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Calif. officer cleared, video released in 2021 shooting of man who pretended to point gun at officers

Video shows the suspect reaching into his waistband, then using his hands to pretend like he is pointing a gun at officers

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By Joanna Putman

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. — An officer has been cleared of wrongdoing in the 2021 shooting of a man who pointed his hands at officers in order to make it appear that he had a gun, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.

The DA’s office released a letter to Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert detailing the now-concluded investigation into the incident, along with camera footage.

The dash cam footage shows Officer Ryan Radel stop a white Mercedes-Benz, which was later determined to be stolen, according to the letter. After initially pulling over, the driver, Tobiah Paul Steinmetz, accelerated away when Radel approached the driver’s side window.

Steinmetz veered into traffic, causing an incident with another vehicle before driving away. After a pursuit, another cruiser can be seen performing a PIT maneuver on the vehicle Steinmetz is driving. The car spun before coming to a stop facing the cruiser.

Steinmetz jumped out of the car and ignored Radel’s repeated commands to get on the ground. Instead, he reached into his waistband with both hands, acting like he was trying to pull out a gun.

After moving sporadically while reaching into his waistband and yelling, Steinmetz pretended to pull out a handgun and point it at Radel. Radel then fired several shots at Steinmetz, who appeared to be hit in the arm but remained standing and able to speak.

Officers repeatedly told Steinmetz to get on the ground, but he started to walk toward them.

“I’m not going to take this crap,” Steinmetz can be heard saying.

When Steinmetz continued to walk towards the officers, an officer can be seen deploying a TASER to neutralize Steinmetz.

According to the DA’s letter, Steinmetz was ultimately charged with several felony and misdemeanor charges including unlawful taking of a vehicle, evading a peace officer and property damage.

“It is our legal opinion that there is no evidence of criminal culpability on the part of Officer Radel, and there is substantial evidence that his actions were reasonable and justified under the circumstances,” the letter reads.

Click below to see the full video.

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