San Bernardino County Sheriff defends deputy's action in fatal shooting of Apple Valley teen

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
San Bernardino County Sheriff defends deputy in Apple Valley shooting
San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus is defending a deputy's actions in the fatal shooting of Ryan Gainer, an Apple Valley teen with autism.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department has released additional body camera video of a deadly deputy-involved shooting of an Apple Valley teen.

The disturbing new footage shows the frantic moments after the shooting, when deputies are trying to administer first aid to 15-year-old Ryan Gainer.

The teen was shot after charging at a deputy with a sharp gardening tool. Family members had called 911 earlier Saturday asking for help, saying Ryan was attacking his sister and breaking windows and doors in the home.

Body camera video shows Ryan running out of the home with the tool as a deputy approaches the front door. Gun drawn, the deputy warns him to stop but then fires as the teen continues running toward him with the tool. Both deputies at the scene opened fire, according to Sheriff Shannon Dicus. Video shows the second deputy standing a distance away in the home's yard during the confrontation between the first deputy on scene and Ryan.

In the moments after the shooting, a family member believed to be Ryan's mother is heard shouting "Why would you do that? Why would you shoot my baby?" as the deputies are attempting to administer medical attention while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

The family's attorney later said the teen had autism and was acting out after a dispute over doing household chores.

Sheriff Shannon Dicus said deputies had been to the home five times since January and on at least one of those occasions, Ryan was transported to a mental-health facility, without the need for force.

Some in the community have criticized the department's actions, saying the knowledge about the teen's developmental disorder should have influenced their approach to the situation. Some have questioned whether a Taser could have been used to subdue the teen.

There were also questions raised about whether the deputies acted quickly enough to save the teen's life after the shooting.

An Apple Valley teen who was fatally shot as he charged at a deputy with a gardening tool had autism, the family's attorney says.

But Sheriff Shannon Dicus on Wednesday defended the deputy's action, noting that he had only seconds to defend himself as the teen came out of the house. He released the video to show the efforts the deputies made to administer medical attention while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus held a press conference Wednesday to address the deadly deputy-involved shooting of an Apple Valley teen.

Whether or not the deputy was aware of the teen's autism, Dicus said, he still had only seconds to react and defend himself from a physical threat. He didn't even have a chance to speak to family members or others at the scene before the teen came at him.

"There are no magic words. We pay law enforcement officers to stop threats, to stop violence."

"We need to understand in this circumstance, whether we knew, didn't know, had the best resources available to us - this is a reactionary time. And if we're looking at this in the scope of being a human being and what they're trained for, the deputies followed through in what their training protocols are."