Watch: DA Clears California Cop Who Shot And Killed Homeless Black Man Who Was Jaywalking


The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has determined that an Orange County sheriff’s deputy was justified in shooting and killing a homeless Black man who deputies stopped on suspicion of jaywalking in San Clemente.

DA officials cleared Deputy Eduardo Duran of criminal wrongdoing in the Sept. 23, 2020, killing of 42-year-old Kurt Andreas Reinhold, according to a letter to Sheriff Don Barnes publicly released Friday outlining the results of an investigation into the fatal shooting that led to community protests in San Clemente.

DA’s Office officials, as well as Sheriff’s Department leaders, say Reinhold was reaching for a deputy’s gun while struggling with Duran and his partner.

“Based on the totality of all the available evidence, it is clear that Deputy Duran was justified in believing Reinhold posed a significant threat of death or serious injury to his partner, himself, and the surrounding civilians,” wrote Steve McGreevy, an assistant district attorney and head of the office’s homicide unit.

Neil Gehlawat, one of the attorneys representing Reinhold’s family, said the DA’s Office report is “disappointing but not surprising.” He described the police stop as “racially motivated,” saying the deputies had no reason to detain Reinhold in the first place.

“He could have just continued on his day and they could have continued on their day,” Gehlawat said. “There was no reason for it to get to that level.”

Duran and his partner, Deputy Jonathan Israel, were both homeless liaison officers. According to video from their police vehicle, Israel, just before 1:15 p.m., spotted Reinhold walking toward an intersection in the 2200 block of South El Camino Real, telling his partner, “Watch this, this is a jaywalk” moments before Reinhold walked across the street.

That video does not show any moving vehicle in or near the intersection when Reinhold enters it.

As Israel drove toward Reinhold, Duran can be heard cautioning, “Don’t make case law, Gabriel,” a comment he later explained to investigators by saying he didn’t see Reinhold’s actions at the intersection and wanted to make sure Israel had probable cause to stop Reinhold.

One of the deputies can be heard on the dashboard video initially asking Reinhold, “What’s going on, man? How are you doing? Where are you going?”

“You going to stop, or do we have to make you stop?” Israel is heard telling Reinhold.

“For what? I’m walking,” Reinhold replies.

“For jaywalking” Israel says.

“What are you talking about? I’m walking,” Reinhold is heard telling the deputy.

A bystander began filming the encounter, as the deputies repeatedly told Reinhold to stop and he repeatedly told them to stop touching him, at one point saying, “Get off me, I did nothing wrong.” After several minutes, Deputy Duran is seen grabbing Reinhold by his backpack and taking him to the ground.

According to the DA’s Office letter, Reinhold grabbed Israel and landed on top of him. During the ensuing struggle, Israel told investigators that he felt his gun belt being pulled and the rattling of his gun in its holster, followed by what he believed to be Reinhold getting a grip on the pistol and pulling it.

“He’s got my gun!” Israel can be heard yelling multiple times in the bystander video, followed by a gunshot, a pause, and a second gunshot. Reinhold was struck twice in his upper torso, according to the letter.

Surveillance footage from a nearby hotel, screengrabs of which had been previously released by Sheriff Barnes, appear to show one of Reinhold’s hands moving toward the deputy’s weapon. Reinhold’s family has said he was flailing his arms while on the ground, not reaching for the pistol.

Reinhold was correct in that he hadn’t been jaywalking, according to the DA’s Office letter. But prosecutors say Reinhold had crossed an intersection against a red light, giving the deputies justification to contact him.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Reinhold’s family described the acknowledgment that Reinhold was not jaywalking as being the “most important takeaway” from the letter by the DA’s Office.

“This conclusion from the report confirms what we have been saying since day one – Deputies Israel and Duran had no reason whatsoever to stop Mr. Reinhold,” the family statement read.

“This was a racially motivated stop aimed at harassing Mr. Reinhold, nothing more,” it said. “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.”

Reinhold’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Homeless Outreach Team is “ill-equipped to deal with mentally ill subjects and disproportionally targets and detains persons of color in Orange County.”

His family has said that Reinhold suffered from mental illness and at times didn’t stay on his medication. He would stay in various parts of the state, the family has said and had been in San Clemente for about 30 days before he was killed.