Fullerton PD bodycam video shows moments leading to fatal shooting of wanted armed robber

Minutes before the shooting, the suspect's father called 911 to report his son was suicidal and wanted police to kill him.

Christiane Cordero Image
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Fullerton PD video released in fatal shooting of robbery suspect
WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: The suspect was wanted on an alleged armed robbery one week prior in San Bernardino and had an extensive rap sheet, according to police.

FULLERTON, Calif. (KABC) -- The Fullerton Police Department shared a new perspective of a February chase that led to a crash and a shooting.

It all unfolded 45 days ago on Feb. 10 just after 1 a.m.

Officers are required to release body camera footage within this exact timeframe for this type of shooting.

The man at the center of the chase was 48-year-old Austin Heiselman. He was wanted on an alleged armed robbery one week prior in San Bernardino and had an extensive rap sheet, according to police.

Fullerton police officers tried pulling him over, which is how the pursuit started. It ended 8 miles away in La Habra at a red light that he sped through. He crashed into a car traveling perpendicular.

The person driving the vehicle Heiselman hit was taken to the hospital that day with what officers described as minor injuries.

Moments after the crash, with the vehicle flipped on its side and on fire, Heiselman got out and ran into a strip mall parking lot. Bodycam footage shows police with a K-9 officer, who they released as they approached the corner.

"Show us your hands! Your hands!" an officer is heard yelling.

Moments later, officers shot and killed Heiselman.

A frozen image right before shots were fired shows Heiselman in what police described as a "shooting stance."

Officers recovered replica guns and replica ammunition from his vehicle and a knife from his pocket, but Heiselman otherwise didn't have a weapon on him. So why would it look like he did?

Minutes before the shooting, Heiselman's father called 911 to report his son was suicidal and wanted police to kill him.

"He was being chased and he told me they were coming up to get him right now and he told me he wanted to go. He just told he wants to die suicide by cop," the father is heard saying during the call.

ABC7 asked Fullerton Police if a dispatch officer told the responding officers that Heiselman was possibly suicidal, and asked what the protocol is in those scenarios.

A captain told Eyewitness News Heiselman's dad spoke with La Habra Police, so that information was not relayed to Fullerton in time, and that protocol generally varies.

Because Heiselman was unarmed, the California Department of Justice is leading the investigation on whether the shooting was legal.

Whether the shooting was justified will be determined by an internal investigation.