A San Diego Police Officer's gun discharged during a foot pursuit in North Park over the holiday weekend, according to the man who says he was the target.
Kenneth Hamilton stopped to photograph some graffiti on University Avenue Saturday, July 4. An admirer of street art, he photographs it just about everywhere he goes.
“It was something that caught my eye,” he explained in an exclusive interview. “I just wanted to take a picture of it.”
Still Hamilton and his friends were reported as vandals and San Diego Police responded.
Instead of explaining to the officer what he was doing, Hamilton said he decided to run.
“I wanted to avoid the situation at all cost, no particular reason,” Hamilton said.
The foot chase went down several side streets and near the corner of Herman and University Avenues, Hamilton said he made a motion to surrender.
“I get my hands about half way up to my chest. I just hear and see the pop and see the muzzle flash,” he said.
When NBC 7 contacted San Diego Police to inquire if there was an investigation launched into an officer-involved shooting, Lt. Scott Wahl issued the following statement Tuesday night:
“We are investigating an incident where an officer accidentally discharged a firearm during the early morning hours of Saturday July 4th. The incident occurred at the end of a lengthy foot pursuit. Preliminary information indicates the officer was not trying to shoot at the suspect. We take this matter very seriously. An investigation is being conducted in accordance with Department Policies and Procedures. At the conclusion of the investigation, appropriate action will be determined based on the findings.”
Accident or not, Hamilton said the gun was pointed in his direction, not at the ground or elsewhere.
“It's just not right for an unarmed person to get fired upon with a lethal weapon, even if it was an accident he could have shot me in my face,” Hamilton told NBC 7.
Hamilton was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of evading police and vandalism. He is scheduled for his first court appearance on August 18.