A man shot in the leg by a Calexico police officer was still in “critical but stable” condition in an undisclosed hospital April 30 following surgery, Calexico’s top cop reported.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the April 24 shooting is ongoing by the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office and Calexico’s internal affairs division, Police Chief Gonzalo Gerardo told this newspaper in an April 30 interview.
The officer involved in the shooting, whose identity is being withheld, has been on paid administrative leave pending the results of a psychological evaluation clearing him to return to work, Gerardo said. The chief said both are standard protocol following an officer-involved shooting.
Also, Gerardo said the department has 60 days to release body-cam footage of the shooting, but the chief said he is looking to release it as soon as the DA’s Office wraps up its end of the investigation.
“I want to release it as soon as possible. I want to be as transparent as I can with this,” Gerardo said.
DA’s officials are looking into whether the shooting was justified, while the Calexico internal affairs investigation is probing whether any department policies were violated in the shooting.
The shooting occurred sometime after 7:50 p.m. April 24 when a report came into the department in which officers were dispatched to the scene of some sort of harassment call involving a male subject and a woman walking her dog in the area of Fifth Street and Rockwood Avenue.
The subject was “bothering” the woman, who said the man “was following her while using belligerent and sexually explicit language at her. He was last seen going west towards Imperial Avenue on Fifth Street wearing all dark clothing,” an April 25 press release from Calexico police stated.
Officers caught up with the man at an undisclosed location and attempted to check him for weapons, when he took out an unfolded knife. That’s when officers attempted to use their taser on the man, but it did not affect him, according to Calexico police.
The subject dropped the knife, and while the officers attempted to handcuff him, he picked up the knife and was subsequently shot one time in the leg, the release stated.
The subject, who was airlifted by helicopter to a trauma hospital, hasn’t been officially arrested by the department due to the nature of the injury, Gerardo said.
Police also have yet to interview him because he has been under the influence of pain medication since the shooting and subsequent surgery, the chief explained.
“The injury caused excessive bleeding associated with a femoral artery-type of injury. There was a lot of blood loss,” Gerardo said April 30.
Although Calexico paramedics arrived at the scene quickly, Gerardo said it was police officers who stabilized the wound and saved the life of the subject.
“Two arriving officers treated him, packed (the wound), applied a tourniquet. They saved his life,” Gerardo said. He said the officers learned the treatment techniques last year during a class on critical wound care during shootings. The class was conducted after a number of high-profile school and officer-related shootings had occurred around the nation.
In addition to transparency, Gerardo also wants to release the video and show an extended version of it to reveal the life-saving efforts of his officers. Gerardo said he has asked an outside agency to assist with preparing the video for release, including slowing it down and speeding it up, because the department is not allowed to edit the content of the video in any way.
The officer involved in the shooting has been “very cooperative” and is doing well, Gerardo said.