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Deputy fatally shoots 15-year-old who allegedly charged at him

The California teenager, whose family says he has autism, charged at a San Bernardino officer with a 5-foot-long garden tool.
Deputy fatally shoots 15-year-old who allegedly charged at him
Posted at 12:11 PM, Mar 12, 2024

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department released video of an incident on Monday showing the moments leading up to when a deputy fatally shot a 15-year-old boy with autism. 

The sheriff's office has not identified the deputies involved. 

The incident occurred in Apple Valley, California, on March 9. 

According to the sheriff's office, 15-year-old Ryan Gainer charged at a deputy who was responding to a 911 call about someone at a residence actively assaulting family members and damaging property. The sheriff's office said Gainer had a 5-foot-long garden tool, raised the bladed end of the tool, and ran toward the deputy.

The deputy then responded by firing at Gainer. After being transported to the hospital, Gainer was pronounced dead. 

Video of the incident ended apparently seconds before the deputy pulled the trigger. Family attorney DeWitt Lacy told KABC-TV that Gainer was acting out for doing chores. 

"Ryan is a 15-year-old with autism, and sometimes in order to release stress or if he's a little too worked up, he'll go on a run," Lacy told KABC. "When he came back there was a dispute that arose because he wanted to play video games, and he needed to do his chores, and he started acting out."

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San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus issued a statement saying that deputies handle calls like the one on Saturday frequently.

"Our social safety net for those experiencing mental illness needs to be strengthened," Dicus said. "Our deputies handle seemingly insurmountable calls daily. Most of these calls do not end in violence. However, this one ended in tragedy for Ryan, his family, and for the deputies who responded. Rapidly evolving, violent encounters are some of the most difficult, requiring split second decisions. While these decisions are lawful, they are awful in terms of our humanity."

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