Video footage shows officer shooting parolee near Twentynine Palms casino
Monday 30th November 2020
A parolee running from authorities was shot from behind by a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy after the man picked up a rock and pretended to hurl it before turning and fleeing again, according to a news report Monday.
A security camera at a casino near Twentynine Palms recorded part of the Oct. 23 foot chase and shooting in footage that was obtained by the Southern California News Group.
Attorneys for Joseph McLaughlin, 31, said their client did not pose an imminent threat to Deputy Kyle Smit when Smit shot him three times in the shoulders and arm. McLaughlin underwent surgery to repair nerve and tissue damage, but his right hand remains numb and completely immobile, his attorneys said.
"It certainly is excessive use of force and improper use of lethal force," said Victorville attorney Jim Terrell, who along with lawyer Sharon Brunner is representing McLaughlin in his criminal and civil cases.
The two filed a $10 million claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, with San Bernardino County on Nov. 23. The county, which has 45 days to respond, has not commented on the filing.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman declined to comment on the shooting, other than to say the department is investigating.
Smit and another deputy chased McLaughlin after spotting him leaving Tortoise Rock Casino and attempted to detain him on a felony arrest warrant for a parole violation, authorities said.
The video shows the two deputies chasing McLaughlin into the desert, where the parolee stops, picks up a rock and acts like he's throwing it at Smit before turning and again fleeing, with the rock still in his hand.
From his belt audio recorder, Smit is heard yelling, "Drop the rock!" just before firing seven shots, the news group reported.
"Why'd you do that?" a groaning McLaughlin is heard asking after the shooting. Smit responds, "Why'd you pick up a rock?" to which McLaughlin replied, "Sorry." Smit then told McLaughlin he was getting him medical attention.
McLaughlin has burglary convictions in San Bernardino and Kern counties, the news group reported.
Prosecutors have charged him with one felony count of assault on a peace officer in connection with the Oct. 23 incident. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
Terrell and Brunner contend the assault charge is unwarranted given that McLaughlin did not actually strike anyone with the rock and was fleeing the deputies when he was shot.