The family of Kurt Andras Reinhold, a homeless Black man who was fatally shot by a Sheriff’s deputy in San Clemente last month, filed a wrongful death claim on Tuesday, Oct. 6 against the county and the two deputies involved in the incident.
Reinhold, 42, was shot after a fight broke out between him and two deputies with the homeless outreach team in front of Hotel Miramar on El Camino Real on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Officials with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department have said that Reinhold was attempting to gain control of one of the deputy’s guns when the shooting occurred.
The claim – a potential precursor to a lawsuit – was filed with the Orange County Clerk of the Board of Supervisors’ Office in Santa Ana, on behalf of Reinhold’s wife of 12 years, Latoya Reinhold, and their two children. Lawyers for the family announced the claim at a Tuesday morning press conference with Reinhold’s wife, mother, sister and other family members in front of the courthouse.
“These officers are supposedly trained to deal with people who are homeless or experiencing some sort of emotional problem,” said John Taylor, a lawyer for the Reinhold family. “How do we get to Kurt ending up on the ground, being jumped by the two officers, and end up being killed?”
Taylor said he believes Reinhold was initially stopped for jaywalking that day, but the Sheriff’s Department has not yet confirmed why officers stopped him.
“What led to the initial contact with the deputies is part of the ongoing investigation,” Sheriff Don Barnes said in a Tuesday statement. “During the physical altercation, Mr. Reinhold grabbed one of the deputy’s guns.”
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is investigating Reinhold’s death, a routine process for law enforcement shootings.
The shooting sparked demonstrations in San Clemente, with protesters asking for the firing and arrest of the deputies. Tensions between communities of color and law enforcement were already tense the day of Reinhold’s death, as other protests in the nation unfolded following news of what many felt were insufficient charges involving the deadly police shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.
The majority of protests in San Clemente were peaceful, but the city declared a curfew for one day. One person was arrested for vandalism and four others were taken into custody for disorderly conduct.
At the news conference Tuesday, the lawyer for the Reinhold family argued that deputies that day escalated the situation at “every step,” including supposedly putting hands on Reinhold first and eventually tackling him to the ground.
In a press conference shortly after the shooting, Barnes said that de-escalation goes both ways and requires both parties to be engaged in and interested in de-escalating the situation.
Taylor also said that a picture released by the Sheriff’s Department allegedly showing Reinhold reaching for the deputy’s gun was misleading, because Reinhold was struggling as he was on the ground and flailing his arms out. The picture is just a snippet where Reinhold’s hand was “incidentally” near the weapon, he said, and it would have been extremely difficult for him to successfully grab the weapon while on the ground with deputies on top of him.
Reinhold’s mother, Judy Reinhold, could be seen crying as lawyers talked about what led up to her son’s death.
“None of this makes any sense, it’s a nightmare I’m living with each and every day,” Latoya Reinhold said.
Reinhold enjoyed sports and hiking in the outdoors, in addition to coaching his son’s soccer team, Latoya Reinhold said. The couple has a daughter, 8, and a son, 7, according to Taylor.
Reinhold suffered from mental illness and for approximately the past two years had periods of time when he would have issues, Taylor said. Reinhold was on medication, but like many who suffer from mental illness, had some complications in staying on the medication, he said.
Reinhold held various jobs over the years but was recently not working, Taylor said. He would stay in various places in the state, but his family is based in the Los Angeles area.
Reinhold had been in San Clemente for about 30 days before he was killed, Taylor and Sheriff’s Department officials have said. Officers with the homeless outreach team had made contact with him on multiple occasions to try to give him resources, but he turned them down, Barnes said earlier.
In addition to unspecified financial damages, Neil Gehlawat, another lawyer for the Reinhold family, said the family wants transparency and justice.
That includes the full autopsy report, the report prepared by the Sheriff’s Department on the shooting, the names of the deputies involved to request their personnel files to learn if they were involved in previous use-of-force incidents, the entire footage of the incident and all radio traffic to see why Reinhold was stopped in the first place, Gehlawat said.
Source: Orange County Register