Home News Local News Inland Empire teen fatally shot by deputies during mental health crisis

Inland Empire teen fatally shot by deputies during mental health crisis

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The teen killed by deputies in Victorville Tuesday was a foster youth experiencing a mental health issue, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus announced in a Wednesday morning press conference.

The 17-year-old boy, whose identity has not been released, was a resident of Hesperia, though he had been involuntarily committed using a 5150 hold three days before the deadly encounter after he cut his wrists.

While being transported from a local hospital to a mental care facility, the teen “absconded” from medical care and showed up at the home of his two sisters, who are also in the foster care system but who live in a separate home in Victorville, Dicus said.

Body camera footage shared by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department shows deputies attempt to take a teen boy into custody on April 2, 2024.

The sisters’ parents reported the teen as a trespasser, but he locked himself in a bathroom inside the home.

Armed with a knife, the boy threatened to harm himself, and given the small space, deputies were unable to use stun guns.

Instead, after half an hour of trying to deescalate the situation, they used pepper spray and attempted to physically take the boy into custody, with deputies yelling at the boy to “let go of the knife.” One deputy was sliced on the hand in the process.

During the fracas, one deputy opened fire, according to Dicas and confirmed by body camera video. The teen was struck and pronounced dead at a local hospital, the SBSD said in a press release.

Body camera footage shared by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department shows a knife as deputies attempt to take a teen boy into custody on April 2, 2024.

Dicas mourned the “significant tragedy” that occurred while encouraging the public to “realize we can do better with” mental health crises.

The sheriff said not only is his department working to improve their responses to these issues, but he thinks Gov. Gavin Newsom and the recently passed Proposition 1, which allows the state to borrow up to $6.4 billion to build mental care facilities, are steps in the right direction.

“The overriding issue here that we need to be paying attention to as a society, and this is in lockstep with Proposition 1 and what the governor has stated, we have a mental health crisis on our hands, not just in this county, but in the entire state,” he said.

Dicas also referenced a couple similar incidents in which his deputies killed teens, saying that the 15-year-old autistic boy who charged deputies with a bladed garden tool in March was going through a similar mental health crisis before he was killed.

Dicus differentiated this recent shooting, however, from the shooting of 15-year-old Savannah Graziano, who was killed by deputies in 2022 as she tried to escape her father, who had kidnapped her and killed her mother.

He also referenced the recent video of a deputy seen punching and kneeing a person in the head after they had been restrained by deputies.

These incidents and the deputies’ actions during them are under investigation, and Dicus said due to “legal complexities,” he’s limited in what he can say about some of them. That said, administrative and criminal investigations are underway.

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