A $7.5 million settlement to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the killing of a transient by Orange County sheriff's deputies in San Clemente nearly three years ago was approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
The family of 42-year-old Kurt Andras Reinhold sued the county in December 2020, and the case was nearing trial before a federal judge in Los Angeles, according to court records.
Reinhold was shot Sept. 23, 2020, during a struggle with two deputies outside the Hotel Miramar at El Camino Real and Avenida San Gabriel. The unarmed Reinhold was shot twice about 10 a.m. after the deputies approached him as part of a homeless outreach team.
Reinhold, who had been diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, was jaywalking across a street and nearly reached the other side when deputies pushed him back across the street, according to the family's attorney, Neil Gehlawat.
The board voted 4-0 for the settlement. Supervisor Andrew Do was absent from the closed-door meeting.
In making the announcement, Orange County counsel Leon Page said Reinhold was "shot and killed by a deputy sheriff in San Clemente after Mr. Reinhold placed his hand on, and attempted to remove, another deputy sheriff's gun from its holster as the two deputy sheriffs wrestled with Mr. Reinhold on the ground."
In an interview about the lawsuit in 2020, Gehlawat waved off that scenario as a way for sheriff's officials to justify the shooting.
"They freeze-framed a part of where it appears his hand is in that location, but if you watch the video all the way through, you can't look at it in a vacuum. It's much more fluid and I think his hand is in that position because he was in a headlock and in the deputy's stomach and was attempting to push away from the deputy because he was having trouble breathing."
Gehlawat noted that Reinhold, who was Black, must have been aware at the time of the widespread protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, as well as other fatal contacts with officers in other parts of the country.
In a statement from the family's law firm, attorney John Taylor said, "The settlement is vindication for the Reinhold family. There needs to be accountability when deputies use excessive force and this is a step in that direction."
Gehlawat added, "The family hopes that the unnecessary killing of Kurt can impact interaction between homeless outreach deputies and the people that they're supposed to serve."
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Reinhold's wife, Latoya, their son and daughter, ages 8 and 7, and his mother, Judy Reinhold-Tucker.
The deputies -- Jonathan Israel and Eduardo Duran -- were also sued individually.
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