SDPD Identifies Man Shot By Officers, Releases Bodycam Video
KPBS Midday Edition Segments / June 29, 2020
The shooting victim is 25-year-old San Diego resident Leonardo Hurtado Ibarra who officers recognized from a wanted poster, according to a police statement. He is in a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Speaker 1: 00:01 San Diego police officers on Saturday confronted a man on a downtown street seconds. Later, he was shot and he remains hospitalized in critical condition that prompted about 100 people to March and protest on Sunday, demanding that police released video of the shooting, which they promptly did. KPBS reporter max Rivlin, Nadler covered the story and he joins me now. Max welcome. Hi, we'll start with the confrontation. The San Diego police department says two officers saw, man. They recognized as a suspect in a robbery. They approached them on sixth Avenue. What do we know so far about what happened?
Speaker 2: 00:38 So the officers say they approached him because they recognize some facial tattoos from a suspect, uh, of a, of a recent robbery. We really don't know anything about the kind of underlying crime that they were investigating here. They haven't released much. Um, but what we do know is within less than 30 seconds of encountering this individual outside of a supportive housing development on B street, um, they shot him multiple times. Uh, this sparked, uh, an outcry among people who have been paying attention really closely over the past few weeks and months to police use of force. And whether this use of force was justified,
Speaker 1: 01:13 The, uh, police narrative, um, some of the details released so far, um, of course, uh, are buttressed by this video, which we'll get to in a moment. I did want to note the suspect was identified as 25 year old, Leonardo Hurtado, a Barra. If I'm saying that correctly, the police say he's a suspected robbery suspect is as we noted, uh, do they, uh, have they confirmed whether he's the person they were looking for? Why were they so, uh, sure. At the scene that he was this, uh, suspect?
Speaker 2: 01:42 Yeah, we really don't know. They obviously based this off of facial tattoos he had, but as you can see in the video that was then released, it's really, he's exiting the building and within seconds the police officers are approaching him. Um, and that is when he begins to walk away from them. He drops one bag and then he reaches a, this is according to the surveillance footage and the body camera footage. He reaches into his waistband, grabs it, something points that object at one of the officers. And then, um, you know, it appears from the body camera footage. That's what they used to, um, base their leave, possibly lethal force off of, um, in shooting out him multiple times, uh, in, in quick succession. And it all happened, him leaving the building, the police officers approaching him and him being shot all happened in less than 20 seconds.
Speaker 1: 02:28 Now, does it appear that he heard them when the, uh, the police say that he said, we want to talk to you, stop, stop, stop. Did the video show that he, you heard them and turned and recognize that?
Speaker 2: 02:39 Well, it seems as though he's evading them, right? He's, he's walking away from them, which is, you know, something that people noted from video taken directly after that, it appears that he's shot in the back as he's looking away. But there were two officers that approached him, one coming from the street and the other coming from the sidewalk, both of them fired at him, but he was looking at the one, uh, it appears from the body camera footage. He was looking at the officer who was in the street.
Speaker 1: 03:03 And, uh, the police say that what he pulled from his waistband was a revolver. It was a gun,
Speaker 2: 03:09 Right? So, you know, in the moments and minutes and hours after the shooting, um, people really latched onto the fact that police officers clearly did have video surveillance of the event, but they were only putting out still images from this event. So they just put out a kind of a grainy photo of him in a kind of pointing at an officer at Barra, pointing out an officer, and then they put out the photos of the gun. But between that, that left, uh, people who are really paying very close attention to police use of force asking questions as to, okay, well, if you have this evidence released the full body camera footage released the surveillance footage, cause there's, they've seen in previous instances of uses of force, um, you know, what the police and law enforcement like to control the narrative in kind of releasing things in drips and drabs. What it does is it cements a media narrative. So people were really aware that, okay, if you have this evidence, there's really no reason for you not to release it immediately. So we could see if this was a quote unquote legitimate use of force
Speaker 1: 04:10 And they did release them. And that's pretty unusual to do it that quickly. Is it not?
Speaker 2: 04:14 Yeah, no. For years the law enforcement nationwide, not just San Diego has dragged its feet over releasing body camera footage, releasing surveillance footage, um, quickly, and then kind of, you know, letting people see and decide for themselves, whether police were justified in their actions, you know, in the Alfreda Longo shooting, you know, for a while, there was just one image that the police were kind of showing in one angle of the shooting and this became a rallying cry for people release the body camera footage, let us see. And I spoke with activists and advocates at the protest on Saturday night, just hours after the shooting. And they were really saying, you know, listen, if there is something here that we're not seeing, that we, we can't tell from eyewitness accounts, you should release that. So we know what happened and sure enough, within 24 hours, which is highly unusual for the San Diego police department they had done. So what's gonna be interesting looking forward is whether this kind of new standard is applied across the board, even in instances of use of force that aren't so clear cut, that maybe don't involve a gun found on the person that was shot.
Speaker 1: 05:21 And it probably depends on the videos themselves. Some are much clearer than others and any neutral observer, uh, you know, can come away with different responses depending on that. Now, what was the protestors response to police re releasing the video and preliminary information on the shooting?
Speaker 2: 05:38 Right? So the calls for transparency were met. Um, ultimately people kind of applauded that decision. I think a lot of people looked at the kind of quick use of force here, wondered how, you know, w they could approach instances in the future where somebody doesn't have to, um, be, you know, essentially nearly wounded what other steps could be taken. Um, this individual, according to the body camera footage did appear to have a gun. And that's a situation where police officers are much more justified to in advocates, eyes to use lethal force. But then again, you know, what was the reason why they were approaching this guy? And could there have been a way that didn't immediately escalate into this type of situation,
Speaker 1: 06:20 Right. And the police so far there, their statement has been that this was a robbery, which of course is a violent felony. And that's why they were, we're fairly certain based on the flyer that this was their suspect, right?
Speaker 2: 06:33 Yeah, yeah, no, they haven't released much information about this. I think that has to do with the very serious condition this individual is in, right. They, you can't really press charges against somebody if they're incapable of, of standing trial, um, and, and kind of, uh, cognizant of the charges against them. So, um, they're playing a very close to the vest right now. I'm sure there's going to be a very large investigation over this, uh, by the district attorney's office, by San Diego police departments, own internal investigators, um, the FBI and the U S attorney's got to look at this. Um, but, but it will be interesting again, to see, to use this as a yard stick in situations that are much less clear, let's say body camera footage comes at night. Let's say there was a, this didn't happen downtown, where there are these streetlight cameras that have been quite controversial. Um, it'll be interesting to see moving forward if this is the new standard applied. And especially because this happened on a Saturday evening and the video was released by Sunday, um, over a weekend. So there's no reason moving forward where you could say, well, the office was shut down. We couldn't get in touch with our legal department. Um, this was very quick,
Speaker 1: 07:37 Right? Interesting precedent. And we should note the two officers involved are on administrative leave now. And that's a matter of a department policy.
Speaker 2: 07:45 Yeah. That happens. If there's a shooting, the, um, officers until the investigation runs, its course are no longer on patrol.
Speaker 1: 07:53 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter max and Natalie. Thanks, max.
Speaker 2: 07:57 Thank you.