DA justifies Upland PD shooting of Christian Rodriguez, 18

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Once again, Mike Ramos has uncritically accepted the version of events presented by a police department whose reports and evidence he depends on to prosecute cases and has ruled that the shooting of an young unarmed brown man was justified. Could this have anything to do with the fact that the victim survived, has retained counsel, and is currently suing the department and the city?


Upland police officers ruled justified in non-fatal shooting
By Melissa Pinion-Whitt, San Bernardino Sun
POSTED: 06/12/14, 9:56 AM PDT | 0 COMMENTS
UPLAND >> Two police officers who shot and wounded a man with bipolar disorder in March 2013 were found Thursday by prosecutors to be justified in their actions because police believed the man was armed with a gun.

Christian Rodriguez, 18 at the time, tried to break into a home and approached officers while holding an object that police suspected was a firearm, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said. The item was later determined to be a flower pot fragment.

“If he had escaped the officers’ attempt to subdue him when they did, there was a risk that a major ongoing threat to the community existed. One officer feared a hostage situation or other life-threatening situation could have emerged,” prosecutors wrote in a report.

Rodriguez filed a lawsuit against the city in April, claiming the shooting was unjustified and that police used excessive force.

“At no point did (Rodriguez) ever possess, brandish or threaten the officer with a firearm or weapon of any kind,” according to the suit.

The incident began March 19, 2013, when Rodriguez approached Upland police Sgt. Mark Simpson at Greenbelt Park at 15th Street and Fairwood Way. The officer saw him carrying what he thought was a gun, authorities said.

“From about three feet away, the man said, ‘Do you know the truth about the world? I want to know the truth about the world,’” the report said.

Rodriguez fled and the officer reported the encounter over the radio.

Police then received a call from a homeowner that a man tried to break a sliding glass window to get into a home.

Officers spotted Rodriguez on West Orchard Circle. They commanded Rodriguez to drop an item he was holding, but he declined, authorities said.

Officer Craig Sipple fired one shot at Rodriguez.

Officers continued to order him to show his hands, but prosecutors said Rodriguez reached for an item in his waistband. They later determined the item was a notebook. He refused to get on the ground.

Officer Nicholas Peelman fired a Taser gun at Rodriguez, causing him to fall onto his back. Peelman saw a black object in the man’s waistband, causing him to drop the Taser and grab his gun, prosecutors said.

Both Peelman and Sipple opened fire, wounding Rodriguez another nine times.

Rodriguez initially showed officers his hands, but then stood up again and approached Upland police Officer John Bonhus.

“Rodriguez was screaming bizarre statements about God and the devil. Based on his training and experience, Bonhus deduced that this suspect was either under the influence of drugs or mentally ill,” attorneys said.

Bonhus struck Rodriguez with his baton until the other officers came to his aid and Rodriguez was taken into custody.