Video: Suspect rams Calif. patrol vehicles, nearly striking deputy
San Diego County deputy pushes a man out of the way as the driver of the stolen truck speeds away
By Caleb Lunetta
The San Diego Union-Tribune
EL CAJON, Calif. — Newly released body-worn camera video shows a sheriff's deputy shooting a man the department said used a stolen pickup to ram into patrol vehicles in El Cajon last week and nearly hit the deputy before driving off, investigators said.
San Diego County sheriff's Deputy Carlos Ramirez-Ochoa shot Brenten Kinzenbaw, 25, through both legs March 10 during a confrontation on Oro Street near Sumner Avenue, sheriff's officials said in a news release.
The incident started around 10:30 p.m. when Ramirez-Ochoa spotted a Toyota truck parked on Oro Street. It had been reported stolen out of Alpine earlier that day.
Ramirez-Ochoa called for assistance. Deputy Jason Balinger , who is with the Sheriff's Department's canine unit, showed up to the scene with his dog, investigators said. The deputies waited for 90 minutes before they decided to recover the vehicle.
Ramirez-Ochoa believed the truck was empty and was not recording with his body-worn camera, Sheriff's officials said.
The footage from Balinger's camera shows him approaching the parked vehicle. He turns his flashlight on and finds a man standing by the side of the truck and another sitting in the driver's seat.
"Put your hands on the truck," Balinger says, according to the video footage.
"If you guys don't do what I say, I'm going to pop that door on the car and one of you guys is going to get bit," he says, presumably referring to his Sheriff's Department dog, which remains in the patrol vehicle.
The man outside the truck complies.
The video shows Balinger telling Ramirez-Ochoa to watch over the man outside the truck. "Don't move. If you move, I will shoot you," Ramirez-Ochoa says.
Balinger then appears to turn his attention to the man inside the truck, who does not exit the vehicle, the video shows. The deputy retrieves his dog, and brings the animal to the truck's driver-side door.
"I want to show you how serious I am," Balinger says.
As Balinger tells the man in the pickup not to move, the man starts the ignition and throws the vehicle into reverse, the video shows.
The truck backs into a bus parked behind the truck. The driver then puts the truck in drive and accelerates forward, hitting the two patrol vehicles.
Balinger continues yelling, "Get out of the car!"
Ramirez-Ochoa can be seen in the video running from the vehicle. The Sheriff's Department says in text added to the video that the deputy pushed the man he was watching out of the path of the truck.
Sheriff's officials said Ramirez-Ochoa was cornered between a fence and a dumpster as the vehicle charged forward.
The body-camera footage shows Ramirez-Ochoa diving out of the way of the charging vehicle. Several shots can then be heard. The department said Ramirez-Ochoa fired his gun nine times, hitting the truck and the driver.
The truck speeds off after hitting both patrol vehicles. Balinger puts his dog in the back of his patrol vehicle and takes off in pursuit.
"He rammed one of our vehicles, pushed through mine, and forced an officer-involved shooting," Balinger tells dispatch while he's driving away from the scene.
During the pursuit, the fleeing driver lost control of the truck and crashed in front of a home on North Second Street, near Greenfield Drive, authorities said.
Balinger's body-worn camera video picks up again as he walks up to the crash scene in the front yard.
After a nearby resident called police to report hearing someone in a shed in her backyard, deputies arrive in the area and can be heard in the video yelling orders.
"Come out with your hands up or you will get bit," Balinger says in the video, holding his dog at bay just outside the shed.
The video shows a man, later identified as Kinzenbaw, exiting the shed. His hands and both legs are visibly bloodied.
Deputies order him to throw his phone on the ground and lie face down.
Body-worn camera footage from another deputy shows Kinzenbaw detained outside the shed with through-and-through gunshot wounds behind each of his knee caps.
A deputy in the video tells Kinzenbaw to "keep breathing" and that he's "going to be all right." They ask him if he can wiggle his toes.
Kinzenbaw was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life threatening. He was booked into county jail on suspicion of violating parole, assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving and evading, hit and run, vehicle theft, possessing a stolen vehicle and vandalism.
The San Diego Police Department is investigating the shooting in accordance with a countywide protocol that ensures agencies do not investigate shootings by their own officers or deputies. The San Diego County District Attorney's Office will then review the case, as is protocol, to determine whether to file criminal charges against Ramirez-Ochoa.
Ramirez-Ochoa is assigned to the Lakeside station and has been with the department for five years. He is on administrative assignment until he is cleared for duty, officials said.
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