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BY Francis Akhalbey, 10:30am March 12, 2024,

Ryan Gainer: California teen shot dead by police had autism – report

Ryan Gainer, 15, was fatally shot by a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy on Saturday -- Photo: Burris, Nisenbaum, Curry & Lacy Law

An attorney representing the family of a 15-year-old who was fatally shot by a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy during a confrontation at his home said the deceased teen had autism. According to KABC, authorities said the teen, identified as Ryan Gainer, was shot and killed after he ran towards a deputy with a sharp gardening tool.

Authorities said deputies responded to Gainer’s Apple Valley home on Saturday after they received a 911 call from his family. His family told authorities that he was assaulting his sister and causing damage to property at their home.

The fatal incident was captured on body camera footage. In the video, Gainer is seen holding the gardening tool and approaching a deputy who is heard saying, “Hey get back! Get back or you’re gonna get shot.” The deputy, who has his gun pointed, is later seen appearing to run away from the teen before the shooting.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in a statement said that Gainer was “armed with an approximate five-foot-long garden tool, with a sharp bladed end” when he “confronted” the first deputy who arrived at the home.

“Without provocation, Gainer raised the bladed end of the tool and ran toward the deputy,” the statement said. “The deputy retreated and Gainer chased the deputy in an attempt to assault him with the bladed end of the tool.”

The statement said a “lethal force encounter” subsequently occurred and Gainer was shot. In the wake of the shooting, authorities said the deputies “quickly rendered medical aid to Gainer and continued until paramedics arrived.”

Gainer succumbed to his injuries after he was transported to the hospital. The attorney representing Gainer’s family told KABC that the deceased teen was autistic and provided details on what caused the family dispute.

“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,” attorney DeWitt Lacy said. “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.”

The 911 audio has since been released, though it is unclear if Gainer’s family notified authorities about his health condition. A neighbor who spoke with the news outlet said the deceased teen had been “struggling with a few things but he was basically a good kid.”

Another neighbor who viewed the video also touched on whether or not the deputy’s actions were justified. “When an officer is attacked with any kind of weapon, especially under that circumstance, seeing that video, I don’t know how much of a choice he had not to do what he did,” the neighbor said.

An investigation into the shooting has since been launched by the SBSD Specialized Investigations Division. 

“Our social safety net for those experiencing mental illness needs to be strengthened. Our deputies handle seemingly insurmountable calls daily. Most of these calls do not end in violence,” San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a statement.

“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.”

Dicus added: “While these decisions are lawful, they are awful in terms of our humanity. I feel for both Ryan’s family and my deputies who will struggle with this for their entire lives.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 12, 2024


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