Officers shoot man who slipped handcuffs, grabbed gun, police say

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SAN DIEGO — Officers shot a man after he slipped out of handcuffs, grabbed a gun from the back of a police SUV and fired the weapon at least once Sunday night, San Diego Police Department said.

The shooting happened around 8 p.m. outside SDPD headquarters. The man, who police said was 25 years old and Hispanic, was taken to a hospital for treatment but was expected to survive. No officers were hurt.

The incident started earlier Sunday evening when officers were called to a downtown hotel about a man allegedly “causing a disturbance” and threatening security workers. When police arrived, the man had already been “subdued” by security, SDPD said. Officers took the man into custody and drove him to headquarters for processing.

The man was sitting outside in the SUV alone when he slipped out of his cuffs, broke a divider between the backseat and a cargo area, and found a “secondary weapon” in one of the officer’s gear bags, police said. Officers heard the commotion and moved back toward the car, but when they saw the man was armed, they backed off.

The officers called to the man to drop the gun, but he kept holding on to the weapon and eventually “fired at least one round,” according to SDPD. It wasn’t immediately clear if the man shot directly at the officers.

Police opened fire, hitting the man at least three times in the torso. The man reached out the car window, opened the door and got out, running around to the rear cargo area as officers called for him to surrender, SDPD said.

At that point, a police dog was sent after the man. It took him down and bit him, giving officers time to finally arrest the man. “The male was still armed with the handgun at the time of his arrest,” SDPD said in their full news release about the incident Monday morning.

“Officers immediately began to address the male’s injuries and provided first aid until San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel arrived on the scene and continued treating him,” the official police account continues. He was eventually taken to the hospital.

The shooting comes at a time of increased scrutiny around police shootings and other law enforcement reform issues, spurred by the death of George Floyd and a national protest movement. SDPD promised a complete investigation by their homicide unit — which is standard in all police shootings — and several other agencies.

“The investigation and review process for an officer-involved shooting is extremely thorough,” the department news release states. “When the Homicide Unit completes their investigation, it will be reviewed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to determine if the officers bear any criminal liability for their actions.”

The SDPD Internal Affairs Unit will conduct an investigation and the Community Review Board on Police Practices will also review the incident, the department said.

The man’s identity was not released, but investigators confirmed he is a San Diego resident.

“The names of the officers involved in this incident are not being released at this time, but they have been with the department for 8 years, 6 years and 10 months, respectively,” SDPD said.

In a police shooting on June 27, SDPD promptly released surveillance and body camera videos showing what led up to the gunfire, drawing praise from some local activists for the department’s transparency.

It was not initially clear if videos or images of the incident were captured or would be released.

Anyone with information about the shooting or what led up to the arrest was asked to call the Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

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