San Diego Police Take Down Hostage-Takers in Bodycam Videos

May 30, 2024
In separate incidents, San Diego police stopped two individuals who had fled officers. A domestic disturbance suspect had an infant, while a robbery suspect grabbed a bystander, who he fatally stabbed.

By Lyndsay Winkley

Source The San Diego Union-Tribune

Body-worn camera footage released this week shows the moment a San Diego police officer opened fire on a man he thought was pointing a gun at him.

What Officer Robert Gladysz apparently didn't see was the baby the man held under his left arm.

Less than a minute after the shooting, another officer can be heard asking, "Does he have the kid?"

Gladysz replied, "I didn't see a kid. I saw the gun." Investigators later determined the man was not carrying a firearm when he was shot and wounded. The 11-month-old girl wasn't seriously hurt.

The footage is from one of two police shootings that happened within 12 hours of one another last week. The incident involving the baby happened May 19 in Chollas View. The next day, three different officers shot a man who used a knife to take another man hostage in the Morena area. Video from both shootings was released this week.

The first incident began at 10:20 p.m. after a woman called 911 to report her ex-boyfriend was outside her apartment on 47th Street, threatening to shoot through the door, officials said. Fearing the man was going to open fire, the woman let him into the apartment.

In audio released from the 911 call, the man can be heard threatening to shoot the woman. At one point he says to a dispatcher, "If the police come to this door... I'm (going to) kill everything in here. I promise you that."

He then took the couple's child and left, police said. Responding officers spotted the man carrying the baby and chased after him. As he fled south through a nearby trolley station parking lot, he dropped a gun he was carrying — an action caught by a security camera. At least one officer ran past the firearm but didn't seem to notice it, video shows.

Gladysz found the man hiding in brush along a hill at second apartment complex and can be heard telling the man to put his hands up. As the man stands and starts to move away from the officer, Gladysz opens fire, striking the man once, the video shows. He then appears to stumble down the embankment, the baby in his arms.

As officers approach the man, now sitting against the wall of an apartment building, he can be heard saying, "I have no gun."

Officers located the infant, who wasn't seriously injured, and returned the girl to her mother. The wounded man was taken to a hospital and was later arrested on suspicion of several charges including assault with a deadly weapon, endangering a child and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Police said it's unclear what the man was holding when Gladysz shot him.

The second shooting happened the next morning. Three officers — Matthew Steinbach, Michael Howells and Justin Tellam — fatally shot a robbery suspect after he took a hostage and held a knife to the victim's throat, authorities said.

The incident started about 10:40 a.m. when police responded to a reported robbery at a store on Morena Boulevard. According to sheriff's officials, a man tried to leave the business with merchandise he didn't pay for, and when a clerk tried to stop him, he pulled out a knife and threatened her.

Police quickly arrived and found the man on nearby Napa Street. Two officers attempted to shoot the man with Taser stun guns, but the weapons had no effect, police said. The suspect instead ran to a homeless encampment off Friars Road, where he grabbed a man and held a knife to his neck, officials said.

Video of the incident appears to show the man making stabbing motions at his hostage before and after the officers opened fire. Police began to perform life-saving measures until medics arrived and took over, but the man died.

His name has not yet been released.

The District Attorney's Office will review both shootings to determine whether any of the officers bear criminal liability.


©2024 The San Diego Union-Tribune.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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