One of the two deputies involved in the street stop shot 42-year-old Kurt Reinhold after the other deputy shouted, “he’s got my gun.” The deputies were assigned to the department’s Homeless Outreach Team and confronted Reinhold after at least one of the officers believe he jaywalked.
The sheriff’s department, in releasing new video, said it hadn’t made a determination of whether the shooting was lawful or within its policy. The department released an edited video that included narration from supervisors in the sheriff’s department and drew from dashcam, witness and nearby security footage. It released unedited versions of those videos as well.
The two deputies who initiated the jaywalking stop in September were assigned as “homeless liaison officers” in San Clemente. Their team was made up of 25 members whose job is to “assist the homeless population and provide them with access to available resources and services while protecting the quality of life for the citizens of Orange County through proactive enforcement.”
Officers assigned to the team get training in crisis intervention and de-escalation. It’s normal for deputies to have multiple contacts with someone while attempting to build rapport with them, Sheriff Don Barnes said in September after the shooting.
Sheriff’s department employees had offered services to Reinhold at least once in the 30 days before the shooting, Barnes said in September. His family told local media Reinhold was in-and-out of homelessness.
The team the deputies were assigned to has since been reorganized into a “behavioral health bureau,” according to the sheriff’s office. That team will be “working collaboratively with the County’s Health Care Agency, mental health professionals, and community stakeholders to develop and utilize innovative methods to reduce recidivism and increase crisis intervention services.”
Interaction began with deputies discussing whether to stop the man
The deputies’ interaction with the man they ended up shooting began with deputies sitting in their car in a parking lot near a 4-lane road. Some of the conversation at the beginning of the audio is not intelligible, but the deputies discuss whether to stop the man at all.
The dashcam video shows Reinhold stepping into the intersection as a green light in his direction turns yellow, and Reinhold stops and walks back as the squad car starts moving. The intersection he’s crossing is a small road that dead ends about 80 feet from the intersection, but the other three parts of the four-way intersection are major roads.
The deputies turn their car out of the parking lot and pull up to where he’s standing, on the sidewalk. The officers are wearing microphones that capture some of the conversation with the man.
One of the deputies asked him how he was doing, then one asked him to stop and get out of the street.
“Are you going to stop or are we going to have to make you stop?” one asks.
The confrontation happens out of view of the car’s dashcam.
John Taylor, an attorney for Reinhold’s family, said deputies shouldn’t have stopped Reinhold in the first place.
“Why are they stopping him? They’re supposed to deal with people in distress, people who need help. People causing a problem. You can’t criminalize a public space,” Taylor said. “The fact that he doesn’t look like, dress like, act like the people wherever he’s at, doesn’t give homeless liaison officers or anyone else the right to stop, interrogate, or more importantly put hands on him.”
Police released a second video taken by someone recording the interaction with a cell phone. That video shows Reinhold and the deputies in front of a hotel about 220 feet north of the intersection where the stop began. It shows Reinhold walking in the street and contains parts of the same conversation that the dash cam captured.
In the cell phone footage, Reinhold is seen walking toward police in the street while police back up to the sidewalk, and then he walks back out into the street. The deputies followed the man as he moved toward and away from them, and one uses his extended arm to touch Reinhold with his hand as Reinhold walks away.
“Do you see yourself? Do you see yourself? Do you see yourself?” Reinhold yelled at police.
At one point, the man slaps at the hand of one of the deputies who’s ordering him to go sit down.
Dispute over whether man tried to grab deputy’s gun
The cell phone video shows police trying to arrest him by grabbing his hands and as he’s turning away from police, trying to get control of his body to arrest him. Within a couple seconds, Reinhold and the two deputies are on the ground.
The person recording with his cell phone says “I’ve got to get this on video.” While they’re trying to wrestle control of the man, one of the deputy’s shouts “he’s got my gun.” Barnes has previously said the deputy said it four times.
A truck passed in between the person recording and the struggle across the street, obscuring the moment a deputy fired the first a shot. A second shot was fired a few seconds later. According to earlier statements from Barnes, only one deputy fired his weapon.
Surveillance video from a nearby hotel shows officers initially on top of the man but while they’re wrestling, he ends up on top of a deputy. There’s no audio on that video, but it shows Reinhold’s hand reaching for the deputy’s gun, said Carrie Braun, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department.
Taylor, the attorney for Reinhold’s family, who also watched the videos, disputed that Reinhold grabbed the gun. He said Reinhold was pushing against the officers to escape an arm hold that officers put him in after making a stop they shouldn’t have.
“(Reinhold) can’t breathe, he’s trying to push himself away,” Taylor said. “(He)’s trying to push down on (the deputy’s) body, you can see he’s trying to grab ahold of him to get some traction, some handle to push himself so he can breathe. His hand makes contact with top of gun, or holster of the gun.”
After the shooting, video shows the officers performing CPR on Reinhold.
The two deputies, and the rest of the department, weren’t assigned body-worn cameras at the time of the shooting, Braun said. There’s now a plan to assign officers cameras but there’s no timeline for when that may happen — the department is in the process of finding a vendor, Braun said.
A statement from the sheriff’s office said investigations to determine whether the shooting was lawful and according to policy are still ongoing.
The two deputies have union representation, said Alexa Pratt, spokesperson for the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.
“They’re cooperating fully with investigators, and that’s where they are in the process,” she said.
“The Orange County Sheriff’s Department extends our condolences to the family of Mr. Reinhold for their loss,” Barnes said, according to the statement. “Every time a law enforcement contact escalates to the use of deadly force, it is tragic for the family, the deputies and the community.”