The Fatal HBPD Shooting of Ronnie Andrew Garcia, at the US Open

The U.S. Open of Surfing generates approximately $55.3 million in economic impact to the city of Huntington Beach, based on an estimated 375,000 attendees to the multi-day event. This afternoon at 3:15, in the middle of that event, HB police reported that “an officer-involved shooting” occurred on the sand, near the Pier. (HOW WAS THE OFFICER INVOLVED, you ask.) They report as of now that the male victim has been “transported to the hospital,” “condition unknown.”

But that’s not the impression a lotta witnesses got – word is he ran, was tased and fell, then lying helpless on the ground, then shot about ten times point blank. Witnesses were certain the guy was killed. (Word also was he had a gun, but you know how that is – once that rumor gets around, that’s what everyone thinks, they figure he had it coming and everything is right in the world, and they put the whole thing out of mind. More often than not, it turns out he DIDN’T have a gun. Or a knife. Maybe a cell phone, or a plastic bag.)

Someone sent TMZ a couple of videos:

And The Post-Shooting Crowd Control:

TMZ was originally reporting that the victim LOOKED black (OR like some kinda “POC”), and then at 5 the HBPD told them that no, he is not black. But you know what? He looks black in the video, he looked black to the witnesses, and that means he looked black to the cops. SO … what’s the difference? If he was shot hastily and unjustly due to some cops’ predispositions about blacks (and it doesn’t turn out he was really threatening anyone himself) then he joins all the other black victims, you know? Update the guy was Latino.

We’ll report more as we learn more. But meanwhile, any witnesses out there, contact us! Think of us as the TMZ of Orange County, but more political and with a long history of covering police killings!

Update – new footage

This little clip was on Instagram, and a little hard to figure out, so I played it three times and put it onto YouTube. The guy, a Latino, was holding up what seems to be a dark teeshirt covered by a white teeshirt, who knows why? And the police shot him a few times and he fell. Then he starts crawling back to his fallen black teeshirt, and they shoot him many more times. I don’t see any weapon.

Update – HBPD Press Release

The victim / suspect has died, rest in peace. And apparently he was armed. There is a photo of him with a gun sticking out of his waistband. Which makes it really strange that he was holding up two teeshirts toward the cops instead of a gun. Now it looks like suicide by cop. And that last fusillade of shots that we see above was totally unnecessary – he was not reaching for any weapon, just his teeshirts.

UPDATE Sunday morning

1. Apparently the deceased guy WAS armed and dangerous, and we’re glad the police prevented any other deaths or injuries. It’s too bad he couldn’t have been arrested without being killed.

2. NO APOLOGIES for covering a police shooting with SKEPTICISM these days, until more facts come out. This is justified by long experience.:

3. One nagging question – how can both these photos, below, be real, unless he had TWO guns? (And then the PD should let us know he had two guns.) It’s the second photo that made a lot of us think he hadn’t been aiming a gun at the cops (which they couldn’t have known for sure) and wasn’t reaching for a gun later when he was lying on the sand (which would mean the final volley of gunfire was unnecessary.) Maybe this will make sense later?

Update Sunday night – name released.

The OCSD (why the OCSD?) has released the name of the victim – Ronnie Andrew Garcia. They’re still saying “a gun was found on the scene,” and they’re not saying if it was on him, in the white tee-shirt, in his waistband, or if there were two guns. Or if what was in his waistband was a clip of ammunition as some folks are thinking.

And it’s strange that it’s the Sheriff’s Department speaking on this rather than the HBPD, AND that they will be conducting the investigation rather than the DA. Is this because it was on the beach? I don’t think it’s a state beach there. I’ll try and find out the reason.

Monday morning update

Keani Hobgood, a young lady who was working the US Open provides some info on Facebook:

“So this guy was making trouble a surf event farther south of the us open and the security team there made the cops and us open security aware that he was threatening and acting erratic. He then tried to go into where the athletes and judges all are multiple times while threatening the security on site.

“As the cops pulled up they asked him to cooperate and put his weapon down but failed to do so. So the cops already had information that this man had a gun on him hiding under briefs. They did tase him first, then shot multiple times. Which is in my opinion was way too much of an over kill. And sloppy aim. And they should have shot in areas that wouldn’t have been fatal but would have disarmed.

“I don’t think think how this went down was correct at all and the PD are VERY lucky that there were no collateral damage. Just giving insight as I was working the us open and the security told me how the guy was acting towards them up to the point of the police meeting him by the boardwalk.”

A lot of us wish cops would “shoot to wound” or disable, rather than always shoot to kill – but this is their policy, nationwide I believe. Ironically it is Julian Harvey who explained that to me years ago in Anaheim, and now he is the Chief in Huntington Beach.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.