A San Bernardino, California, police officer is off the force more than a year after he fatally shot a man who was walking toward officers with his hands in the air after he obeyed commands to put down a gun he was holding.
The San Bernardino Police Department released police body camera footage, audio of 911 calls and information regarding the Sept. 28, 2018, shooting that led to the death of Richard John Sanchez.
In the video, released Friday, acting chief of police Eric McBride said that Brandon Gaddie, the officer who fired the fatal shots, no longer works for the department following an internal investigation.
McBride said the review determined Gaddie’s “decision making did not meet the standards held by our department or the community we serve” and “disciplinary action has been initiated,” but he did not say whether the officer had been fired or had resigned.
The San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, is now investigating the shooting to determine whether or not Gaddie’s actions were lawful, McBride said.
Gaddie and another officer responded to a home in the Highlands neighborhood of San Bernardino after 10 p.m. Sept. 28 when a woman called 911 saying Sanchez was intoxicated and threatening family members, McBride said. She called back minutes later to report Sanchez was armed and she had escaped the home with children, but Sanchez was still threatening others in the home.
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“Family members and witnesses describe Sanchez as intoxicated and making irrational statements such as he had everybody under his control because he was God,” McBride said.
The dispatcher quickly determined that there was a warrant out for Sanchez’s arrest, and informed the responding officers. Sanchez had made terrorist threats during a domestic dispute while he was armed with a handgun months earlier, McBride said.
Body camera video shows that when the officers arrived, the front door was open, and Sanchez was standing in the entryway holding a gun. Police order Sanchez to put the handgun down, which he does not immediately do. But after turning around to face the officers, he places it on the arm of a couch.
Then, Sanchez “suddenly, and without being told to do so” starts to walk toward the officers, McBride said, and the video shows. He takes eight steps as the officers order him to put his hands up. He does, but he also keeps walking toward them.
Gaddie then shoots at Sanchez five times. Sanchez is seen falling to the ground on the front lawn.
The officers called for medics, but Sanchez died. A Smith & Wesson .40 caliber handgun was recovered at the scene, according to police.
The officer who was with Gaddie at the time of the shooting is still on the job, McBride said.
“Each encounter is unique and requires officers to make split-second decisions without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight,” he added. “However, despite the challenges faced by officers, we want to reassure the community that we will not compromise our standards and will continually strive to provide the best possible service to all the residents of San Bernardino.”
Attorney Brian Dunn, who is representing the Sanchez family, said in a statement that while his clients are still “overcome with grief over the sudden and unexpected loss of their beloved husband, brother, father, and son,” they are “honored and encouraged by the swift acceptance of responsibility by the leadership of the San Bernardino Police Department.”
“The San Bernardino Police Department has demonstrated a model of transparency in which the Sanchez family hopes is emulated by police departments facing similar incidents nationwide,” Dunn said.