Riverside County Sheriff releases body cam footage taken before deputy shot man in Coachella
The Riverside County Sheriff's Office has released body cam and surveillance camera footage it says was taken of a January deputy-involved shooting in Coachella during which a 19-year-old man died. The footage, however, does not show the shooting.
The shooting occurred around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, the Sheriff's Department said later that night. A sheriff's department spokesperson said the encounter began when deputies pulled a vehicle over near the intersection of Cesar Chavez Street and Avenue 52 and a man fled on foot. The man was later identified as 19-year-old Daniel Alfonso Perez-Comunidad.
Perez-Comunidad eventually fired at the deputy, hitting him in his bulletproof vest, according to the sheriff's department. The deputy then fired at Perez-Comunidad, killing him.
The footage released on Facebook in a roughly five-minute video includes commentary from Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco.
Bianco said in the video that a black Jeep Cherokee pulled into a gas station after deputies indicated for it to pull over. A driver and passenger then got out of the car and "began walking away from both deputies," Bianco said.
A deputy detained the driver but the passenger, later identified as Perez-Comunidad, began to run away, Bianco said. A second deputy gave commands to Perez-Comunidad to stop running but he kept going.
The deputy then chased Perez-Comunidad across Cesar Chavez Street and into an alley near Cairo Street, Bianco said. Once in the alley, the deputy caught up with Perez-Comunidad, who Bianco said resisted the deputies commands. A physical altercation then occurred, Bianco said.
"While in a physical altercation on the ground, the deputy's body-worn camera was broken off his uniform and fell nearby, disabling it," he said. "During the struggle, Daniel was able to remove a handgun he was carrying and shot the deputy at close range."
Bianco said that one of the rounds hit the deputy near the chest, but the impact was absorbed by the deputy's bulletproof vest and prevented him from sustaining significant injury.
The body camera footage begins with a vibrating camera as the deputy appears to be running across a parking lot and street. A person can be heard yelling "stop" and "get on your stomach" twice each. Sounds of struggle can be heard and the speaker then says "I'm physical in the alley behind Pasa." The released footage ends with the voice yelling "get on your stomach" again.
The surveillance footage, which Bianco said was filmed by a camera in a local strip mall and is about 20 seconds in length, shows a person running across a street and into a parking lot while being chased by a deputy. Both people then run out of the frame.
Bianco also said in the video that numerous spent shell casings were located at the scene, indicating Perez-Comunidad fired from a .45 caliber semi automatic handgun. That gun was in his possession at the scene, he said. A picture of that gun and those casings is shown in the video.
The shooting is being investigated by the Sheriff's Department's Force Investigations Detail Taskforce.
Bianco said the investigation will examine the initial response of deputies, Perez-Comunidad's actions and the deputy-involved shooting. The shooting also will be reviewed by the Riverside County District Attorney's office and through an internal sheriff's department investigation that will evaluate the deputy's actions against department policies.
"We take each use of force very seriously and make every effort to deescalate these situations whenever possible," Bianco said. "While this remains an active and ongoing investigation, we feel it is important to release these videos and provide our community with as much information as possible as soon as we can."
The full video can be viewed on the Riverside County Sheriff's Department at www.facebook.com/RCSD.Official/. The name of the deputy who shot Perez-Comunidad has not been released.