On the same day that the suspect in Saturday’s police shooting appeared in court Wednesday, some residents of Florida Street wondered whether the police officer’s decision to open fire on the suspect made sense.
“There are kids on this block,” said one resident who has lived on the block for more than 15 years, but asked not to be identified. “Why did they think it was okay to open fire?”
The block between 25th and 26th streets on Florida where the incident occurred includes Hilltop High School, a beautiful low-rise Spanish style campus, and a mix of well-kept duplexes and small homes with a few mid-sized apartment houses. Two residents said that children are often playing outside.
Their doubts about the wisdom of shooting at the suspect’s vehicle intensified as police acknowledged that the bullet that went through Officer Adam Shaw’s left bicep as he approached the suspect’s vehicle, could have come from shots fired by his partner.
“We don’t have the bullet recovered from the left bicep and without that bullet it would be difficult to conclusively say what firearm it came from,” said Officer Gordon Shyy. “We don’t have a gun recovered from the suspect.”
In court on Wednesday, Jeffrey Ruano’s lawyer, public defender Stephen Olmo argued that it was Shaw’s partner who hit him in the shoulder. When Ruano was arrested on Sunday morning, he had no firearm, but allegedly had a 38-caliber cartridge. Officers use a 40-caliber cartridge.
No bullet has been found at the scene.
Residents said that police returned to Florida Street on Tuesday to search again for the spent bullet. Shyy said they did not find anything.
Shaw and his partner responded on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. to a call for “malicious mischief” and approached the suspect who was in his vehicle. Both officers were out of their car and walking toward the suspect’s car when the shooting began.
It’s unclear how close they got to the vehicle before the driver began to back up. When he did, Shaw’s partner began to shoot, according to police who said they have one witness who says the suspect fired off a shot.
Officer Shyy said it was unclear how far Shaw and his partner were from the car or how far Shaw was from the suspect’s window. “I don’t know exactly how close he was to the window,” he said. “Inches or a couple of feet.”
“Why couldn’t they just call for assistance and follow the car,” asked the resident. “A lot of things don’t seem to jive.”
Another mother of young children said that a young man had been shot down nearby about a year ago, but both residents agreed that Saturday’s incident was the biggest police action their street had seen. Police officers in squad cars and motorcycles as well as the fire and sheriff’s department all arrived at the Saturday scene.
Shaw is recovering from surgery and there were no other injuries.