiming that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Homeless Outreach Team is unprepared when it comes to dealing with people who are mentally ill and are taking people of color into custody disproportionately, according to the Mercury News.