‘This is like a classic hostage situation’: Police release videos from standoff shooting

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SAN DIEGO — Police released body camera and helicopter video Thursday from a chase and lengthy standoff at San Diego High School that ended with SWAT officers killing an armed fugitive.

The chase started April 12 in National City where officers say they tried to pull over a car containing 36-year-old Christopher Marquez, a wanted man who was already accused of several violent brushes with law enforcement and bounty hunters.

It ended the next morning, with SWAT officers taking the shot and killing Marquez as he hid in a dumpster following an 11-hour standoff at the school. Marquez had been hiding out in the trash bin with a woman who police say was crying and trying to escape.

In a video produced by San Diego Police Department, body camera clips capture officers discussing the standoff as Marquez crouched in the dumpster and crisis negotiators tried to get him to surrender.

“This is like a classic hostage situation from what we’re seeing up here,” one officer said. “She’s crying every time she tries to get up; he keeps pulling her down.”

Authorities can also be heard discussing Marquez’s weapons. According to police, at some point during the 11-hour negotiation the fugitive agreed to exchange a handgun for a bottle of water, but kept a second weapon — a rifle — with him throughout.

“Zero doubt that he’s got a gun in his right hand,” an officer can be heard saying as they watch Marquez from an upper-story window in one of the school buildings nearby.

According to SDPD’s account, Marquez could then be seen “maneuvering the rifle towards the woman.” The video released Thursday provides audio of her screaming and officers’ comments immediately before the fatal shooting, but no view of the dumpster.

“He’s holding her, holding her back,” an officer says, as the woman yells out in the distance. “Oh, I see a gun. I got a gun.”

Moments later, he says: “I’m gonna take the shot.” Gunshots can be heard, and a short time later the officer says, “He’s down, he’s down.” According to police, two SWAT officers fired simultaneously, killing Marquez.

On screen, viewers can see only a fixed view of a window. A screen gusts forward as the gunshots go off. SDPD states that both SWAT officers in the building had their body cameras activated, but “neither camera provided a clear view” of the dumpster itself.

Video then shows flash bangs going off as a SWAT officer on the ground runs up to the dumpster to check for Marquez. The woman climbs out and surrenders to approaching officers, one of whom helps her down from the dumpster.

The woman, who was later identified by authorities as Marquez’s girlfriend, was unharmed in the police shooting. She was later arrested on suspicion of vehicle theft and accused of helping Marquez during the weeks he was on the run.

In the video released Thursday, police also describe their efforts to negotiate with the pair.

“The assistance of the SDPD Emergency Negotiations Team and the SDPD SWAT Team were requested,” the statement reads. “Negotiations with Mr. Marquez and the woman continued for 11 hours.”

The video also contains helicopter surveillance clips, showing the couple’s car streak along side streets as a dispatcher updates officers on their position. After the vehicle pulls up to the school, the couple can be seen hiding in the bushes before moving to the campus dumpster. A still image pulled from the aerial video appears to show Marquez holding the rifle as he hops a fence.

At the end of the video release, the department says that SDPD’s homicide unit report on the police shooting will be reviewed by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office to “determine if the officers bear any criminal liability.”

An internal affairs unit will investigate for any policy violations, and a shooting review board will also evaluate the officers’ conduct.

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