Assailant Pulled Replica Gun In Fatal San Diego Police Shooting
In a press conference Wednesday, San Diego Police Capt. David Nisleit said the gun that prompted officers to fatally shoot an assailant in the Gaslamp District Tuesday was fake. He said it was a realistic-looking replica.
The officers involved in the shooting did not activate their uniform-worn cameras before or during the encounter. Department procedure is to turn them on prior to arriving on the scene.
The two officers involved told investigators they did not have time to turn on the cameras.
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman came to the defense of the officers at the press conference.
"I want everybody to — this was a rapidly evolving and dynamic situation,'' Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said that the officers did not violate the camera policy, since the rule states that officer- and public- safety concerns trump the use of the devices.
Officers in the field inevitably will find themselves unable to turn on the cameras in some volatile situations, such as suddenly "facing the barrel of a gun," the chief told news crews at downtown SDPD headquarters.
Nonetheless, department officials will review the policy with a mind toward possible improvements, Zimmerman said. One such change possibly could involve a design change that allows for automatic activation of the cameras under certain circumstances, such as removal of an officer's gun from its holster, she said.
The press conference was called after two motorcycle officers shot a man, fatally wounding him, when he allegedly pulled a gun on them as they chased him through downtown San Diego Tuesday afternoon.
Lamontez Jones, 39, who was later found to be the subject of an outstanding armed robbery warrant out of Virginia, bolted when one of the officers tried to contact him about making a disturbance and interfering with traffic near Horton Plaza about 2 p.m., according to San Diego police.
The man ran to the south on Sixth Avenue, ignoring repeated orders to halt, Nisleit told reporters. Reaching F Street, the suspect allegedly turned toward his pursuers and pulled a pistol out of his waistband.
Fearing for their lives, the officers opened fire on the man, who fell onto the roadway, Nisleit said. He then began to sit up and raise the weapon again, prompting them to shoot him again.
Medics took the man to UCSD Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Police shut down the intersection where the shooting occurred along with nearby traffic lanes to allow detectives to gather evidence.
One of the officers has been with the SDPD for 30 years and the other for 25 years, police said.
Virginia authorities had warned that he should be considered armed and dangerous, police said, but that was apparently unknown to the officers at the time of the shooting.
In September San Diego police officers fatally shot a San Ysidro man wielding a replica pistol. And in May Chief Zimmerman amended her body camera policy after an officer failed to activate his camera before fatally shooting 42-year-old Fridoon Zalbeg Rawshannehad in the Sports Arena area.