Orange County sheriff’s deputies debated whether to stop a homeless man with mental health issues for jaywalking last year before shooting and killing him during a struggle, according to newly released video footage.
The Sept. 23 death of 42-year-old Kurt Reinhold, who was Black, touched off protests and a lawsuit alleging that his race played a role in the confrontation.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday released a “critical incident” briefing video that included footage from a patrol car camera and a motel security camera along with previously released video from a witness’s cellphone.
Reinhold was stopped in San Clemente by two deputies assigned to homeless outreach. They spotted Reinhold while sitting in their patrol car. He apparently spotted them and began walking.
In audio from microphones worn by the deputies, one tells the other: “Okey-doke. He’s seen ya. He’s seen ya, copper.”
A moment later, one deputy says: “Watch this. He’s going to jaywalk” and adds: “There we go.” ‘It’s controlled, man,“ the deputy says, meaning the crossing has traffic signs or signals.
“I don’t know, dude,” the other deputy replies doubtfully.
“It is,” his partner insists and a moment later tells him: “Don’t make case law.”
“It’s not case law,” the deputy replies.
The cruiser then pulls up to Reinhold, whom the deputies want to identify, as he stands on the sidewalk. He apparently begins to walk away, and the deputies order him to stop.
“Are you going to stop or are we going to have to make you stop?” one deputy says.
“For what? For what?” Reinhold replies.
When Reinhold is told he is being stopped for jaywalking and resisting arrest, he replies: “That’s ridiculous.”
The confrontation escalates with the agitated Reinhold repeatedly telling a deputy who puts out a hand to stop him: “Stop touching me.”
The witness cellphone video shows Reinhold trying to walk as a deputy tries to halt him and push him back to the sidewalk. Reinhold shoves back, and the deputies grab him. All three fall to the ground, struggling.
On the witness video, a deputy is heard yelling several times: “He’s got my gun!” Two shots are then heard.
In a close-up of footage from one video, Reinhold appears to grab at a deputy’s gun or holster, but his family has said he was simply flailing. Although a deputy performed CPR, Reinhold died at the scene. Reinhold’s family is suing the county for wrongful death.
A statement from the family released through their attorney Thursday said the new video confirmed that the deputies “had no reason” to stop Reinhold and said the officers are heard disagreeing about whether he had jaywalked. The deputies “created and escalated” the confrontation, attorney John Taylor said in the statement.
“Mr. Reinhold wasn’t in distress and didn’t pose any danger to himself or anyone else,” Taylor said. “If he wasn’t a Black man, this stop never would’ve happened, let alone the shooting that takes his life.” The shooting remained under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department and the county district attorney’s office.