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A Riverside County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a Cathedral City man who charged toward him wielding a tire iron in Whitewater, ignoring several commands to drop the tool, according to body camera footage released Thursday.
“I got one at gunpoint. He’s coming at me. I got nothing else other than my gun,” the deputy said over his radio, while walking backward as the man continued to advance in his direction. “Sir, I’m going to shoot you. I’m going to shoot you. Drop it.”
The K-9 deputy, whose name was not released, fired six shots, killing 40-year-old Gabriel Munoz Jr.
The footage was released Thursday afternoon as part of an eight-minute video narrated by Sheriff Chad Bianco — posted on the department’s social media accounts — concerning the April 9 shooting on Interstate 10 near Whitewater Canyon Road.
Bianco said the depuy was initially sent to the area of Tipton and Whitewater Canyon roads regarding a vandalism call. A woman told sheriff’s dispatchers that a man was throwing rocks in the road, and had used a large one to smash her vehicle’s windshield.
Bianco said the responding deputy encountered a man — later identified as Munoz — smashing the window of a separate parked car with the tire iron and ordered the suspect to drop it, but he instead walked toward Interstate 10 and onto the freeway. The deputy then drove his patrol vehicle onto Interstate 10, stopped traffic, and again ordered Munoz to drop the tire iron.
“Don’t come closer. Don’t come closer. Don’t come closer,” the deputy said, as his K-9 partner barked in the backseat. “Drop it.”
Sheriff’s officials have not elaborated on the deputy’s comment about having “nothing else other than my gun.” It is unclear whether the deputy had a stun gun handy.
Munoz was pronounced dead at the scene. The deputy was not injured.
The shooting remains under investigation and will eventually be reviewed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.