Bodycam video shows fatal shooting of autistic California teen who charged deputy with garden tool

Bodycam video shows fatal shooting of autistic California teen who charged deputy with garden tool

A 15-year-old autistic California boy was shot by officer gunfire and died after he charged at a deputy with a sharp gardening tool over the weekend, authorities said.

The incident stemmed from a 911 call shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday regarding the teen, who was "actively assaulting family members" and damaging property at a residence in the 13400 block of Iroquois Road in Apple Valley, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

The Apple Valley police department responded. Authorities have not named the deputies involved.

At 4:54 p.m., when a sheriff’s deputy arrived, he was “confronted” by Ryan Gainer, 15, who was armed with a 5-foot-long garden tool with a sharp bladed end, the sheriff's department said.

Gainer raised the bladed end of the tool and charged toward the deputy “without provocation,” authorities alleged. When the deputy retreated, Gainer chased him with the tool, they claimed.

Authorities said “a lethal force encounter occurred” and Gainer was hit by gunfire.

Body camera video released by the sheriff's department showed parts of the encounter.

In one clip, an officer approaches the open door of the home and says, "Where’s he at?"

Gainer emerges, wearing a blue sweatshirt and sweatpants, carrying a tool that appears to be a hula hoe. The sheriff's department blurred his face in the video.

Ryan Gainer (San Bernardino County Sheriff)
Ryan Gainer (San Bernardino County Sheriff)

“Hey, get back,” the officer yells, his gun pointed toward the teen.

“Get back or you’re gonna get shot!” he says when Gainer continues to approach.

The officer then turns around and runs away from Gainer.

Another clip from the view of a different deputy's body camera shows the same scene play out from an angle farther away from the home. It shows the first deputy's verbal warning and Gainer following the officer. The clip, which was edited by the sheriff's department, ends with the second deputy's gun pointed at Gainer but does not show a shot being fired.

It's not clear how many shots were fired or how many times Gainer may have been struck.

Deputies rendered medical aid, and an ambulance took Gainer to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

The sheriff’s specialized investigations division is investigating.

Several neighbors told the Victorville Daily Press that Gainer was autistic and well-known in the community.

An attorney Gainer's family has hired in the wake of the incident did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Though officials did not say whether Gainer was autistic, Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a statement: “Our social safety net for those experiencing mental illness needs to be strengthened.”

“Our deputies handle seemingly insurmountable calls daily. Most of these calls do not end in violence. However, this one ended in tragedy for Ryan, his family, and for the deputies who responded," Dicus said.

"Rapidly evolving, violent encounters are some of the most difficult, requiring split second decisions," Dicus said. "While these decisions are lawful, they are awful in terms of our humanity. I feel for both Ryan’s family and my deputies who will struggle with this for their entire lives."

This article was originally published on