According to Orange County, Calif. prosecutors, sheriff Deputy Eduardo Duran won’t be facing criminal charges for fatally shooting an unarmed homeless Black man, Kurt Andreas Reinhold, on Sept. 23, 2020.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said that Duran was justified in killing the 42-year-old, reported The Orange County Register. Deputies stopped Reinhold on suspicion of jaywalking in San Clemente before being fatally shot.
The head of the office’s homicide unit, Steve McGreevy, sent 20-page a letter to Sheriff Don Barnes outlining their investigation.
“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,” he wrote. He also said that the victim wasn’t jaywalking, but he crossed an intersection at a red light, which gave authorities the right to reprimand him.
Lawyers for the Reinhold family reportedly said they were disappointed yet, not surprised by the prosecutors’ decision.
A 12-minute dashcam video showed officers Duran and Jonathan Israel following the homeless man in their police vehicle before stopping him on suspicion that he jaywalked. They were on patrol around 1:30 p.m. when they saw Reinhold walking at an intersection in the 2200 block of South El Camino Real.
Duran and Israel got out of their car and told Reinhold to stop, but he allegedly ignored their orders and kept walking. Then, he got into a confrontation with the two deputies, was wrestled to the ground, and was shot by Duran after allegedly grabbing Israel’s gun holster.
In a statement released on Friday, Feb. 11, Reinhold’s family said the letter by the District Attorney’s office confirmed that the pair had no valid reason to stop their loved one. They filed a claim for wrongful death against Orange County in December 2020.
“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 statement said. “This was a racially motivated stop aimed at harassing Mr. Reinhold, nothing more. 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.”
A lawyer representing the victim’s widow, Latoya Reinhold, John Taylor, said, “These officers are supposedly trained to deal with the homeless. They needed to deescalate the situation rather than escalate it.”
The two officers were part of their department’s homeless outreach program.