San Diego

WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: SDPD Body Cam Captures College Area Shootout

The video showing the dramatic and violent exchange of gunfire in a condo complex corridor was released Monday by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office

A gun battle caught on an officer's body-worn camera was released Monday by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office along with their conclusion that officers were justified in using deadly force in the College Area shooting that took place last year.

Joseph Darwish, 28, was shot on June 23, 2018, by San Diego police officers responding to a call about a man yelling and creating a disturbance.

There was a smell of smoke coming from inside Darwish's unit at Tuscany Place on the 4800 block on Rolando Court that Saturday night.

WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO A second clip from the body cam footage showing the shooting inside a College Area complex that injured two San Diego police officers and ended with the resident’s death by suicide, according to the San Diego County District Attorney. THE CLIP INCLUDES GRAPHIC VIDEO AND LANGUAGE.

Officers knocked on the door for approximately 30 minutes according to the investigation and called for fire officials to go into the unit to see what may be burning.

Two seconds after a firefighter forced the door open, shots rang out. 

Eight seconds later, an officer was down telling his colleague "Can't move. Can't move," and another officer can be heard making the radio call, "Shots fired. Shots fired." 

The first officer shot was identified by SDPD as 18-year veteran Officer Dan Bihum. He was shot across the shoulders -- in one side and out the other. Police Union President Jack Schaefer says a high-velocity round passing that close to the spinal cord can cause temporary paralysis.

In the video, Bihum can be seen dropping to the floor while fellow officer Francisco Roman covers him and helps him crawl to safety.

WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: The District Attorney’s Office released police body camera footage of heavy gunfire in the College Area. NBC 7’s Bridget Naso has more on the deadly encounter.

They made their way down a dead-end hallway and eventually kicked out a window and jumped 10 to 20 feet to the ground, but not before Officer Roman was shot near the collar bone.

All of this was captured on body-worn camera released Monday by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

Throughout the dramatic video, you can hear officers trying to get their wounded partner to safety while screaming for a rifle to match the firepower they were facing from the suspect inside his condo unit. 

Darwish was wearing a ballistic vest and was armed with two homemade weapons - one an assault weapon and the other a pistol - when he opened fire on the officers.

Both weapons were unregistered and didn't have serial numbers -- weapons the ATF refers to as "ghost guns."

NBC 7's Dave Summers explains the origin of the suspect's weapons.

No firefighters were injured. Officer Bihum and Officer Roman, as well as three other SDPD officers involved in the incident, were given the National Association of Police Organizations' Top Cop Award  Sunday in Washington D.C.

Darwish died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office. An SDPD robot was sent into the unit to help confirm that Darwish was no longer a threat.

Court records show Darwish struggled with mental illness and had a history of violence, including a 2017 incident when he violently attacked a female neighbor. The woman suffered a brain injury and later filed a restraining order.

Multiple neighbors at the Tuscany Place complex told NBC 7 Darwish had a reputation for causing disturbances at the building.

WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: With the release of body camera footage of a College Area shootout, NBC 7’s Danny Freeman breaks down what exactly happened.

A former SWAT team leader and retired ATF special agent reviewed the shooting footage and told NBC 7 the officers were lucky to be alive.

"I understand what those officers went through," Brad Galvan said. "Exactly their mindset, the fear that goes through."

Galvan said officers aren't equipped to defend themselves when shots ring out unexpectedly, especially if the shooter is using an automatic weapon.

"Their threat level was at zero, and then it went to 100 immediately in the blink of an eye," Galvan said. "Shots were fired, an officer is down, and now they're thinking and fighting for their lives. They now have to get out of that area."

That's why, Galvan says, that when police know that a suspect is armed, SWAT teams are called to the scene.

According to Galvan, law enforcement agencies are working towards bringing officers more combat and scenario-based training, including deadly force scenarios. 

WARNING GRAPHIC VIDEO: The San Diego Police Department identified the two wounded officers in the shooting incident in the College Area. NBC 7’s Melissa Adan has more.
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