Shooting of Homeless Man by OC Deputies in San Clemente Sparks Protest

By Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley
Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.
September 25, 2020Updated: September 25, 2020

The shooting of a homeless black man in San Clemente on Sept. 23 by Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies sparked a protest at the scene of the incident the following day.

Kurt Andras Reinhold, 42, was killed after two deputies from the department’s homeless outreach team contacted him outside of the Hotel Miramar, located at El Camino Real and Avenida San Gabriel, at around 1:12 p.m.

The meeting escalated into a physical altercation, during which the subject attempted to gain control of a deputy’s gun, according to an OCSD press release.

Surveillance footage shows the subject grabbing for the deputy’s weapon prior to being shot, the release states.

The other deputy pulled his gun and shot Reinhold. The deputies immediately began CPR, but to no avail. The subject was pronounced deceased at the scene by fire personnel.

The autopsy has not been conducted yet to determine if the subject was under the influence of any substances.

Carrie Braun, OCSD director of public affairs, told The Epoch Times that a protest took place on the morning of Sept. 24 in front of the Hotel Miramar. She said further protests were expected.

In anticipation, the San Clemente City Council called an emergency meeting on Sept. 24 and implemented a curfew for significant parts of the city, including the site of the incident and the downtown core. The curfew began at 9 p.m. and was scheduled to end at 6 a.m. on Sept. 25.

The Sept. 24 morning gathering turned unruly when protesters tried to take over the street in front of Hotel Miramar around 10 a.m. Four people were taken into custody for disorderly conduct, and one was arrested for vandalism.

About 40 to 50 protesters were acting “peacefully” when a handful stepped out into the road, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said at a news conference on the afternoon of Sept. 24.

“Those who refused to get out of the street were arrested,” Barnes said, noting that one of the suspects is accused of scratching a patrol car.

Barnes said that “it is vitally important that we reserve judgment until a full and complete investigation has been completed by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.”

“Given the current climate of police community relations nationwide, I can understand the conversation we are seeing around the incident,” he said.

“We will protect the First Amendment rights of those who want to publicly mourn Mr. Reinhold. What we as a community should not tolerate is commentary or action that serves to divide, create mistrust, or cause harm.

“Spreading rumors and misinformation about the identity of the decedent or the reason he was contacted by deputies is irresponsible and dangerous. It serves to inflame and drive an anti-police narrative, and is not indicative of the factual information regarding this singular incident.”

Braun agreed with Barnes, adding, “We absolutely are here to protect the First Amendment rights of anyone in the community to come out and peaceably have their voice heard, in relation to any topic. Law enforcement really depends on the trust of the community to provide effective law enforcement services.”

Barnes did not go into detail as to what prompted the deputies, one an eight-year veteran and the other a 13-year veteran of the department, to contact Reinhold. He said the deputies have not yet been interviewed.

Reinhold was homeless and had been in the area for about 30 days, Barnes said. Deputies had previously reached out to Reinhold, whose last known address was in Los Angeles, to try to help him get into a shelter, but he rebuffed the offers of help, the sheriff said.

The department’s homeless outreach team includes three sergeants and 33 deputies, and they are all trained on de-escalating conflict and how to interact with the mentally ill, Barnes said.

“I want to extend my condolences to Mr. Reinhold’s family,” he said. “We are truly sorry about what happened.”

According to Sgt. Dennis Breckner, the surveillance video that shows Reinhold attempting to grab a weapon from one of the deputies comes from a nearby business.

Barnes said one of the two deputies was heard four times saying, “He’s got my gun,” but said it’s unclear whether Reinhold managed to get the deputy’s weapon out of its holster.

One of the two deputies fired twice at Reinhold, who died at the scene, Barnes said.

Barnes implored the media and the public to refrain from speculation and to let the investigative process play out. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will conduct the investigation, which is routine in deputy-involved incidents.

“We will conduct, as we always do, a major incident, a critical incident review,” Barnes said. “And we will do so as transparent as the law allows us to be, and make sure that we are forthright in bringing the facts forward.”


City News Service contributed to this report.