Saturday’s police shooting of a man in front of the Circle K storein Cathedral City was the second officer-involved shooting to take place within four days.
The shooting followed that of an 18-year-old who was reportedlyengaged in an altercation with Desert Hot Springs police officers that previous Wednesday.
The teen, Travis Jonsrud, and the man shot in the Cathedral City incident both are being treated at Desert Regional Medical Center. Both remained in critical condition through Monday.
With two similar incidents happening within a week, the issue of police’s “use of force” police is coming under scrutiny.
Former Indio Police officer and Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy Johnnie Woods said the shootings are circumstantial.
“An unarmed person can certainly do you some serious harm,” Woods, who now runs the Coachella Valley Security Academy, said. “At what level do you want to intervene with a greater amount of force?”
The way officers respond to potential threats varies on the situation, Woods explained.
Still, there are some guidelines law enforcement officers follow that don’t change from department to department.
According to Woods, communication with the suspect is always used.
“You talk to them trying to comply…When that doesn’t work, you move up to the next level. Make some efforts to physically get them to comply with what you need them to do.
“If that doesn’t work and they become overly aggressive and become a physical threat to you or the victims, then obviously you have to increase the force options.”
Those options include the use of tasers, batons,K9 units and, the last resort, a gun.
Police used some of those options last week in Desert Hot Springs when officers shot Jonsrud. They say the unarmed teenager attacked and seriously injured three officers.
They fired more than a dozen rounds hitting the Jonsrud three times.
It’s unclear if the cathedral city suspect was armed at the time of the shooting.
Under police guidelines officers should only shoot if there’s a serious threat to their lives.
“At that point, you can use deadly force to protect your life if they’ve gone to a deadly weapon like a knife or a gun. The options are somewhat limited.”
Jonsrud’s family attorney says there was no need to shoot the teenager.
Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City police departments didn’t return our calls, and both refused to release the names of the officers involved.
The departments are both handling their own internal investigation while the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is taking care of both criminal investigations.