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Southern California Deputy Who Gunned Down a Black Homeless Man Stopped for Jaywalking Will Face No Charges

A California deputy will not face charges after killing a homeless person he stopped for jaywalking. The unsheltered Black man was in the midst of a mental health crisis when he encountered the Orange County deputy in 2020.

A statement from District Attorney Todd Spitzer breaks down his office’s “investigation and legal conclusion” on Deputy Eduardo Duran’s shooting that resulted in the death of Kurt Andreas Reinhold on Sept. 23, 2020. The deputy shot the man after he grabbed Duran’s gun during an arrest.

Kurt Andreas Reinhold (family photo)

Reinhold’s family disputes the DA’s account.

The Office of the Orange County District Attorney states that on the day of the incident OCDA Special Assignment Unit responded to a request to investigate a police-involved shooting in San Clemente.

The office conducted 23 interviews of witnesses as a part of their research and reviewed the Orange County Sheriff’s report on the killing, audio dispatch, and also radio traffic recordings

The DA’s office said it considered the toxicology reports, video surveillance footage, subject photographs, and civilian videos, among other evidence.

Prosecutors also looked at Reinhold’s criminal history while deciding if the deputy did something wrong when the 13-year deputy shot the homeless man.

Around 9 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2020, while Deputy Duran was stationed at the Sheriff’s Annex (located at San Clemente City Hall), the officer watched Reinhold trespassing on the Ole Hanson Pool Center property.

Based on what he saw, Duran drove with two other officers, Deputy Mike Harris and Deputy Luis Perez, to where the man was to check if he was up to something. Harris said, according to the report, that Reinhold was familiar to him and that had been hanging around the community for approximately a month.  

The three of them went over to him to engage in conversation with the man in hopes to persuade him to leave. 

The man refused to speak to the cops until they told him that the owners did not “allow people to sleep there and asked him who gave him permission” to stay there for the night. Reinhold responded that “God” told him that he could stay there. Because they did not have an active “no trespassing letter” from the owners, the deputies were unable to make Reinhold leave and so they left. The back-and-forth lasted for about five minutes

The next day, Duran and Deputy Jonathan Israel were patrolling the area together and saw the same unsheltered man walking down the street. 

The two parked in a 7-11 and continued to watch him and Israel observed the man cross the street during a solid red hand signal, breaking the jaywalking law (Vehicle Code Section 21456 (c )).

Because Duran did not see the offense, he asked Israel to make sure he had “probable cause” to stop the man. The report does not say that Israel established probable cause, but Duran proceeded with stopping Reinhold.

He said to him, “Hey stop,” but Reinhold kept walking. Israel stepped in and met up with Reinhold and told him he was being arrested. Reinhold asked, “For what?” The deputy said he was being detained because he jaywalked.

Reinhold disputed the allegation and continued to walk away. Reinhold walked into the middle of the street, which the DA’s office marked as another violation (he was on a roadway other than the marked crosswalk).

The report notes how neither officer raised their voice at Reinhold during this time but was trying to get him out of a street. One witness said that both deputies were “trying to be nice,” but Reinhold turned and hit Israel and responded, “get off me, I did nothing wrong.”  

At one point the deputies were able to get Reinhold out of the street, but in his determination to get back he assaulted Israel, pushing him out of the way. In response to the shove, Duran grabbed Reinhold by his backpack and snatched him to the ground. As he fell, he grabbed Israel, which the DA identified as a “resisting by force” violation.

After falling, Israel said he felt his gun belt being tugged on and a rattling of his gun’s holster. He said he felt Reinhold’s hand pulling on his weapon. Israel shouted to Duran, “He’s got my gun!” The homeless man yelled in response, “I’m gonna get it.”

Duran says that he believed that Reinhold was going to kill him or his partner that day. He said, with his gun drawn, to Reinhold, “Drop it or I’ll shoot.” Israel continued to say that the man had his gun, so Duran shot him. The reports state that after the first shot, the man “continued to resist,” and Israel said, “He still got my gun, shoot him again!” Duran, on the word of his partner, shot a second round into the upper portion of the man’s chest. 

The video footage from a neighboring hotel showed Reinhold indeed reached for the gun and at one point grabbed “hold of Deputy Israel’s gun.”

According to the Washington Post, Assistant District Attorney Stephen McGreevy wrote that the investigation showed that “there is substantial evidence that [Duran’s] actions were reasonable and justified under the circumstances when he shot and killed Reinhold.”

Reinhold’s family contends that the account of that day’s events is not accurate and currently has a wrongful death lawsuit pending against Orange County. 

In this lawsuit, the Orange County Register reports, the family claims that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Homeless Outreach Team was/is “ill-equipped to deal with mentally ill subjects and disproportionately targets and detains persons of color in Orange County,” which is evident by the mishandling of their loved one by the deputies who are members of that unit.

In a statement from the family, they further allege that race played a factor in why the officers stopped their loved one, “This was a racially motivated stop aimed at harassing Mr. Reinhold, nothing more.” 

It continued, “The deputies’ escalating tactics — including having a Taser drawn and tackling Mr. Reinhold to the ground — directly contributed to the deputies’ unlawful use of deadly force against a man who was unarmed and had not committed a crime.”

The officers’ use of a Taser is not in the DA’s 10-page report.

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