Orange County Supervisors have approved spending $7.5 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of Kurt Reinhold, a homeless man who an OC Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed during a jaywalking stop in 2020.
The public announcement came on Tuesday from the County of Orange’s top attorney, Leon Page, after a 4-0 vote by supervisors behind closed doors during that day’s regular meeting, with Supervisor Andrew Do absent.
John Taylor, an attorney representing Reinhold’s family, called it progress toward accountability.
“The board approval is vindication for the Reinhold family. There needs to be accountability when deputies use excessive force and this is a step in that direction,” Taylor said in a Tuesday phone interview.
In a text message on Tuesday, Page said the agreement had not yet been signed or finalized.
OC Sheriff’s Dept. spokesperson Carrie Braun declined to comment on the settlement.
It comes more than two and a half years after two Sheriff’s deputies in the department’s homeless outreach team – Eduardo Duran and Johnathan Israel – stopped Reinhold near downtown San Clemente for what they said was jaywalking.
Reinhold insisted on walking away on Sept. 23, 2020 and deputies eventually wrestled him to the ground, culminating in the killing of the very person the deputies were tasked with helping, when Duran fired two bullets into the 42-year-old who had been living on the city’s streets.
Authorities later released footage of the shooting from the deputies’ vehicle, body-worn cameras and a nearby hotel surveillance camera. The county district attorney’s office eventually cleared the deputies, saying Reinhold grabbed one of their weapons.
[Read: What Does the Released Footage Around OC Sheriff Deputy Killing of Kurt Reinhold Show?]
Reinhold’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the County of Orange with Reinhold’s wife, Latoya, listed as the plaintiff.
“The family hopes that the unnecessary killing of Kurt Reinhold can impact the interactions between the Sheriff’s homeless outreach deputies and the people they’re supposed to serve,” Taylor said.
Reinhold’s death prompted multiple protests and questions as to how the deputies let the stop escalate to a physical struggle, while OC Sheriff Don Barnes, in the days following the attack, expressed a need to reassess his department’s role in mental health and homeless outreach.
The following year, OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer’s office declined to file criminal charges against Duran, arguing Reinhold posed a significant threat to him and his partner.
[Read: Spitzer Clears Deputy Who Shot and Killed Kurt Reinhold During Jaywalking Stop]
In their decision, county prosecutors argued that camera footage from the location of Reinhold’s death – the Hotel Miramar – “clearly showed Reinhold not only reaching for deputy Israel’s gun, but eventually grabbing a hold of Deputy Israel’s gun.”
The 42-year-old’s family, which filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county in December of 2020, criticzed the DA’s decision, arguing that Reinhold never committed a serious crime in the first place.
Latoya Reinhold herself spoke out about the killing in December 2020, after announcing the lawsuit with attorneys John Taylor and Neil Gehlawat.
“I keep asking myself, ‘Why?’ What did Kurt do to deserve to be shot in broad daylight for jaywalking?” she said that year. “None of this makes any sense. It’s a nightmare I’m living with each and every day.”
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC reporter. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @brandonphooo.
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